Moms pull double duty as they work from home and supervise schooling


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Members of the Luce family show off their online learning environment. Having to balance supervising the education of kids with a full time job has made life much more challenging for many working-from-home mothers.

When parents think about their children’s education, online learning isn’t usually something they thought they had to do. However, Covid-19 has affected how school works.
While these changes have definitely had an impact on both mothers and fathers, recent data suggests that moms are taking on more of the responsibility for children’s online learning.
Over the summer, the hope was that students would be able to go back to school after it closed early due to Covid- 19. Some parents were worried about sending students to school because the virus is still spreading, so a hybrid school plan was made to optimize safety.
This gave parents the option to send students to school half of the week and work from home the other half, or do all school online.
“I was pleased with the decision to do hybrid learning; it sounded like the best of both worlds,” said Heather Luce, a mother of 3 children who attend Carlisle Elementary. “The kids get the benefits of in-person instruction with smaller classroom sizes and social distancing.”
Before Covid, schools were a place for children to go five days a week. Now parents are required to have a place for them to do online learning, which is predominantly affecting working mothers.
“When [my kids] learn from home, it’s absolute chaos, trying to navigate them through their Chromebooks, making sure they have all their work done; it’s a lot in my everyday life,” said Leilani Martiniue, a mother of 4 in Delaware City Schools.
Hybrid learning took a while for students and their moms to get used to; on the days students have online learning, motivation frequently lacks compared to being in an actual classroom. “If I could stay with my kids, I think everything would be fine,” said Sabrina Brammer, a mother of 3 children involved with hybrid learning. “But since I work a full-time job, it’s super frustrating.”
Hybrid learning is the only option to have in-school learning for Delaware students. Many mothers have had to change their schedules around because of the constant change of online versus in school learning days.
“We’re lucky enough to have one parent working from home full-time and one parent at home one day during the week,” Luce said. “Other than that, we haven’t had to change our schedule much.”
Finding the best schedule for mothers is critical, especially mothers who can’t work from home or can’t help their children with school any time they need it.
“I have no daycare, plus my children aren’t old enough to be unsupervised for more than two minutes,” Brammer said. “I could send them to daycare if I wanted to pay a million dollars, or I can send them to grandma’s that’s free. It’s hard to figure out the best option for them.”
Online-learning days can also be tricky for parents with older children, who have to guide themselves through new and sometimes advanced content. The help students might need now relies on the mother, who might not be prepared to teach their child.
“With my oldest, I make sure that she knows that if she needs help, she can ask me. Sometimes I’ll hop in, look over her shoulder if I think she might be struggling, but she’s getting to the point where I can’t help her,” Martineau said.
For parents choosing whether to send their students to school via the hybrid model or all online, childcare definitely played a role. Some mothers couldn’t do it all online for their kids during the week. Going to school some days out of the week gave them some relief.
“I think it was the best decision for my children to get to go back to school for some of the time because they needed structure and schedules, which is something I struggle at giving them,” Brammer said.
Hybrid learning leaves mothers with a lot of time for their children during the week. They have an idea of what school looks like for their child, which many of them hadn’t been getting years before.
“I love the extra time with the kids during the week and the freedom that the hybrid learning offers,” Luce said. “I also feel more involved in the school work.”
Hybrid learning has its challenges for mothers: while they get to see their child more than they would normally, they sometimes have to become a teacher at home. Thank you, mothers, for all the hard work and dedication you are continuing to put in for the best option for your child’s education.