• COVID-19 forced millions of parents around the world to educate their children at home.
  • At the start of the pandemic, nearly 80% of parents were educating their child at home.
  • This came alongside a plethora of issues for parents, including a lack of resources such as computers and poor internet connection and a feeling of being overwhelmed.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented parents with new challenges on how best to prepare and support their children for a different school experience. In the early days of the pandemic, nearly 80% of parents were educating their child at home.

“Social distancing and stay-at-home orders disconnected millions of children from in-person education and left little time for parents to prepare to support their children’s education at home,” says Shawna Lee, associate professor of social work at the University of Michigan, director of the Parenting in Context Research Lab, and lead author of the study.

The researchers examined parenting and factors related to the transition to homeschooling and online learning experienced early in the pandemic.

COVID-19 Education and Skills Education, Gender and Work SDG 04: Quality Education
Two out of every five parents met the criteria for major depression.
Image: Parenting in Context

Launched in mid-April, about four weeks after the White House administered social distancing guidelines to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the survey included responses from 405 US parents who had at least one child age 12 and under. About half of the parents had a child between the ages of 2 and 5.

Among the findings:

  • Half of parents felt overwhelmed by their responsibilities to educate their children at home and one in four felt they did not have the resources they needed for at-home education.
  • About 24% of parents indicated that their child was fearful or anxious and 30% of parents indicated their child was nervous, high strung, or tense.
  • Two out of every five parents met the criteria for major depression and criteria for moderate or severe anxiety.
  • Nearly 60% of parents who utilized free or reduced-cost breakfast or lunch programs were no longer able to receive that resource. This problem suggests that many school-age children faced hungeras the pandemic continued.
  • Economic hardship was common among the parents surveyed—24% reported an employment status change (e.g., laid off, furloughed) due to COVID-19.

Overall, however, 55% felt prepared for the educational responsibilities. For them, 77% opted for online tools or social media to teach their kids and 71% received support from the school. Some respondents said they collaborated with other parents.