Homework before play for Irish mothers

IRISH parents think homework is more important than play in their child’s development, a survey reveals.

It found that 43% of Irish mothers, compared with 23% of mums globally, attach a huge importance to academic achievement. They rank attending school and homework as the top activity to aid healthy child development.

A mere 39% of Irish mums, compared with 51% globally, believe playing outside is more important. The survey, carried out by Persil in association with the Irish Preschool Play Association, also found that Irish mothers worried their kids did not have enough time to play.

Nine out of 10 believe children in Ireland are growing up too quickly.

Eight out of 10 believe that, without time to play, it is not surprising that children are overweight and that the importance of learning through play has been forgotten.

Safety, however, is a top concern and prevents children from taking part in activities where they can learn through unstructured experiences.

Mums said the need to supervise activities was a huge barrier preventing their child from playing.

Half of Irish mothers are worried that TV and video games form too big a part of their child’s life, while almost all (93%) believe that letting their child get dirty and exposed to germs can actually be good for their health, compared with 58% globally.

Irish mums also wish for more time with their children and more time for their children to behave like children.

Chief executive of the association Irene Gunning said being a parent today was tough and play was under threat because of safety concerns and time constraints.

“We need to take stock of what this research is telling us and to remind ourselves that what may seem like pure and simple fun is actually helping children to develop key life skills,” she said.

“The real challenge out of this research is to find practical ways to create more play time for and indeed with out children.”

On the plus side, it is very common for young people here to be involved in sport, with almost 50% of mums saying that their child is taking part in organised sports.

The study will be debated at the association’s conference: Bubble-wrapped Children — Are We Overprotecting Our Children in Dublin on April 26.

* www.ippa.ie

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