New Study Finds Parents Are Relaxing Screen Time Rules While Distance Learning

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It’s no surprise that kids are in front of screens now more than ever. New research on education during the COVID-19 pandemic finds that the majority of parents say their child is handling online learning better than they are. Pearson, the world’s learning company, and Connections Academy, which delivers full-time online school for grades K-12, released the results of their Parent Pulse Report, and found that parents are embracing this new education experience with their children.

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The Parent Pulse Report tracks parent sentiment in the US from February to mid-April, and reveals that parents remain nearly unanimous in their support for closing schools during the pandemic. However, it also confirms that the experience has come with highs and lows. Parents enjoy playing a greater role in their child’s learning. They also have concerns related to stress and mental health as well as uncertainties over the next school year. 

“As school closures reach their second full month with no clear end in sight, parents are learning to juggle the complexities of schooling at home — even finding some silver lining amid the challenges,” said Mickey Revenaugh, co-founder of Pearson’s Connections Academy. “While most would agree that what they’re experiencing now is a far cry from online learning at its best, families give kudos to their teachers and say they enjoy being involved in their children’s learning. Their positive resilience bodes well for the future of education in these uncertain times.”

The study shows that while students are managing better than parents, parents are enjoying the extra time with their kids. Of the 79% of parents who say they’ve taken a bigger role in helping their children, more than two-thirds say it’s been a gratifying experience. 83% of parents also say they feel increasingly confident helping their children with lessons.

Parents are very appreciative of the work their child’s teachers are putting forth. While 81% of parents believe that teachers should receive more training in online teaching, 88% feel that their child’s teacher has done a good job teaching and supporting their students during this time.

While 94% of parents say closing schools was the right call, there is a growing concern among Americans about the possibility of more school disruptions in the fall. 77% of Americans feel that COVID-19 will affect or delay the start of school in the fall, which is up from 66% in March. As a result, 88% of parents believe online learning will become a long lasting requirement for children and 91% believe that schools need to be better prepared to switch to virtual learning programs. Additionally, 83% of parents now support using virtual learning for snow days and other smaller scale learning disruptions.

The overall mental health effects of the past few months have parents concerned as well. Although 89% of parents say the disruption of school has added to feelings of stress and anxiety among young people, issues among their own children remain unchanged since February. A little over half of the parents surveyed reported that their child has experienced feelings of anxiety or depression. 

Parents are also less concerned with college prep and social experiences, wanting schools to just provide the basics. More parents are concerned their child will fall behind in their studies. They expect schools to provide a quality experience during this time.

—Jennifer Swartvagher

All photos courtesy Julia M Cameron via Pexels


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