School #FromHome: The Challenges of Online Learning for Parents and Kids

School #FromHome: The Challenges of Online Learning for Parents and Kids

With classrooms closed and millions of kids faced with schooling at home, parents are wondering how do we make this work? If you’re asking yourself that question, you’re certainly not alone. Earlier this month, we conducted a study, Distance Learning Challenges. We reached out to 1,000 parents of kindergarten through twelfth-grade students in the U.S. and asked for their thoughts.

Our goal of the survey was to better understand what pressures parents are feeling, and we wanted to identify how we could possibly help, even if in some small way, as children take up going to class online. Here’s what parents had to say:

Home School Challenges

The Top Five Difficulties

Whether they have kindergarteners or high school seniors, parents are sharing many of the same pains. Across the board, they are:

1)      Keeping their children focused on schoolwork (instead of other online activities) – 50.31%

2)      Establishing a daily routine – 49.26%

3)      Balancing household responsibilities and teaching – 41.83%

4)      Establishing a wake-up and bedtime schedule – 33.40%

5)      Balancing working from home and teaching – 33.31%

Also making a strong showing were “help understanding the content to be taught,” at 33.20% and “reducing anxiety and depression due to real-world concerns,” at 31.58%.

Top Difficulties by Grade Level

There are nuances by grade level, however. Keeping children on task ranked first or second in all grade levels except for kindergarten, third grade, and twelfth grade. Instead, these parents cited “establishing a daily routine” as their top concern. For their number two concern, kindergarten and third grade students called out “balancing household responsibilities and teaching” as an issue.

Parents of twelfth graders were the only ones to list “reducing anxiety and depression due to real-world concerns” as their second topmost care, at 43%. This is a broad category, yet it includes overall worry about COVID-19, sick family members and friends, or separation from classmates. This is particularly understandable—senior year is one of milestones and leaps ahead in life, all of which have been upended by the need to stay home.

What Devices are Kids Using

Most parents in our survey said that their kids are using a device that’s already in the home. Some children may have their own device, or it may be a device that the family shares (which can introduce pressures of its own). A small percentage (15%) said their children use a device that was purchased specifically for home schooling purposes. Meanwhile, only about 33% of parents said that their child has a device provided by their school for free.

And what are they working on? It appears to be a mix of devices.

  • Laptop computers – 62%
  • Tablets – 40%
  • Desktop computers – 25%
  • 2-in-1 laptop computers – 15%

Helping Where We Can

Different states, cities, and individual schools are responding to the need for homeschooling in their own way, which means that the situation from family to family (or even child to child) will differ. The common thread is that we’re all learning how to manage our day and to make the best of learning at home in the most challenging of circumstances.

With that in mind, we’re producing a series of articles on School #FromHome, written in conjunction with educators who are facing the same challenges you are. Our aim is to offer you some specific advice and resources to help make it all easier as you determine what learning at home looks like for your child and your family. Look for these articles right here on the McAfee blog.


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