Researchers from the Universities Nova de Lisboa, Granada (Spain), Lille (France) and the Spanish Institute of Health Carlos III analysed the routines and interaction of students between 3 and 16 years old and their families during the first lockdown caused by the pandemic, that started in these three countries almost a year ago.

Through an online survey in which almost 3,900 households from the three countries participated, the ‘Covideducasa’ project, which is still ongoing, seeks to understand the impact of confinement and non-classroom teaching on Portuguese, Spanish and French families, the majority of whom were deemed as being middle class.

The researcher at the Faculty of Political Science and Sociology at the University of Granada María Dolores Martín-Lagos told the Spanish agency Efe that the study looked at families’ attention to their children, the weight of their children’s schoolwork, access to technology and family guidance, with coincidences and differences between countries.

Among the study’s conclusions, Martín-Lagos pointed out that mothers play a more important role in tasks, even in homes where both parents worked or were in remote work during lockdown.

The majority of parents recognised the correct planning of activities by the school, although more than 64 percent of respondents acknowledged having experienced moments of stress when it came to helping with school work.

In these cases, 46.7 percent of the parents pointed out the lack of time to help their children while 20 percent admitted to a lack of patience and some families indicated that they did not have the necessary knowledge to teach their children.
During the last quarter of the last academic year, without face-to-face classes in the three countries, almost three out of 10 parents considered their children to be calm and organised, a slightly higher percentage in Portugal (31 percent) and France (28 percent) than in Spain (21 percent).

The parents also stressed, “in a general way, the concern with the excessive use of technology, considered one of the main problems by parents, especially in homes that did not have very strict rules of hours”.

According to the study, 44 percent of parents believe that their children use their mobile phones a lot and 76 percent of respondents in the three countries also refer to many hours of video games, which also increased during lockdown.

On the other hand, the work corroborated the decrease in extracurricular activities after confinement, mainly sports, which fell by almost half, and the worsening of eating habits, which caused four out of 10 children to gain weight.

The study also reveals that the routine also worsened with confinement in half of the houses (51 percent) and affected the emotional well-being of the students, with 20 percent of Spanish parents and 15 percent of French parents revealing that they saw their children sadder. In Portugal, this negative emotional evolution was noticed in almost 33 percent of cases.