Homeschooling puts strain on parent-child relationship, survey finds

Three quarters of parents said they were stressed trying to balance demands

Three in four parents believe their child needs supervision while carrying out school work as they sometimes struggle to apply themselves at home. Photograph: iStock

Three in four parents believe their child needs supervision while carrying out school work as they sometimes struggle to apply themselves at home. Photograph: iStock

 

The majority of parents say homeschooling during lockdown has put a strain on their relationship with their children at times, a new survey has found.

Rural parents were struggling more than their urban counterparts in this regard, as 65 per cent reported a strain on the relationship they have with their children due to homeschooling. This compares to 54 per cent of parents living in urban areas reporting the same.

A new Red C surveyof 1,028 parents conducted on behalf of Mental Health Ireland highlights some of the challenges caused by the stresses of homeschooling during the pandemic. A third of parents said their work performance has suffered as a result of trying to homeschool their children. Stress levels during lockdown have been significant, with 78 per cent of parents claiming they were more stressed trying to balance all that is required of them.

Three in four parents believe their child needs supervision while carrying out school work as they sometimes struggle to apply themselves at home. More than half of parents (56 per cent) felt computer gaming was a distraction to their children, while 45 per cent said their children get distracted by social media. The majority of children (80 per cent) have been spending fewer than four hours on school work per day. Children aged six to 12 were most likely of all age-groups to devote more than three hours to schoolwork each day. Some 70 per cent of respondents’ children had no social contact outside of the family home.

Emailed homework and pre-recorded lessons are viewed by parents as far less effective than interactive platforms. A quarter of parents favoured the interactive teaching platform Seesaw, while another quarter had a preference for live online lessons. A fifth of parents said Zoom was the most beneficial platform for teaching.

Meanwhile, two thirds of people living in rural areas reported having reliable broadband sufficient for homeschooling needs, compared to 81 per cent of urban dwellers. Close to a third of respondents said their household broadband was not affordable.

Colman Noctor, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and Board Member of Mental Health Ireland, said the mix of stressed parents and isolated children “does not bode well for the mental health needs of families”. That 70 per cent of children are socially isolated is “worrying from a child development point of view”.

“As we look towards the reopening of schools in the coming weeks we have to be aware of the impact of three months of social isolation for many of these children,” he added.