A new report claims children are 'working' longer hours than their parents.
The Center Parcs report, issued together with child psychologist Dr Sam Wass, suggests school and scheduled activities are taking up 46 hours a week of children's time - 9 hours more than the national average adult's working week.
The findings are based on a OnePoll survey of 2,000 UK adults and 1,000 primary school aged children, in December 2016.
As a result of the report, Dr Wass has created a suggested 'RDA' for down-time for children - recommending that children have a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Free Time of three hours and 51 minutes each day.
Dr Wass said: “Many parents are desperate to do the right thing for their children - we shuttle them back and forth from school, to football, to an after-school club, and then get them home and sit and ensure they do their homework.
“But in fact, research suggests that it’s much more beneficial for children if their time is not always so structured. It’s the down-time, when there is not so much going on and the child has to entertain themselves, when they do their best learning. There is a huge amount of research that suggests that this child-led, unstructured free play is vital for stimulating imagination and creativity, as well as helping the child to become more self-sufficient.”
Between school, homework, rehersing, activity clubs, housework, and reading, there seems to be little time left for playing. Are our children at risk of burnout, however? The survey suggested that one in five children (19%) have asked their parents not to go to a class because they are too tired to attend.
Dr Wass continued: “The figures might initially look high, causing you to think ‘this is too much to ask!’ but this recommended daily allowance is designed as a goal for parents and children to work to.
“We want to encourage parents to use this as an opportunity to assess their child’s scheduled time and supplement some of the extra-curricular clubs for some of these suggestions. It’s understandable that some days are busier than others and it just might not be possible to hit a perfect balance every day, but the key is for parents to try to encourage their children to do a variety of the free time suggestions, whenever they can free up time.
“Research suggests that children’s free playtime has dropped by an estimated 25% over the past 20 years.
“The RDA for Free Time is similar to that for fruit and vegetables: it’s best if you don’t reach your target by eating 5 apples - variety is ideal. The same is true for free time - mixing up the types of activity is key for development. You also can’t just do all of the hours over the weekend – the key is to spread the activity out over the week and have a good amount of quality free time each day.”
How much down time do your children have each day, and how many hours do they 'work'? Let us know in the comments box below or post on Facebook.