Parental support for literacy development of early grade children during COVID-19 school closures in Northern Nigeria


  • Stephanie Zuilkowski Florida State University
  • Muhammad Ammani Bayero University Kano (Nigeria)
  • Bodunrin Akinrinmade Florida State University


literacy, primary grades, Nigeria, COVID-19, parental support


The COVID-19 pandemic that began in early 2020 has had consequences for children’s education globally, as schools closed and parents found themselves playing the role of teacher, alongside their economic and other community roles. This study aims to explore the experiences of parents in northern Nigeria as they attempted to support their primary school children’s reading development while schools were closed. We conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with 15 middle- and low-socioeconomic status parents in Kano State, Nigeria. Using thematic analysis, we identified challenges faced by parents as well as unexpected positive effects of the pandemic. Challenges included the lack of textbooks and other appropriate learning materials, time pressures, and lack of knowledge of strategies to teach reading. However, parents noted that the extra time they had spent together during lockdowns had led to improved relationships in the household, and that they had been able to spend more time discussing moral development and discipline with their children. In summary, this sample of parents believed that the pandemic would not have severe impacts on their own children, as they were making efforts to support learning at home. However, they had concerns for children in Nigeria more broadly, particularly those whose parents were not literate, as they would have little access to learning outside school. Recommendations for the Nigerian government and other stakeholders include making learning materials available for home use, increasing the use of educational radio and television programming, and developing simple literacy assessments for parents to monitor children’s progress.