• Mothers’ and fathers’ views on the importance of play for their children’s development: gender differences, academic activities, and the parental role

      Waters, Gillian M.; Tidswell, Georgina R.; Bryant, Eleanor J. (Wiley, 2022-05)
      Background: Play is a main driver of children’s cognitive and social development and is crucial for educational success (Ginsburg, 2007). In recent years however, parents and schools are under pressure to prioritise academic targets over play. Aims: The current research investigated parents’ views about three aspects of their children’s play and academic activities. Sample: Predominantly highly educated UK parents (109 mothers and 49fathers) were recruited via social media. Method: Participants were asked to complete an amended online version of the Preschool Play and Learning Questionnaire (Parmar, Harkness, & Super, 2004). The questionnaire consisted of 25 items covering three themes: the importance of play for children’s development, the importance of academic activities, and the importance of parents’ role in their children’s development. The independent variables were the gender of the parent, the gender of their child, and the age group of their child (4 to 7 years, or 8 to 11 years). Results: Parents rated play higher than academic activities or their own roles, but the difference was not noteworthy. However, fathers rated academic activities and the parents’ role significantly higher than mothers did. In addition, parents of girls rated academic activities and their own role, significantly higher than parents of boys. Conclusions: The findings of the current research highlight gender divisions between parents and towards boys and girls regarding the importance of education. Gender roles appear to influence the way parents think about the academic activities their children partake in.