There is no denying that lockdown has caused huge changes to our lives since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Working from home, queuing for supermarkets, not seeing friends and family, limited time outdoors - we have all had to adjust to this new style of living in one way or another. However, we’re sure most parents would agree there has been one particularly notable change - homeschooling.
Ever since schools announced closures, parents all over the UK have been forced to brush up on their school smarts and help tutor their kids. But how much do adults really remember from their own days at school?
We surveyed 1,000 UK parents of children aged 4-18 to find out the topics they’ve enjoyed, struggled with, and relearnt, as well as questions around their approach to homeschooling. When asked which resources they have turned to the most to help with homeschooling, over half of respondents (52%) cited Google or other search engines as their most-used resource.
So, we delved into Google search data and analysed a whopping 2,496 search terms that parents across the UK have been entering into their browsers to help them teach at home. We crunched the numbers and analysed the top 20 most-searched-for questions about maths, English, science, geography and history. The analysis includes which city has been searching for those terms the most, as well as the increase in searches compared to April 2019.
From pyramids to pronouns, from fractions to Fair Trade, from enzymes to electricity - these are the questions parents have been searching for most while homeschooling.
In our survey, maths was found to be the subject parents enjoyed helping their children with most while homeschooling, with almost half (49%) of respondents saying they enjoy teaching this subject above all others. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, maths was also the subject parents have found most difficult to teach their children (32%), with parents in Manchester searching for help with maths the most.
When asked which element of maths they had rediscovered since their time at school, almost a quarter (23%) of survey respondents reported relearning fractions and decimals, 17% reported relearning algebra, and 13% reported working with angles. It’s not surprising to see fractions were the topic most parents reported relearning in maths, as fractions appeared 4 times in the top 20 most-searched terms - from ‘How to add fractions’ and ‘How to divide fractions’ at 12,100 and 9,900 searches a month respectively, to ‘How to convert fraction to decimal’ and ‘How to multiply fractions’ both sitting at 8,100 searches.
In terms of the most-searched for maths question, from Google search data we can see that the most searched-for by far is ‘How to work out percentages’ with almost 50,000 searches a month, suggesting this is also something many adults have long forgotten since their school days. ‘What is the mean in maths’ arrives in at second place with a huge 40,500 searches a month, and in joint-third place is ‘What are prime numbers’ and ‘What is a factor in maths’ at 33,100 searches a month each.
However, as far as which term has had the biggest spike in searches from April 2019, ‘What is a factor in maths’ has seen a colossal increase of 2,485% - suggesting this is also something many of us have been brushing up on.
English was the second most-cited option in our survey for the subject parents have enjoyed helping their children with most, with 43% of our respondents selecting this. What’s more, when respondents were asked what they have relearnt since their own school days, the most-cited option was relearning what verbs, nouns, pronouns and adjectives are. With a quarter of respondents saying this, it’s hardly surprising to see that searches for verbs, nouns and adjectives have seen over a 300% increase compared to April 2019.
Indeed, ‘What is a verb’ is by far the frontrunner for the most-searched English terms, sitting at a whopping 40,500 searches a month. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is followed by ‘What is a noun’ in second place with 33,100 searches a month and in joint-third place are ‘What is an adjective’ and ‘What is an adverb’ both with 27,100 searches month. It seems language-related terms are what parents are needing help with most when it comes to teaching English, with other terms in the list including ‘When to use a semicolon’ (22,200 searches) and ‘What is a subordinate clause’ (8,100 searches).
It’s not all prepositions and pronouns, though - just under a quarter of survey respondents (24%) have re-learnt or learnt new nursery rhymes, suggesting this is also something a lot of us forget over the years. Across all subjects, two of the top five most-cited topics that parents have relearnt are associated to English, so it’s not surprising that it was voted the second most difficult subject to teach, with 17% of respondents saying this. For this particular subject, Belfast was found to be searching the most for English-related terms according to Google search data.
Science comes in at fourth place for the subject parents have enjoyed helping their child with the most, with over a quarter of respondents saying this (26%). Interestingly, science was also cited as the third most challenging subject to teach while homeschooling (15%), with Newcastle searching for these terms the most.
The top 20 most-searched terms within science in general perhaps vary the most of all. Biology-based questions take the lead with the most searches per month, for example with ‘What is a normal heart rate’ coming into first place with 40,500 searches a month, followed by ‘How many bones in the human body’ and ‘Where is your kidney’ in joint-second place with 18,100 searches each. Interestingly, ‘How many bones in the human body’ has seen a gigantic 914% increase in searches compared to April last year.
Physics terms have also seen a huge peak in searches, with questions such as ‘How many planets are there’ seeing an astronomical rise of 335% since April 2019 and now sitting at 9,900 searches a month.
Chemistry has also been a key topic parents have rediscovered, with 17% of survey respondents citing the Periodic Table as something they have relearnt since their own time at school - making this the joint-fourth most-relearnt topic alongside algebra and key events of WW1 and WW2. Unsurprisingly, this is reflected in the Google search data with searches such as ‘What are elements’ attracting 9,900 searches a month.
From the Berlin Wall to the Black Death, parents all over the UK have been rediscovering key historical events and figures from their own school days. And apparently, they’ve been enjoying it, too - 27% of our survey respondents chose history as the subject they have enjoyed teaching their children the most, making it the third most-enjoyed subject overall while homeschooling.
History was also cited as the joint-fifth most-challenging subject to teach alongside I.T., with 7% of respondents saying this. When it came to which topics parents have rediscovered, 17% of respondents cited having relearnt WW1 or WW2 key events, so it’s understandable that terms such as ‘When did Winston Churchill die’ and ‘What was the Holocaust’ have seen such an increase in searches, rising by 409% and 152% respectively.
When it comes to the most-searched history-related terms, ‘Where is Stonehenge’ sits in firm first place with 8,100 searches a month, followed by ‘Who discovered America’ and 'Who discovered penicillin’ in joint-second place with 5,400 searches a month each. Interestingly, there is a five-way tie for the third most-searched term, including the terms ‘What is the Magna Carta’, ‘What was the Holocaust’, ‘When did the Berlin Wall fall’, ‘When was America discovered’ and finally ‘Why was the Berlin Wall built’ all sitting at 4,400 searches. In terms of where has been searching for these questions the most, Bristol takes the crown for history.
Geography came in as the 7th most-enjoyed subject for parents to teach their children while homeschooling (21%). When asked what, if anything, respondents had relearnt within geography, 14% reported relearning capital cities, 11% said volcanoes and mountains, and 10% said they relearnt the different continents. When it comes to cities, however, it seems Leeds is the most in need of help with geography as they were found to be searching the most for these terms.
Indeed, searches around countries and continents dominated the most-searched geography terms, with ‘What countries are in Asia’ and ‘What is the population of the UK’ in joint-first place with 22,200 searches a month, followed by 'How many countries in Africa’ in third place with 18,100 searches. This theme continues further down the table, with joint-fourth place tying ‘How many countries in Europe’ and ‘What countries are in the Middle East’ with 14,800 searches each.
In fact, with searches for ‘What is a continent’ having risen 274% since April last year, and searches around which continents certain countries are in also having risen considerably; it looks like many of us could do with brushing up on our world geography!
So, there you have it - the biggest gaps in parents’ knowledge revealed. With these re-learnings, it’s perhaps no surprise that over a fifth of survey respondents (23%) said the biggest realisation they’ve taken away from their homeschooling experience is how easily adults can forget things they were taught in school. What’s more, over a quarter (28%) said that they will appreciate and respect teachers more once their children go back to school.
With primary schools going back to school soon, we’re sure some parents will be glad to hear the end of homeschooling is on the horizon, and Clarks is here to help you with all the back to school supplies you’ll need. Our girls’ school shoes and boys’ school shoes are weatherproof, durable, comfortable and stylish - meaning they’ve been specifically designed to withstand work, rest and play. Whether you’re after leather school shoes, riptape, ballet pumps or school trainers, you’ll find them in our collection. Looking for kids’ school bags instead? You’ll find everything from school bags and dap bags for PE to patterned rucksacks in our range.
Our survey data came from research conducted by Censuswide, with a sample of 1,014 parents of school children aged 4-18 in the UK.
In order to find the most-searched-for terms, we analysed the national curriculum for maths, English, science, history and geography from KS1 right through to A Level, and made a note of all topics and sub-topics that appeared throughout the curriculum.
We then used Ahrefs Keyword Explorer to find the questions people were asking around all the topics we noted from the curriculum.
We then plugged all the questions into Keyword Planner and selected the top 20 highest search volume terms for each subject. We compared the search volume in April 2020 to April 2019 to find the proportion of searches compared to last year.
Once we had determined the top 20 most searched terms in the UK for each subject, we then pulled the individual search volumes for those 20 terms across the 18 biggest cities in the UK. We divided these numbers by the population of those cities in order to find who was searching for those terms the most per capita, which gave us our regional rankings.
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