Hidden Faces and Long-term Language Delays


Honor Nestlehutt 23', Editor

Changes in education due to Covid-19, including masking and virtual learning, have impacted children and their early development since the pandemic began. Two years later, educators and parents continue to be concerned about the impact on children who have spent a large portion of their life in masks. Teacher Denise Nuttall from St. Peter’s Church in the Great Valley Preschool, said her biggest concern with children and masks is “that not all children have the privilege to have as much face time with parents.” Nuttall believes that children look to people’s mouths to aid language development; preschoolers who spend the majority of their day masked are struggling to transition from producing sounds to creating words.

Early educators are not the only people who have witnessed the impact of the pandemic. Teacher Adam Salo, the father of five and seven-year-old boys, Gabriel and Woods, remarked that last year, his youngest was able to attend in-person preschool while his eldest attended virtual kindergarten. Salo said that it impacted his whole family.

“That was tough on all of us: they were starved for friendship with other kids,” said Salo.

While Salo did not see a difference in his children’s speech development, he noted that several friends observed delays within their families, adding “I think making speech therapy more readily available for many would be ideal. Here at Westtown, I know we have great resources for students. I don’t know what resources are available for kids matriculating in public schools or other pre-k programs.”

Camp counselors have also seen the detrimental effects the pandemic has had on Pre-K and kindergarten-age students.

“I am also worried about their social abilities as they get older…they only see people’s eyes and forehead, so they are not learning to read facial expressions, which is a key part of growing up,” said Norah Goldbecker ’23, who worked with children during the summer of 2021.

Goldbecker believes that the best thing we can do moving forward is to “Be patient. They are trying their best and their speech may get worse, but it is important to remember to be patient with them as they learn.”

The best thing that can be done now is to remember to be patient with children experiencing delayed speech.