Parents as Emergency Teachers? The Research Offers Cautions and Opportunities for Schools

Education Week

By Heather C. Hill & Susanna Loeb

With the COVID-19 school closures, districts and schools are relying on parents to carry out educational activities in their homes. How can districts help parents make the most of this learning time? And are there alternatives to parents as surrogate teachers?

In this series, we have been drawing on high-quality research to answer real-world questions. This is a new world, though, so existing research does not speak directly to the question of parents as educators of school-age children. Still, work both on tutoring and on programs to support parenting can shed light on useful approaches.

Most of us would prefer that students have the attentions of certified teachers in a school. Research shows that even tutoring is more effective done by certified teachers than by others. But most students now have very limited or no access in person to such teachers. Fortunately, studies of volunteer tutoring programs show that with the right resources, individuals without teaching certification can be effective in improving student performance.


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