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Most parents believe their children have suffered as a result of the pandemic but said there is a stigma around asking for extra support.
More than a third also fear the covid crisis means their child is behind developmentally, academically and socially, research for positive parenting programme Triple P found.
Chief executive Matt Buttery called for the next prime minister to make sure there is investment in projects that support families.
“The pandemic was an extremely difficult time for parents. For those who have children starting school this week, it’s understandable that they still feel quite isolated,” he said.
“Life might have returned to normal in many respects, but it will take much needed extra support to get four and five year olds up to speed.
“Family Hubs are a great example of how we can achieve this – providing access to a range of services under one roof.
“We’re calling for the new Prime Minister to ensure parenting support and programmes are widely available, to help parents build their support network as well as make their child’s school-life a success.”
Families raised concerns about how the new school generation have missed out on playgroups, pre-school classes and playdates.
Some 65 per cent are worried it has harmed their child’s development, the study of 250 parents with children about to start school found.
Dame Andrea Leadsom, chairman of the early years healthy development review, said: “These findings demonstrate the extent of support that’s still needed for those who were only babies during Covid lockdowns, but who now start school this week.
“Every parent and carer should have access to the vital support needed to help their baby get the best start for life, and it is a priority that in rolling out new family hubs we destigmatize services such as parenting programmes.”
Claire Halsey, a child psychologist, said: “Parents may be worried about the impact the pandemic has had on their child’s development, but getting positive support can help both children and parents feel much more confident as they start school.
“New routines offer new learning opportunities. Help your child ease into their new schedule with a regular bedtime, a good nights’ sleep and they’ll learn better the next day.
“As you help them develop new skills, such as packing their bag the night before school, they’ll gradually become more independent and confident.”
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