COVID-19 Pandemic: Factors that Support and Impede Family Well-Being During Mandatory Homeschooling
Hélène Deacon, Leadership Team - DAL
23 January 2022
This project is led by Dr. Hélène Deacon, Ensuring Full Literacy Co-Lead and Director of the Language and Literacy Lab and Dr. Sherry Stewart, Director of the Mood, Anxiety, and Addiction Co-morbidity Lab at Dalhousie University, along with, Dr. Klaudia Krenca (Postdoctoral Fellow), Mariam Elgendi (Graduate Student), Daneesha Williams and Sarah Dunphy (Undergraduate Students).
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions to work and family life like never before. For many parents, traditional care supports were suspended with no notice, leaving them to balance homeschooling their children while working from home, with varying degrees of support from education systems. The broad objective of this project is to examine how families functioned through this massive disruption.
Within this broader project, we took this opportunity to explore how these changes in education through the pandemic might impact how children read at home. Specifically, we are interested in whether there is a shift to reading in a digital form, over paper, and also how reading strategies might differ across these media. We test these questions within different educational contexts: those mandated to homeschool (i.e., schooled at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic), (2) those homeschooling voluntarily (i.e., schooled at home for reasons unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic), and (3) those who are schooled in-person (i.e. attended in-person classes during the COVID-19 pandemic).
January 2022 Update
We explore these questions with data from a survey launched between March and May 2021. During this time, 962 couples were surveyed and asked to complete a set of questions on their homeschooling environment (e.g., degree of daily routine, access to the internet and non-smartphone technology, type of schooling delivery, type and frequency of paper and digital reading strategies) reflecting on the time period between January 15 to February 15, 2021. Parents reported on their youngest child between Grades 1 and 5.
June 2022 Update
We explored these questions with data from a survey launched between March and May 2021. During this time, 962 couples were surveyed and asked to complete a set of questions on the type and frequency of paper and digital reading strategies (sounding out words, discussing prior knowledge of the topic, checking in on understanding, and encouraging recapping) reflecting on the time period between January 15 to February 15, 2021. Parents reported on their youngest child between Grades 1 and 5.
We report the preliminary results below.
- Do changes to schooling as a result of COVID-19 influence the modality (paper versus using a screen) in which children are reading?
When comparing the use of reading strategies between paper and screen modalities, results indicated that both mandated homeschoolers and in-person learners employed reading strategies while reading on paper more frequently than while reading on a screen. No difference was found between modalities for voluntary homeschoolers.
While reading on paper, both in-person learners and mandated homeschoolers used reading strategies more frequently than voluntary homeschoolers, with no difference between in-person learners and mandated homeschoolers.
While reading on a screen, mandated homeschoolers employed digital reading strategies more frequently than both in-person learners and voluntary homeschoolers. No difference was found between in-person learners and voluntary homeschoolers for the digital modality.
- Does the nature of schooling through COVID-19 influence the type of reading strategies that are being used while reading on paper versus using a screen?
Overall, sounding out while reading and discussing prior knowledge of the topic were employed more frequently by in-person learners and mandated homeschoolers relative to voluntary homeschoolers. In terms of checking in on understanding and encouraging recapping, mandated homeschoolers employed these strategies more frequently relative to voluntary homeschoolers with no difference between in-person learners and mandated homeschoolers. There was no significant interaction between strategy type, modality, and homeschooling group.
Future planned analyses will examine whether these relationships vary with children’s age (e.g., early elementary 5-7 years old, middle elementary 8-12 years old).