Hoboken, NJ (May 6, 2020) -- 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 -- though facing a range of emotions -- are embracing the COVID-era education experience with their children.
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 -- from the satisfaction of being more involved in their child’s learning to concerns about COVID-related stress and mental health and 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 Parent Pulse Report’s top findings include:
- Students are managing better than their parents, and parents appreciate the extra time with their kids: While 80% of parents say their child is handling the transition better than they are, many parents are enjoying the involvement in their child’s education. Of the 79% of parents who say they’ve taken a bigger role in helping their children, more than two-thirds (69%) say it’s been a gratifying experience. 83% of parents also say they feel increasingly confident helping their children with lessons.
- Teachers get high marks, even without online experience or training: While 81% of parents believe teachers need more training in online teaching, 88% feel that their child's teacher has done a good job teaching and supporting students during this time.
- Reality of school interruptions and longer term online learning is setting in for parents: 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 are concerned that COVID-19 will affect or delay the start of school in the fall. That’s up from 60% at the beginning of the pandemic in March.* As a result, 88% of parents believe online learning will become a long lasting requirement for their child and 91% believe schools need to be better prepared to switch to virtual learning programs. In addition, 83% now support using virtual learning for smaller scale school disruptions, such as snow days.
- Still, parents worry about mental health effects of the COVID experience: Although 89% of parents say that the disruption of school has added to overall feelings of stress and anxiety among young people, the accounts of those issues in their own children are unchanged since February. Just over half (56%) have said their child has felt anxious or depressed. In addition, 60% of parents say their child has friends or classmates who are struggling with mental health or anxiety right now. Both numbers are on par with what parents reported pre-pandemic.
- How are people coping? By doing away with limits on screen time: In February, 77% of parents said they had household rules about the use of technology. Now, an equal amount (76%) say they have suspended those rules and have done away with limits on screen time, restrictions on social media or other tech-related rules. 81% of parents say the benefits of online learning outweigh concerns over screen time (up from 70% in February) and 84% say technology is helping their child to be more self-sufficient (up from 80% in February).
- With growing concern about a drop-off in learning, parents just want the basics from schools, and are less concerned about college prep or social experiences: Prior to the pandemic, 68% of parents polled in February say they expected schools to prepare their child for college, now only 55% of parents are concerned about that. In addition, 70% of parents in February wanted schools to offer a positive social experience, now only 53% see that as a priority. In March, 64% of Americans worried about children falling behind in school. That number has now climbed to 69%.* It’s likely why two thirds (65%) of parents say they expect schools to provide a quality academic experience during the pandemic, even though only half (53%) think schools are doing that well right now.