Research into home schooling during the Covid-19 pandemic has identified a number of issues, experienced by both children and parents earlier this year. 

Many students felt they learned less, were more anxious and had lower levels of motivation while studying at home. 

The study also shows that engagement with education declined in the weeks after schools closed in mid- March. 

The research, by the School of Education at NUI Galway, was conducted over a two-month period in the summer. It gathered responses from more than 2,500 parents and over 1,000 primary and second level students.

Concerns about access to technology required for learning, and the impact of not seeing friends, were also identified.

From a parental perspective, the difficulty of juggling work and education responsibilities was highlighted as a major issue. The problem was particularly acute for families with a number of children. 

However, a small number of parents felt their children had benefited by having individual supports and were able to learn new or different things at home. 

The need for children to return to school full-time was a prominent theme in parental responses, with academic, social and mental health concerns cited. In general, students themselves were also positive about returning to school.

The researchers say the Department of Education would need to provide more consistency and direction, if home schooling was to resume at some point in the future.

The report provides interesting data when it comes to the average length of time spent on schooling at home each day. Primary school children averaged 2.2 hours a day, with secondary students clocking in for 3.6 hours. 

Younger children reported enjoyment of extra-curricular activities and spending extra time with their families. For second-level students, the freedom to sleep in later and being able to follow their own schedule, were high on the list of benefits.

Over 40% of parents who had children in Irish language schools said their command of Irish impacted the supports they could provide at home.

The report's authors say ideally, schools should remain open full time, to protect the academic progress and mental health of students, as well as the general wellbeing of parents.

They also point to a need for further research into the experiences of minority ethnic and lower socio-economic groups.