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January 15, 2021 Friday 11:54:53 AM IST

Families' remote learning experience during lockdown positive

Parent Interventions

The remote learning experience of parents who had their children at home in Spring 2020, as schools across the US closed during the United States' COVID-19 lockdown, was more positive than widely believed. That is the suggestion from a new study published in the Journal of School Choice, which looked at the experience of a nationally representative sample of 1,700 parents stretching right across America. On average only 44% of parents reported the online learning program required too much of parents, while 38% of parents said it was difficult for them to manage the online provisions.

However, worryingly, most parents (63%) believed remote learning caused their child to fall behind. While the study focused on 3,414 children's parents' experiences, the results revealed to the experts from the University of Colorado, at Colorado Springs, a broad picture of the provision different types of schools offered too.

These findings show more than 80% of schools provided some type of remote learning after closing because of the pandemic. Parents generally rated the programs as effective and the resources as helpful, however most (67%) characterized their engagement as heavily involved daily.

Almost 30% of the time mothers and fathers managed the responsibility equally. Parents spent about 2.5 hours per day helping with schoolwork; children spent about an hour more each day in remote learning. 82% of participants reported their schools eventually developed some type of remote learning. 10% reported schools cancelled classes and provided no remote learning, with the remainder resuming or continuing classes until the end of the school year.

For families in schools cancelling classes and providing no resources, most students (49%) spent their time primarily watching TV and playing games. Only 28% engaged in a learning program created by parents. The remainder worked around the house, worked for pay, or pursued other interests.

Results were not, however, uniform across school type. According to parents, private schools frequently appeared to be the most responsive, engaged, and innovative, followed by charters and then traditional public schools.

Also contrary to predictions throughout summer 2020 about parents' school choices for Fall 2020, only a small percentage of survey respondents said they were going to homeschool in the new school year. However, more than a third planned to send their child to a virtual school. Of those who were not going to send their children to brick and mortar schools, concern about their child's health was the dominant and predictable motivation.

The study results, although specific only to Spring 2020, provide important information about remote learning in the future. The survey featured 44 mostly closed-ended questions about the resources families had during at-home schooling, how children spent their day, how much time was spent on schoolwork, communication with school, assessment of the experience, plans for the 2021 school year, and basic demographics.

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