A1 Journal article (refereed)
Reading and math skills development among Finnish primary school children before and after COVID-19 school closure (2023)

Lerkkanen, M.-K., Pakarinen, E., Salminen, J., & Torppa, M. (2023). Reading and math skills development among Finnish primary school children before and after COVID-19 school closure. Reading and Writing, 36(2), 263-288. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-022-10358-3

The research was funded by Strategic Research Council at the Research Council of Finland.

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Lerkkanen, Marja-Kristiina; Pakarinen, Eija; Salminen, Jenni; Torppa, Minna

Journal or series: Reading and Writing

ISSN: 0922-4777

eISSN: 1573-0905

Publication year: 2023

Publication date: 27/09/2022

Volume: 36

Issue number: 2

Pages range: 263-288

Publisher: Springer

Publication country: Netherlands

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-022-10358-3

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/83854


This study quantified the possible learning losses in reading and math skills among a sample of Finnish Grade 3 children (n = 198) who spent 8 weeks in distance learning during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020. We compared their reading and math skill development trajectories across Grades 1, 2, and 4 to a pre-COVID sample (N = 378). We also examined if gender, parental education, maternal homework involvement, and child’s task-avoidant behavior predict children’s academic skills at Grade 4 differently in the pre-COVID sample compared with the COVID sample. Children’s reading and math skills were tested, mothers reported their education and homework involvement, and teachers rated children’s task-avoidant behavior. The results showed, on average, lower reading skills in the COVID sample than in the pre-COVID sample but there were no differences in math skills. Although the COVID sample had lower levels in reading, their developmental trajectories in reading and math skills were not different from the pre-COVID sample before the pandemic in Grades 1 and 2. From Grade 2 to 4, however, the development was slower in reading fluency and comprehension in the COVID sample, but not in math. The predictors of change from Grade 2 to 4 in reading and math skills were not different in the samples. The results showed that the development of reading skills in particular may have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; homework; reading; mathematics; literacy; mathematical skills; distance teaching

Free keywords: reading; mathematics; task avoidance; homework; COVID-19

Contributing organizations

Related projects

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2023-03-10 at 11:43