Almost two thirds of parents found home schooling ‘challenging’

ireland
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Digital Desk staff

Almost two third of parents found home schooling their children a challenge during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new survey.

The survey of over a thousand adults, conducted at two separate points both before the pandemic and after the Covid-19 lockdown in July, found that 64 per cent of parents described the experience as “very challenging” or “quite challenging”.

For 62 per cent of parents, finding the time for home schooling was difficult. The reported difficulty of the situation increasing with the age of the child, as 85 per cent of parents who had a teenager said lessons were a challenge.

The survey was carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes on behalf of Sherpa Kids, which provides school-age childcare in 50 primary schools across Ireland.

While it is possible for parents to juggle teaching and professional duties, parents generally cannot devote time to both. This has created a tenser, more stressful home life.

“The majority of parents have found it challenging to home-school their children. Our experience tells us that while it is possible for parents to juggle teaching and professional duties, parents generally cannot devote time to both. This has created a tenser, more stressful home life,” John Miles, Managing Director of Sherpa Kids said.

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The survey also found that the vast majority of parents across Ireland believe that the pandemic has negatively impacted their child’s education, mental health and daily life, with 91 per cent feeling that Covid-19 had impacted their child in some form.

Close to 60 per cent of parents believed their child’s mental health and development had been impacted by the pandemic, 67 per cent said the virus had impacted their child’s education while 80 per cent said it had impacted their routine and daily life.

Whatever their age, children need some form of structure and routine. They need to be socialised with their peers and have clearly demarcated home and school lives. The lockdown has obviously disrupted this structure.

“What is particularly concerning is the effect of lockdown on children’s mental health. Most parents have reported adverse changes to their child’s routine, education, and personal development because of restrictions on their schooling and social life,” Mr Miles said.

“Whatever their age, children need some form of structure and routine. They need to be socialised with their peers and have clearly demarcated home and school lives. The lockdown has obviously disrupted this structure.”

Mental health

The survey additionally found that close to half or 47 per cent of parents would avail of mental health support services for their child as they return to school following their closure during the Covid-19 lockdown, while 82 per cent of the group already concerned for their child’s mental health would do so.

More than two-thirds felt that the Government should be providing more mental health and wellbeing supports to children, while 42 per cent felt they should come from local authorities and 31 per cent believed they should come from childcare providers.

Sherpa Kids has now partnered with youth mental health initiative Buddy Bench, a not-for-profit Irish organisation which teaches younger children positive mindset, resilience and coping strategies, to roll out the programme in its schools.

“As a society, we owe it to our children to give them the best possible start in life. We need to make sure that Covid-19 and the lockdown do not leave a permanent mark on this young generation’s education and career prospects,” Mr Miles said.

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