Home schooling and work appear to be a difficult combination

April 14th 2020

The fifth wave of the UAntwerp corona study enquired about experiences with home schooling

The fifth wave of the Big Corona Study shows that home schooling is difficult for many people. It’s especially difficult for employed people, because they have to combine working from home with supervising the school assignments of their primary school children. If they have other children, this is even more difficult. This becomes considerably easier to combine from the 3rd/4th grades of secondary school onwards, and parents also experience fewer difficulties with toddlers. 

As in previous weeks, Belgians were again able to participate in the University of Antwerp corona questionnaire on Tuesday. The universities of Hasselt and Leuven and the French-speaking ULB are also supporting this initiative. This time 200,000 people filled in the questionnaire completely, another 18,000 partially. In the first few weeks more people participated: between 345,000 and 560,000 participants tackled the questions per wave then. This week’s number is similar to the first week of the Easter holidays. 

‘During the Easter holidays, fewer people are sitting at their computer, and the nice weather and a certain “corona fatigue” will also have something to do with it’, Koen Pepermans (UAntwerp) believes. ‘But we like to focus on those who continue to participate, and also on the 14% of new participants who completed the corona questionnaire for the first time. We have already reached nearly one million unique participants with this citizen science project, gaining a unique insight into how people deal with these unseen times. We share this information with government advisory bodies to support policymaking.’ 

Some findings 

In terms of behavioural adjustment, we see that not shaking hands with or giving a kiss to non-household members has remained unchanged over the past week: 90% of people living alone and 95% of people living with other people. On the other hand, participants believe that people in public spaces and at work have adjusted their behaviour somewhat less. This seems to be in line with what was also reported in the media. 

Home schooling requires greater effort for parents of primary school children (and to a lesser but significant, extent for children in the first stage of secondary school) than for pre-school children. The need for support also decreases when the children are older. The biggest obstacle is one’s own work. Half of participants indicate that it is not (10%) or only sometimes (42%) feasible to support the children. The biggest obstacles for children are missing classmates and difficulty paying attention. Finally, 62% of participants indicated that they were not informed (29%) or received little information about what the impact of the extended measures would be. The most important sources of information are the school (72%) and the media (52%). 

Compared to the number of participants, only a small number of people say they have no access to the garden or patio. However, this still concerns 10,000 participants and their household members.