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Infants & Young Children: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Early Childhood Intervention ; 36(3):211-227, 2023.
Article in English | CINAHL | ID: covidwho-20242948


Despite the widespread use of distance learning during the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, little is known about the developmental appropriateness of this instructional format for preschoolers, particularly when implemented in inclusive settings. The current research was implemented in a university-affiliated, state-funded inclusive preschool classroom focused on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) where parents were given the option to enroll in a full distance program (FDP) during the first 9 weeks of the 2020/21 school year. Parents of four children, including two children with ASD, selected the FDP option. Synchronous whole group, small group, and individual online sessions were recorded using screen capture and coded for children's maintained attention and directed communication. Further, parents and teachers completed exit interviews or a focus group, which were transcribed and analyzed using qualitative research methods. This is the first study to use observational methods to measure child engagement during preschool FDP sessions. Results from this mixed-method multiple case study paint a rich picture of both opportunities and limitations inherent in distance learning when implemented in inclusive preschool settings. General conclusions, future directions, and study limitations are discussed.