Homeschooling: Caught in the Crossfire
By Esraa Ali
The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed double roles and tasks on families all over the world, the first and foremost of which is home education or what is called “distance education” or “homeschooling”. In light of coexistence and adaptation with the pandemic, which has become a fait accompli that has no alternative, parents have found no way but to homeschool their children, in an attempt to compensate them for the halt in their education as a result of closing schools. However, for ample and crosscutting reasons, this was not the best solution in some countries. There are two parties in this concern: supporters and opponents debating about the feasibility of homeschooling.
Are Families Ready?
The different opinions of parents about home education can be seen as an interpretation of assorted data. Based on the analysis of families’ preparations for home education around the world, it has become crystal clear that there are overlapping factors that influence the opinions of the supporters and opponents. Some of these factors are as follows:
The Age Structure of Family Members: Young parents surely have a greater ability to bear the burdens of distance education and carry out the required tasks.
The Number of Family Members: The factor of time is directly proportional to the number of members in a family, and it is imperative to divide hours and labor among family members to educate the children.
The Educational Level of the Family: This does not necessarily mean the ability to read and write only, but it rather goes beyond that to denote the ability to use technology (technological skills), especially e-learning applications.
Household Income and Its Average Annual Expenditure: The economic gap between countries and its effects on home education can be strongly evident.
The Quality of the Technological and Digital Infrastructure: As a key factor for adopting and promoting e-learning, this is another area that shows the gap between many countries of the world.
The matrix factor will show the varying willingness of families to bear the burdens of homeschooling during the pandemic since the burdens overlap between physical, psychological, and moral aspects, so that the factors that are in favor of and in opposition to home education will be determined and explained.
Challenges and Benefits
The pandemic created multiple tasks and roles for parents, so they had to become teachers without prior training on that besides other daily responsibilities and chores. One task has been educating children about the emerging situations and the necessary measures to protect themselves and to protect others. This task required creating a daily routine that begins at home by providing sterilization tools and protective supplies for children. Also, parents had to provide psychological support by spreading positive vibes in the hearts of their children, since the closure of schools, self-isolation and the deprivation of social interaction at the schools have exposed them to a psychological trauma. Then comes the role of guiding and monitoring the academic progress of children.
Despite these pressures and challenges associated with homeschooling, this international experience has produced various benefits, the most important of which is the awareness of parents of what their children need to learn. Parents have become, officially, key partners in the education of their children, besides teachers and the school. Also, with no doubt, improved communication between family members has been one of the most important advantages of homeschooling as some parents may say that lockdown had allowed them to ‘re-discover’ their children!
In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the necessity of evaluating educational systems around the world in order to ensure the advancement of distance education; the development of electronic educational projects, whether digital or interactive platforms, and the reduction of the electronic gap between countries in terms of infrastructure, capacities and skills. The economic factors need to be taken into consideration. Equally importantly, social factors should be considered to reduce disparity in education between countries as well as regional disparity.