Discovery Through Play Report: Exploring Children’s Discovery Through Play Through the Generations

Parents today are spending up to four times longer with their children than parents did 30 years ago, according to the Discovery Through Play report commissioned by the company Baby Einstein and trend analysts the Future Foundation.

Four hours and 25 minutes is the average time per day parents spend with their under-three’s, with dads now providing  up to a third of child care. At least an hour of this daily time is allocated specifically to discovery activities – more than double the amount in 1975.

The study, which looks at parental involvement in play discovery and at what stimulates curiosity, combines findings from over 2,000 British parents who had experience of parenting over the last 45 years.

It shows that over three-quarters of parents agree that it is important for toddlers to discover the world around them by experiencing real life images and sounds. They help them to do this by involving them in a range of household activities such as cooking and cleaning, by reading to them, by taking them on trips, and giving them appropriate toys.

Many things around the home were found to stimulate children’s curiosity, but the top five are the telephone, the television, the garden, visitors and cupboards. Different sounds, colours, flashing lights and buttons attract the attention of toddlers.

Outside the home, a trip to the zoo, a farm, a park, beach or supermarket come high on the list of locations to stimulate a child’s curiosity.

Trips to farms have increased in popularity since 1960, while trips to the museum are less popular today. The garden remains as popular as it was 30 years ago, providing a rich source of smells and textures.

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