New Survey Shows Parents’ Top Challenges with Online Learning

While Ohio may be beginning to reopen, many parents are still struggling to keep their kids focused on schoolwork while at home.

Millions of students and teachers across the state and the country have been forced to adjust to a new learning approach amid the current COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, UNESCO reported that nationwide school closures have impacted more than 90% of the world’s student population.

In an effort to check in with parents, Canvas, a learning management platform created by Instructure, commissioned a survey to learn more about how parents are handling their new roles.

In the survey, parents identified their top there challenges as:

  • Keeping children focused on schoolwork.
  • Juggling daytime responsibilities with children’s schoolwork.
  • Unclear instructions from teachers and schools.

Results from the survey conducted by Canvas offered a look into what learning at home looks like for these students and their parents.

  • Kids are learning new ways to learn.
    • The report indicates 79% of elementary students now have online learning experience, which is an increase from 56% before COVID-19.
    • These students are also learning about new ways to communicate with 64% now using videoconferencing.
  • Elementary is difficult.
    • Nearly half, at 44%, of respondents, noted that their children had no experience with online learning tools before the current health crisis. That number increases to 65% for parents of kindergartners.
    • Parents of younger children disproportionately report that they struggle to balance their work/daytime responsibilities and their child(ren)’s schooling. 51% for kindergarteners and 46% for elementary schoolers. That’s compared to 38% of all respondents.
    • Additionally, these parents report they have a difficult time keeping their children focused on schoolwork. 2% for kindergarteners and 58% for elementary schoolers.
  • Videoconference goes beyond connection and is being used for many learning activities such as:
    • Covering new materials.
    • Checking in on progress.
    • Helping with schoolwork.
    • Connecting with classmates.

With these results, Canvas has prepared a few tips to help make teaching and learning at home easier.

  • Factor in attention spans: According to child psychologists, kids can typically focus on a task for two to five minutes per year of life. (For example, 16-40 minutes for an eight-year-old). Younger kids need shorter instruction and work periods. Everyone needs breaks.
  • Reach out to teachers. Ask your child’s teacher about their preferred communication methods and office hours. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or to offer support and thanks for their work during this time.
  • Don’t forget about recess. Many aspects of life can start running together when you’re stuck at home. Still, make sure your kids get designated downtime, which hopefully includes fresh air and physical activity.
  • Remind kids this is temporary. The shift to remote learning may not make sense to little ones. But, whatever age of children you have, talk to them. Listen to what they have to say and empathize with them.
  • Reach into your tech toolbox. With many schools using Canvas, parents can take advantage of the Canvas parent app, where they can see assignments, check grades, and get alerts on student activity.

For more online learning resources visit:

About the Study
These findings are from a poll conducted between April 10-13, 2020. For this survey, a sample of 1,003 adults aged 18+ from the U.S. were interviewed online in English. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.
About Instructure:
Instructure helps people grow from the first day of school to the last day of work. More than 30 million people use the Canvas Learning Management Platform for schools and the Bridge Employee Development Platform for businesses. Learn more at

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