Mothers As New Teachers During The COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges and Opportunities

Sultan Kilinc, Sara Jo Soldovieri, Mary Elizabeth Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


COVID-19, as a global pandemic, has generated extreme disruptions and challenges worldwide in social, economic, healthcare, and educational sys-tems. To reduce the virus’s transmission, education systems moved to remote learning in the spring of 2020, with little to no time for preparation. This paper examines the educational experiences of parents of students with disabilities whose children attended PreK-6th public schools in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic using a Disability Studies in Education theoretical framework. In this qualitative phenomenological study, we interviewed 15 mothers of students with disabilities on Zoom. Using constant-comparative data analysis, we identified a theme revealing mothers’ new identities as teachers of their children with disabilities at home, which brought unique challenges and opportunities. The mothers’ challenges were related to the school’s overreliance on them in remote learning, balancing multiple responsibilities, the need to re-learn academic content and new technology, and the colli-sion of teacher and mom identities and school and home boundaries. These challenges strained mother-child relationships and negatively influenced the mothers’ mental health and well-being. However, their new identity as new teachers also generated new opportunities. Particularly, remote learning made school practices transparent, and mothers reconceptualized their children’s abilities and realized their competence for learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-199
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Special Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • COVID-19
  • parents of children with disabilities
  • remote learning
  • special education
  • students with disabilities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Rehabilitation


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