Homeschooling: What was it like for you?

8 Sep 2020 | Parents, Professionals

Due to Corona protection measures, schools were closed for several months this spring. Just before the Summer holidays schools re-opened for part of the time. Parents took over the role of teacher and provided homeschooling. For most parents this took some getting used to! With schools re-opening fully for the Autumn term, there is time to look back. What have they learned for when schools might have to close again?

Marina Ilias,

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, LEARN! – research program Child Rearing



What did parents notice about their child’s (learning) behavior?

Some parents were positively impressed by the self-motivated behavior of their children when they did their schoolwork or by how much they already knew or could do. Some children were seen as thriving and enjoyed being home. A few children really liked to do school tasks with their parents. Children were also seen to learn a lot from things aside from schoolwork. Other parents noted distinct difficulties with motivation and attention in their children. Some parents attributed this to laziness. A few parents were unimpressed by how little their child knew or could do. Whereas other parents noted a lack of challenge by the teaching materials.

What problems or obstacles did parents encounter?

A few parents indicated in their response to this question that they didn’t run into any difficulties and rather enjoyed this time. However, most parents reported one or multiple issues they encountered when homeschooling, among which four themes stand out:

  • Difficulties in establishing a good structure / planning during the week.
  • Difficulties combining homeschooling with parents’ own work and/or the care for several children in the family.
  • Teaching challenges, such as: children did not always understand the parents’ explanations or did not want to accept them.
  • Difficulties in motivating their child for schoolwork. For example, when children were easily distracted or because “the tablet was too much fun”.

What strategies worked well for parents?

We were also curious what helped people in making family life work in these challenging times. Listed below are the four success factors that parents mentioned most often when we asked what strategies worked well for their families during the homeschooling period.

  • Although mentioned by some parents as an obstacle to overcome a good day / week schedule or routine was cited by nearly half of the parents as a success factor for the homeschooling period. On the contrary, a few parents indicated that they did not have a fixed schedule. What worked well for them was to follow their child’s cues / needs.
  • Making clear agreements with each other, setting rules and sharing tasks with their partner.
  • Paying full attention to your child while homeschooling, and not letting yourself be distracted by other things such as work.
  • “Keep it fun”: take breaks, create fun moments, talk to your child and put the well-being of your child before (home) work.

In all  the homeschooling period was a challenge for most parents at least initially. Families found it hard to adapt to the new situation, but also found ways to cope. However, families differed in their experiences, and some even flourished during this time. Within the Generations² research project, supported by LEARN funding, we like to build on the themes identified in this pilot study. We aim to find out more about circumstances or characteristics that might determine how well families are able to cope during such challenges. Why did some families find it more difficult to adapt than others? Can we identify factors that make it easier and factors that make it harder? We hope to answer these and other questions with the help of the 1500 Generation²-families.













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