The COVID-19 pandemic was a life-changing, mindset-shifting experience for many. People overall, but especially busy parents, were able to slow down and reflect. They suddenly had time to assess, plan and explore. This led to a new focus on personal growth and improvement, and when paired with a sudden crash course in virtual learning and a deeper look into their children’s education, it changed perspectives on — and raised expectations for — schools and educators.
Here are some of the things we’ve learned through our research with parents.
Parents believe the quality of education provided to children in the public school system is drastically decreasing.
Children are believed to be “slipping through the cracks” or “pushed through” and are not getting the education and services they need and deserve. Parents say staffing shortages, narrow focus on testing, lack of and misuse of funding, and misplaced priorities are all to blame. School environments are also believed to have become increasingly negative, which inhibits learning and is taking a physical and emotional toll on children. All of this, paired with a perceived lack of transparency and communication between schools and parents, has left parents feeling uninformed, uninvolved and dissatisfied with their child’s education.
These perspectives have informed new expectations for what parents identify as a superior educational experience.
- Our new hybrid ways of life have parents seeking more flexibility and freedom, and they want the ability to adapt school around their lives rather than their lives around school. This allows for more family time, trips, and participation in sports and activities, creating a more relaxed and enjoyable lifestyle.
- Parents desire a more individualized education for their children, giving them the ability to create their own learning paths and work at their own pace. This not only allows students to follow their interests and strengths but also provides education that meets the student where they are, providing additional support or increased challenge when needed.
- They want a school that recognizes and provides dedicated services and accommodations for any special needs students may have.
- Parents want to have a voice in their children’s education. While parents do not want to bear the burden of being the educator, schools that have great communication, work transparently and allow parents to have a say will create a positive, two-way partnership with families.
- To prepare their children for success in the real world, parents want a school that offers a wide variety of classes, programs and enrichment opportunities, providing exposure to a greater breadth of topics and experiences. Additionally, they want more focus on teaching critical life skills. They want programs that promote independence, accountability and time management — skills critical to success in post-graduation life.
- Parents say that education needs to be overhauled to bring out the best in teachers, providing them with the resources, support and time needed to be effective. Current environments are high stress and low appreciation, leading to unhappy, unengaged educators, which impacts students’ growth and performance.
There’s no doubt that the traditional K-12 education system as we know it will need to evolve to meet these new expectations. Yet this means that there are great growth opportunities for other education-based services and solutions like nontraditional schools, educational supports, and enrichment platforms and programs to rise to meet these unmet needs in the marketplace.