Parents perceptions of online physical activity and leisure with early years children during Covid-19 and beyond

Georgia Allen-Baker, Philippa Velija

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prior to Covid-19, businesses offering enrichment activities for pre-school aged children were saturating the early years (0–5 years) market. However, the pandemic caused sudden changes to family routines with regular leisure activities cancelled. Using Lareau’s theory of concerted cultivation as a framework, we explored how physical activity (PA) was managed by parents of pre-school children and how routines changed during the pandemic. A UK national online survey was completed by 925 parents. Sixteen tailored, follow-up semi-structured interviews were undertaken with parents. Due to the nature of the pandemic and the age range of the young children, it was the parents who ultimately made decisions about PA, and it was parents who had to adapt, often to a challenging set of circumstances. Our data suggests many parents sought to utilise informal play and online PA during the lockdown periods with mixed levels of success. For those that attended baby, toddler, and pre-school sport sessions provided by commercial businesses prior to lockdown, the vast majority were eager to resume their in-person classes as opposed to continuing online. Parents perceived a wider range of benefits and cultivation for their child if they attended such classes in person (e.g. expert delivery, socialisation, and routine).
Original languageEnglish
JournalLeisure Studies
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2022

Cite this