Parents across the UK breathed a sigh of relief as their kids finally headed back to school this week, but the responsibilities of home educating has taken a considerable toll on their mental health, a new survey has revealed
The research, commissioned by online training provider Home Speed Training, polled 2,000 parents who have been home schooling their children (age 2–16) throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last year, 87% of households across the country had a child who required home schooling. With schools being forced to close their doors for the safety of learning communities, Mums and Dads nationwide have been taking on teaching duties alongside working from home.
“I am worried for my 13-year-old daughter. She’s missed out on so much learning, and I’m afraid she’s going to struggle to catch-up.
“She’s the type of person who suffers a crisis of confidence really easily on an academic front, and any struggles she has over the next couple of years due to her attempting to get back on track will really set her back” – Claire Anderson, parent of Flo (13) and Louie (16), West Yorkshire
The parental survey revealed that more than one in 10 children did not have access to a comfortable study space while learning from home, with almost half (49%) of parents admitting that they struggled to keep their child motivated throughout the periods of school closures.
Almost a third (31%) of the parents surveyed said they would have liked more virtual interaction between the teacher and their child, with two-fifths (40%) agreeing that carrying these responsibilities significantly reduced the time they had for themselves.
“My eldest absolutely loves school and the social aspect of not being around her peers has had an impact and I do feel that she’s missed out on valuable education time that is not east to replicate via video chat” – Chris Ball, parent of Grace (8) and Charles (2), Cheshire
Not only this, but almost half (44%) of respondents said the pandemic has made their child much less physically active, and more than a fifth (22%) believe their child’s mental health has suffered as a result. With millions of kids being deprived of interaction with their friends and classmates for the best part of a year, a third (32%) of parents voiced concerns that their child’s social skills and confidence have also taken a hit.
And while more than a third (36%) of poll participants said that home schooling increased their levels of stress and anxiety, 22% of parents actually felt that its overall impact has been positive, ultimately bringing their family closer together. Conversely, a fifth (18%) of parents said the opposite, claiming that spending so much time in an intense educational setting negatively affected their relationship with their child.
“It was putting a strain on our relationship, particularly with the subjects he found more challenging and the fact I wasn’t familiar with the way in which the school taught certain methods. Home is supposed to be his safe place so, while I miss having him around all the time, I’m glad he gets to come home to me and I can just be his Mum again” – Karansa Murray, parent of Mickey (6), North Yorkshire
The pressures of home schooling meant that over a third (39%) of parents were only home schooling their child for four hours or less each day – a considerable reduction on their regular school activities (5–7 hours).
School specialist at High Speed Training, Rosalyn Sword, commented: “It’s clear we are going to be seeing the effects of home schooling for many years to come. Teachers across the UK are now faced with a major challenge to ‘rebuild’ education for our children, and help children and parents alike to get back on track.
“Whilst it will still be of the utmost importance to teach the syllabus, there is also a huge task ahead to help regain our children’s confidence and social skills as they re-enter the classroom.”