Overcoming school closure during Covid-19

Role of Families and Teachers during School Closure

The COVID-19 crisis has forced education systems worldwide to find alternatives to face-to-face instruction. As a result, teachers and students on an unprecedented scale have used online teaching and learning. Since lockdowns – either massive or localized – may be needed again in the future to respond to new waves of the infection even after the vaccine has become available, Since parents and teachers play a fundamental role in supporting students to develop these crucial attitudes, particularly in the current situation, targeted policy interventions should be designed with the aim of reducing the burden on parents and help teachers and schools make the most of digital learning.

Learning attitudes are rooted in the support that students receive from teachers and families. Analyses based on PISA 2018 shed light on the crucial role played by both teacher practices and parental emotional support as important drivers of the development of attitudes. The analyses show that students display more positive attitudes and dispositions towards learning when they benefit from more parental emotional support.

Parental emotional support matters for most attitudes and displays a strong association with students’ self-efficacy. More specifically, the forms of emotional support that are found to be most beneficial are when parents encourage their children to be confident and when they support their children’s educational efforts and achievements.

Giving an indication of the benefits brought about by parental support to students’ academic achievements, students make intensive use of ICT outside of school for schoolwork. This evidence, based on PISA 2018, shows that several forms of support can be particularly effective in enhancing student learning. For example, among high ICT users, pupils who receive very high emotional support from parents tend to perform significantly better in all subjects assessed in PISA. Parental emotional support is particularly effective: for instance, in the Slovak Republic, students who use ICT very often and who receive very high support from families score on average 23 points more than their peers with less support from families. Receiving strong emotional support from parents is similarly effective in some other countries, such as Austria and Slovenia.

It is of utmost importance for governments to reflect on the main difficulties that students, parents, teachers and school principals have encountered in adapting to this phase of massive online learning and intervene to better harness the potential of online learning. For example, they should first expand infrastructure, ensuring that nobody is excluded from online lessons, and support students and teachers to use online tools and technologies in an effective manner.

In conclusion, families and teachers play a crucial role in guiding children through the challenges of home learning: parents can provide emotional and learning support to their children, while teachers can act as mentors, encouraging active learning and motivation and checking that nobody falls behind. Such interventions can considerably contribute to making online learning more effective. Given the crucial role that families and teachers play in the context of school closures, governments can spur their effective engagement by, for example, expanding family leave opportunities and by strengthening school-parents communication.

Based on OECD September 2020 Release

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