Life didn’t stop during the pandemic, and now, four years later, many of the children born during the COVID-19 crisis are entering school for the first time.
Olivia Cohen-Prue gave birth to her first daughter Eliza in July 2020, at the height of the pandemic.
"She was so wanted because she was conceived via in-vitro fertilization," Cohen-Prue said. "So that added a whole other layer to it, just like, 'I finally get pregnant.' And what world is she coming into? So it was very scary."
While it was scary, the family saw the good in their situation.
"She probably wasn't socialized as much, but it was actually kind of sweet because it was this cocoon that she got to be in that we got to be in as first time parents," Cohen-Prue said. "So in some ways, it was kind of sweet because it was just us."
Now 3 and a half years old, Eliza has entered preschool. Like her, many kids born during the pandemic were sheltered from typical social interactions early on.
"It's really like a pre-COVID, post-COVID era," noted Dr. Aleeya Healey, developmental behavior pediatrician at Albany Medical Center. "I feel like a lot has changed, and all of what happens in the household, in the shopping malls, in the schools, really impacted kids' typical developmental trajectory."
Healey encounters children daily in a professional setting, and she also had a child of her own during summer 2020.
"In kids who were just born during the pandemic, their early lives, their first three or four years of life, looked a lot different. They spent a lot more time indoors at home, separated from family or neighborhood friends or school peers. And so a lot of them are coming across as more shy or nervous."
As these children enter preschool and kindergarten, Healey says they’re going to pick up on the caregivers' anxieties.
"I think the best way to go about it is really for parents and caregivers to start out checking themself, because I don't think people acknowledge how much their own mental well-being affects the kid's development," Healey said. "Children are resilient and they're going to learn from what's around them."
Cohen-Prue knows how adaptable kids are. She's seen Eliza blossom since beginning preschool.
"I mean, you weren't sure how they were going to be. You definitely weren't sure," Cohen-Prue said. "But you just kind of had to have faith that children are resilient, and that they'll just learn and that they're going to pick up off of your cues. So if you aren't scared, they're going to be less scared."