Tiring Timetables! UK children are now working over 54 hours a week at school and on extra-curricular activities

With discussions on media this week on proposals to lower the school age to two years old, I wonder whether we are really looking into our children’s wellbeing…. Childhood is meant to be fun and filled with lots of playtime. Playing and even silly games are important part of healthy living no matter what people say. Children also need time to chill out and relax not just learning.

Seven Seas, Nutrition Aware

A recent research by Haliborange found parents are over-timetabling their children with extra-curricular activities in addition to their school commitments. This means exhausted children are spending seven hours a week more in educational activities than the average adult does working. Shattered kids are ‘working’ for 54 hours a week.

Most children already complete 32.5 hours a week at school Monday to Friday, as well as seven hours and 28 minutes of homework each week. But on top of this, parents enrol kids into at least two activities a week, such as swimming, football, dance classes or music lessons, in an effort to help them find something in which they shine.

This adds a further two hours and 26 minutes to an already gruelling timetable of events.

In addition, most parents say they actively read with their children for at least 43 minutes a day – or five hours and one minute a week.

And finally, to make absolutely sure their child has the very best chance of getting ahead, the average parents also spends one hour a day, or seven hours a week, teaching their children through play.

Family running in park

Dr Claire Halsey, parenting expert and clinical psychologist commented on the study: “This study indicates just how much parents want to do the best for their children.

“Parenthood is filled with decisions and responsibilities, and sometimes it can be hard to get it right all the time.

“It might look like many mums and dads are over-timetabling their little ones, but behind this decision is the desire to support children to achieve their very best in life.

blog sunset sunflowers peace

“All any parent wants is for their child to be happy and reach their full potential. While it’s great for kids to have hobbies and explore new activities, the best thing for their mental and physical development is to spend time playing and having fun, letting them shine naturally.”

The study suggests that more parents than ever before are open to educating their children away from school with extra-tuition.

Indeed, one in three people polled admitted their child also attends at least one class a week in either English, Maths or Science.

Which means a third of the nation’s children are actually working for over 54 hours a week.

The study also shows a quarter of parents are worried their children are not getting the adequate nutrition they need because they are so busy.

On at least three nights a week families don’t sit down together to eat. Four in 10 parents are supporting their child’s diet with vitamins to boost their health and 58% of these parents said giving their child vitamins helped provide peace of mind.

Nutritionist Dr Frankie Phillips comments: “It can be hard to fit in three nutritious meals a day when the children are being ferried between school, clubs and extra tutoring. But time to eat together as a family is very important. We know from research studies that families who eat together regularly tend to be better off nutritionally speaking; they eat a healthier diet.

blog family on beach

“Children need good nutrition to grow and develop, and providing adequate nutrients, vitamins and minerals is an essential part of this, both immediately to get through the busy school day, and long-term for their future well-being.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as well as dehydration, can lead to fatigue and poor health; tiredness resulting from poor nutrition can compromise concentration and consequently performance in school.

“Children are leading increasingly hectic lives, but it’s important that their diets don’t suffer. Parents can boost low nutritional levels with great tasting vitamins. Omega-3 may help support concentration and the right amount of iron can combat fatigue whilst B vitamins are important to help release energy.”

The poll reveals that four out of five parents feel it is right to try and educate their children as much as possible when they are not in the school environment.

And it seems some parents are competitive too, with 41 per cent admitting they have always been concerned about their child’s development, worrying whether they know as much as other children in their age group.

At least half of parents have spent hours and hours trying to teach their children how to recite their alphabet, numbers, days of the week, cities and months of the year.

Enjoying the sun

Catching a ball, swimming, learning how to dress and undress, understanding about healthy eating and being able to cook a little, and knowing about the solar system are amongst things parents think children should know by the time they go to school.

However, 28 per cent of those polled admit they worry their child does too much, and 43 per cent have considered that their child should spend more time having fun.

But 27 per cent of parents have at some point taken their child out of classes such as music, dance or languages, with 54 per cent of these claiming their child look exhausted from all the activities they were doing.

A further 45 per cent were worried about the cost of the additional clubs their children were participating in, while a fifth said they weren’t spending enough time together as a family.


Attends school – 32 hours and 30 minutes a week

Homework – 7 hours and 28 minutes a week

Two classes – 2 hours and 26 minutes a week

Active read to / with – 5 hours and 1 minute a week

Being taught through play – 7 hours a week


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