School-age adopted children's early responses to remote schooling during COVID-19

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Objective: This mixed-methods exploratory study sought to address the experiences of 89 adoptive parents (heterosexual, lesbian, and gay) in the United States with school-age children in relation to the transition to remote schooling and their children's mental health during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic. Background: The transition to remote schooling and associated confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges for families, particularly when children are struggling with mental health and learning challenges. Methods: Data were collected via an online survey between May and June 2020. Before the pandemic, almost half of the children received special education services. Results: Findings revealed that although a minority of children were doing well with remote schooling, the majority were struggling due to lack of motivation and an inability to work independently. Some parents voiced challenges with teacher communication and inconsistencies across classes and were overwhelmed by the demands of their new role as proctor/teacher. Some were dissatisfied with how children's school services had been implemented and noted difficulties with the online format of various services (e.g., therapy was less engaging). Regarding children's mental health, half of parents said it had stayed the same, one third said it had worsened, and the remainder said it had improved. The mental health of children adopted via foster care seemed to have benefited from the additional time spent at home. Yet most children were described as struggling in part due to social isolation and loss of routine, which manifested in a variety of ways, including anxiety, schoolwork avoidance, and boundary testing. Most parents tried to show patience, tolerance, and reassurance, but more than one third reported stress and frustration associated with not knowing how to best support their children. Conclusion: The transition to remote schooling during COVID-19 may be especially challenging for adoptive families and other families whose children have higher levels of need. Implications: Findings have implications for parents, teachers, school social workers and psychologists, and other professionals who work with children and families.

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Family Relations

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school-age children, COVID‐ 19, pandemic, quarantine, education, mental health, remote education, remote learning, transition, adoption, early responses, experiences, educational experiences, mental health experiences, adoptive parents, online learning, special education services, online therapy, challenges, support, perceptions, stay-at-home measures, adoption type, foster care, private, domestic, international, management, children's difficulties, stress, well being, United States