Some parents say they're not homeschooling during the coronavirus pandemic because it's too stressful (Emily Cavanagh,Eleanor Goldberg Fox)


About 30 million US children are out of school due to the coronavirus.


When Christine Tyler, a middle school teacher in Seattle, Washington, learned earlier this month that her children's schools were closing due to the coronavirus, she decided right away that she wouldn't homeschool her two teenagers.

Their teachers aren't providing remote learning classes, and developing a homeschool program just felt like too much of a burden, even to Tyler, who has 12 years of teaching experience and has won multiple education awards. 

"It's such an uncertain time right now. Our kids are going through this change," said Tyler, who teaches computer science at Johns Hopkins University's online program for gifted children. "To add the stress of becoming a homeschool teacher – that was not something I was willing to take on."

Nearly 30 million US students have been impacted by school closures due to the coronavirus. Some schools are offering remote learning opportunities, but many aren't, or haven't yet organized them. For children who are in preschool or daycare, online learning is limited to as little as 30 minutes a day, if anything at all.

Due to nationwide school closures, parents have been tasked with educating their children

For many children, that means there's a significant chunk of unscheduled time. As a result, parents, many of whom are working remotely, have frontline jobs, or don't have their partners or caregivers at home, have been tasked with becoming instructors and activity directors. 

Some parents have taken on this new role on with gusto, sharing color-coded homeschool schedules and lesson plans on social media.


But others like Tyler are abstaining from teaching their children, saying they don't have the time with everything else going on. Many also feel that it's unrealistic to suddenly expect a parent to become an educator without any preparation.

"We all need to just get through the day at this point," said Tova Stulman, a mother of two who works full time as a nonprofit writer. "Being on top of their schedules and trying to do my work remotely – something's gotta give."

Stulman has decided not to homeschool and is giving her children some freedom to choose how they spend their time. They're doing a lot of puzzles and playing board games. The New Jersey resident said she's trying her best to limit their screentime.

A career teacher said she's not even equipped to homeschool her own children

Even if a parent would like to homeschool, developing a worthwhile program would realistically "take years" to accomplish, Tyler said. The middle school teacher noted that even she doesn't have the background to educate her seventh and tenth graders. 

"I am not the person for the job," Tyler said. 

Many parents are balancing working remotely, managing the home, and taking care of their children.

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Parents who aren't homeschooling say they don't want to subject their children to any added stress

Some parents who Insider spoke to said that they're aware that their children may fall behind academically. But they realize that once school resumes, teachers will have to take into account that every child will have had a different learning experience.

At this point, many parents say they're more concerned about the consequences of pushing their children too hard.

"I feel like fighting with him, bribing him, or punishing him to get him to do schoolwork just isn't worth it," Andrea Pinkus said of her third grader who has ADHD and struggles to focus even under typical circumstances. "I don't see any benefits to doing so, and I think it could do a lot of damage to our family's mental health."  



Pinkus, who lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, has four children and is a stay-at-home-mom. Her husband is a physician at a hospital and is working long hours. Her children's schools closed on March 16 and haven't provided remote learning opportunities yet.

She said she's consumed daily with watching the kids, doing laundry, cooking, and taking care of anything else that comes up. There isn't much time left for anything else.

Throughout the day, Pinkus' children, who range in age from 2 to 9, do art projects, read, and bake. Pinkus makes sure her children get outside every day for an hour.

The family computer is set up so the children only have access to educational websites, math games, and science videos. 

"They all learn just by living, playing, reading," Pinkus said.

Christine Tyler, a career teacher, is allowing her children to decide how to spend their days

Tyler agrees that this is an auspicious opportunity for children to take ownership of their education. 

"It's a time to think about what they are interested in learning and doing," Tyler said of her approach. "The best learning happens when you just give kids some time to go outside and build a fort."

Tyler's two sons are keeping busy by playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends on Zoom and learning Japanese — on their own. They take walks, garden, and analyze the stock market.

Many teachers have acknowledged that it isn't realistic to expect all parents to homeschool under these trying conditions. 

"My first grader's teacher sent out a message saying that if trying to homeschool your child is causing stress, it's OK to skip it and focus on family," Pinkus said. "I agree with that one hundred percent."

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