• Dennis McKesey

Why distance learning looks different for students of low Middle income Families



COVID-19, a strand of the coronavirus has had many consequences for many countries across the globe, with many individuals left to self-isolate, under quarantine, without jobs, and in some cases with little to no income whatsoever.

However, low-middle income families appear to be affected the most. But why is this the case?

One particularly drastic impact of the virus was the closing of schools, leaving children to learn from home in unfamiliar learning environments, little to no motivation, and in some cases no guidance or support.

This is especially taxing on families, with parents left to home-school their children while, in some cases, still working full-time from home themselves or in vulnerable roles such as delivery drivers, nurses/doctors, and support workers/carers.

We will now further break down this time distance learning and the many challenges this in itself poses.

1. Balancing full-time work with home-schooling

One of the main challenges for low to income families during the virus, as previously discussed, is balancing full-time work with home-schooling their children.

Low-middle income families tend to work these lower-income and more vulnerable jobs, in some cases, unable to take time off as they are either required to work or will lose their lively-hood doing so, unable to put food on the table for their family.

This leaves them in a very difficult situation, often with little to no time and/or energy to help their children.

Likewise, low-middle income families tend to have less of an educational background. Being handed the reigns of now teaching their children can pose as a difficult situation in itself, with many parents unable to help, even if they did find the time.

2. Social distanced learning 

A clear obstacle for many is the aspect of social distanced learning. Many classes are now held online, or at least these resources provided with online access.

Whilst the education system including schools are still providing resources to encourage independent learning, the lack of support will no doubt still affect these students.

Working from home is much different from working in a school environment, for many reasons.

These include:

  • Access to help from professionals in their field

  • No longer in a proper learning environment

  • Access to free school meals (for some)

This brings us onto our next point; free school meals for some children.

3. A lack of free school meals for some children 

Many children across the United States and other countries rely on school to provide free school meals for their children.

This is especially true with low to middle-income families, now leaving these parents and children in a very difficult place financially.

This, in turn, can also have an impact on the home environment, resulting in this becoming a hostile and uncomfortable place to both live and now learn.

4. Access to technology and the internet

Research has shown that students with internet access do significantly better on standardized math, science

and reading tests. This has resulted in a digital divide between those that have access to these recourses and those that don’t.

The digital divide doesn't just mean having access to wifi, but the ability to pay for it. Communities who live on a low income or social security benefits are unable to pay for this access.

Distance learning will all most certainly amplify this divide. As low-income students are far less likely to have internet access or a computing device, this presents a key obstacle to academic success and economic opportunity.

The bottom line  

There was life before COVID-19 and there will most certainly be life after the virus.

However, in the meantime, we must adapt to these challenges and do our best to face this head-on.

Learning from home may become the new normal, at least for some time – parents are now required to take the role of teachers and students forced to adapt to working in a home environment, often resulting in a variety of distractions.

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