Last updated on October 12, 2021

With schools closed across Canada, learning has looked very different in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It isn’t just the disrupted academic year, but the challenge parents nationwide face to help their kids to keep studying.

Roughly two months into school closures, how do Canadian parents feel?

In this week’s COVID report we look at what the parents on Caddle’s 10,000 member daily survey panel told us about their experiences with home learning.

Despite the disruptions, including financial hardship and the need for sudden new purchases, parents were positive overall about the situation.

How are schools doing?

Overall, parents are positive about how schools have handled the COVID-19 crisis.  

Looking specifically at parents who said they had been directly impacted by school closures, we found 43% were positive about how schools had handled the situation. This compares with 16% with a negative outlook.

Albertans were the most positive about their schools’ response, with half of parents holding a positive view, compared to 39.6% in Ontario.

However, concerns remain across the country about the impact of the closures on education. 80% of parents said they believed the COVID-19 crisis had impacted the quality of education.

The Financial Impact

School closures are putting a financial burden on parents, too. Of those directly impacted by the shutdown, 36% said they had experienced financial hardship as a result.

Part of this would undoubtedly be explained by the broader economic situation, in addition to increased challenges between home and work life for parents. But there is another possible factor: additional purchases parents have had to make to facilitate home study.

Purchasing school supplies

Since Canadian schools closed, just over a third of parents on the panel have had to purchase or borrow school supplies.  About half of parents anticipate not needing to purchase any school supplies, but what will the other half need to buy?

Accessories such as pens, books, and paper topped the list with just under a quarter of parents anticipating they would need to buy them.

But there are some notable bigger purchases on the list, too. Almost a fifth of parents anticipated needing to buy either a laptop (12.9%) or a printer (6.7%).

Perhaps as a result of the economic situation, or the nature of the purchases, brand name is not a big factor in these purchases. Instead parents are making school supplies purchases on the basis of price and availability.

How are parents feeling about homeschooling?

Despite the disruption and financial costs, parents have, if anything, become more positive about homeschooling.

We asked parents to rate how they felt about homeschooling before the closures compared to now.

What we see is a shift towards more positive views among those directly affected. Just over a quarter (25.7%) said they felt positively about homeschool prior to school closures. After two months of closures, this has risen to 33.3% — a 30% rise in positive sentiment. 

This means there is now a slight net positive feeling towards homeschooling from parents affected by closures (33.3% positive vs 27.7% negative).

However this is not because the experience has changed minds from negative to positive. Most of the shift has come from those who told us they were undecided prior to closures.

The financial burden of school closures does not appear to be shaping these views. The net positive score for those who reported financial hardship due to the shutdown is higher for this group than those who did not report any financial hardship.

Does this mean the future of the classroom is digital?

Following school closures, parents appear to be becoming more open to the concept of digital classrooms.

Overall, there is a roughly even split between positive and negative views. 36.8% of parents said they were interested in moving classrooms online, compared to 39% who were not interested.

Main Takeaways

No.1 |
Parents and Schools Rising to The Challenge

Despite understandable concerns about the impact on education, the picture emerging here is that parents and schools are coping well in difficult times. 

Not only are attitudes to the performance of the school system positive, but the trend in attitudes towards homeschooling suggests parents are also rising to the challenge.

No.2 |
Price drives school supply purchases

As parents move to stock up home schools for their children, the two things they want are low price and easy availability.

This is undoubtedly a reflection of the biggest purchase category — stationery — but it suggests parents shopping in this category gravitate towards the products with the lowest cost, so long as they do the job.

No.3 |
The start of a big change?

This data does not suggest that there will be an overnight shift to online classrooms. But at the same time, experiences during the pandemic are leading some parents to start thinking how online learning could work in the future.

*Disclaimer: all data presented is owned by Caddle and has a Margin of Error of 1% or lower.

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