Parents across the country have said that juggling their kids' lessons and homework has proved to be overwhelming

By Rachel DeSantis
May 01, 2020 01:27 PM
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It’s been nearly two months since schools in the United States closed their doors and sent students home to carry on their lessons through a screen.

Due to the coronavirus, American pupils from kindergarten to senior year were forced to swap blackboards for Zoom — much to the dismay of the parents now forced to step in as surrogate teachers.

A viral tweet from archeologist and University of Alabama at Birmingham professor Sarah Parcak summed up many frustrated parents’ emotions after she said homeschooling after completing other household chores was a “f---ing joke” that made her “want to barf.”

“We just wrote a hard email. I told our son’s (lovely, kind, caring) teacher that, no, we will not be participating in her 'virtual classroom,' and that he was done with the 1st grade,” she wrote on April 8. “We cannot cope with this insanity. Survival and protecting his well being come first.”

The feeling is mutual among celebrity parents too, like Kristen Bell and Halle Berry.

Bell recently shared a review that her first-grade daughter wrote describing her teaching skills, in which she was described as having “no patience,” “bad reactions, a “stern voice” and a lack of faith in her daughter.

Berry, meanwhile, told Entertainment Tonight that homeschooling her 12-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son has been a “nightmare.”

“This is like, a wash of a semester,” she said. “They’re really just not learning anything and it’s hard.”

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For many parents, it’s been overwhelming having to juggle overlapping assignments, projects and livestreams for more than one child in different grades.

“I was feeling like a failure. I thought, ‘I just can’t do this,” Pennsylvania mom of three Kara Illig told the Associated Press. “It’s just a terrible situation and we’re all trying to adapt and survive.”

Illig told the outlet that she even shared her struggles on a private parent-teacher group on Facebook, and after other parents responded with similar concerns, her school district told teachers to stop assigning work with a daily deadline.

For other families, a lack of resources such as reliable internet and printers make the challenge of learning from home even harder.

Yarlin Matos, who has seven children ages 3-13, told The New York Times that she had to spend part of her stimulus check on five Amazon Fire tablets because they did not arrive as promised from New York City’s education department.

Matos is in school herself, pursuing a psychology degree at Bronx Community College. She told the Times she sometimes has to stay up until 3 a.m. to get her own work done.

“I had a breaking moment where I had to lock myself in the bathroom and cry. It was just too much,” she said.

Meanwhile, Tawana Brown in South Bend, Indiana drives her family to a parking lot each day so that they can sit near school buses equipped with WiFi, as her house does not have affordable, reliable internet access, Today reported.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll in late March found that in households where parents earn less than $50,000 total annually, 72 percent are at least somewhat concerned about their child falling behind academically.

Meanwhile, only 56 percent of parents in high-income households felt the same way.

Jon E. Pedersen, dean of the University of South Carolina College of Education, told Today that while parents aren’t wrong to be worried about their kids’ academics, they should be more focused on making sure their children are dealing with their stress and anxiety properly.

“Could this mean that there is a lag in their learning? Of course. But they will not be alone and most schools in the coming year will need to deal with the issue of what was ‘missed’ during this crisis,” he said. “The academic aspects of learning can be made up. We can recover from this.”

That stress and anxiety was seen in an email from a parent to Ronda McIntyre, a fifth-grade teacher in Columbus, Ohio.

“She gets frustrated every time we start and then I get irritated and she gets irritated and it usually ends in me saying we should take a break and then the cycle repeats. One or both of us typically ends up in tears by the time it’s all said and done and no work is completed,” the email read, according to the Times.

McIntyre said that of her 25 students, just six participate in lessons regularly.

Education experts have reportedly recommended making a schedule for kids so that it feels more like school, and creating a dedicated space for them to work to help ease the burden.

Still, the U.S. Department of Education has reportedly said that there is a possibility that students may have to repeat a grade.

“I am hopeful that the ‘silver lining’ in this crisis and tragedy,” Pedersen told Today, “is that we finally do something to ensure that all children have equal access to the same learning opportunities.”