Dad helping his son with difficult homework assignment in kitchen

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NEW YORK — How many of your childhood math or science lessons do you remember today? If the answer is barely any, you aren’t alone. A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. parents finds the average parent these days has the math and science skills of an 11-year-old.

Respondents were asked what grade they would be placed in today if they had to take a placement test, and the average answer was sixth grade for both math and science.

It’s unrealistic to expect anyone to remember everything they were taught in school as a child, of course. Yet the extent to which many American adults feel clueless when it comes to academics is shocking. In all, 42% say they would be “lost” trying to teach their child mathematics. Another 35% express the same sentiment regarding scientific topics.

Parents put to the test

This research, commissioned by Mongoose, feels especially timely considering how millions of parents suddenly find themselves taking on a more active teaching role with their kids home from school due to the pandemic. Time to dust off the old multiplication tables.

When asked how they performed academically as a child, 55% remembered struggling with math and close to 40% said the same for science topics. On that note, it seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Math (49%) and science (31%) are among the top subjects listed by parents when asked what topics their kids struggle with today.

Over half (58%) of respondents say they’ve been asked by their child for help with a math or science problem. Junior may clearly be better off looking elsewhere for a tutor. For instance, just under 40% of parents can’t say what STEM stands for (science, technology, engineering, math).

How about the formula for calculating speed? Despite that lesson being a standard sixth grade level topic, a full 20% of parents can’t recall that formula. (In case you forgot, it’s distance divided by time). Similarly, only 36% believe they are capable of calculating the circumference and diameter of a circle diagram. Also, less than a third can name a correct example of “potential energy” (a stretched rubber band being one answer).

Remote learning not so helpful when kids are struggling

Most parents (72%) worry that the switch over to remote learning this year may end up hurting their child’s developing math and science skills. Among that group, 62% feel remote learning just doesn’t provide enough “hands on” academic experiences. Another 64% agree that science and math lessons often require one-on-one instruction between student and teacher. That’s something that is exponentially harder to attain through a computer screen.

Overall, 80% of U.S. parents are in agreement that hands-on learning and experiments are essential ingredients when it comes to fully understanding math and science topics. Also, 76% believe their child personally benefits from hands-on learning experiences across all school subjects.

Of course, it’s never too late to get back to learning (or re-learning). Many parents (72%) say they plan on learning math and science right alongside their kids this school year.

About John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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