Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Children at aged 6: grandparents, school and weight

Virtually all children have at least one living grandparent and the majority have three for more grandparents alive, according to key findings from the annual Growing up in Scotland (GUS) report.

The Growing up in Scotland (GUS) reports look at life as a child in Scotland. This year the children are aged 6, and the report focusses on three areas: the involvement of grandparents, early experiences at primary school, and weight and physical activity.

 The 2012 findings include:

  • 99% of children have at least one living grandparent and 80% have three or more of their grandparents alive
  • A significant minority of children do not have a local grandparent at aged 3 (42%).
  • Children in the highest income households (22%) were most likely to have no grandparents living locally, as compared to children in the lowest income households (8%).
  • Local grandparents are more likely to be the maternal grandmother and grandfather.
  • Maternal grandparents tend to be closer and have more contact with grandchildren than paternal grandparents.
  • 64% parents of children whose mother were under 20 at the time of their birth stay overnight with their maternal grandparents at least once a month, compared with 12% amongst children whose mothers were 40 or over at birth (and 31% of all children).
  • Reliance on grandparents increases markedly when children started school, with 67% of parents making use of grandparents for childcare. High income households are more likely to use grandparent care during term time (43%) and during holiday time (23%) - even when grandparents are not local, as compared to low income households (24% and 11% respectively).
Early experiences at school
  • Nearly all parents felt their children had adjusted well to starting school, although some 22% felt that their child was happier with the way he or she learned things in pre-school.
  • Children who attended pre-school at a private or partnership nursery were perceived to be more ready for school than children who did not attend a nursery, and generally boys were perceived to have more problems adjusting to school than girls.
  • Virtually all parents had attended at least one parental involvement activity since their child had started school. The most common activity (86%) was visiting their child's classroom.. Just 5% had not participated in any activities or events.
  • Family type was associated with higher parental involvement. Lone parents (23%) were slightly less likely to have attended four or more events than couple families (30%), and young mothers aged 20-29 years (30%) were less likely to attend four or more events than mothers aged 40 or older (46%).
  • Most children (71%) receive homework everyday, and virtually all of these children (93%) said that they always completed it.
  • 95% of parents were involved in helping their children with their homework, but many others were involved too, particularly grandparents (29%) and siblings (21%).
Obesity and activity
  • Among GUS children, 22% were overweight (including obese) and 9% were obese.
  • 15% of these children exercised for less than the recommended level of 60 minutes a day and 31% either watched television or been on the computer/games consule for 3+ hours on a typical weekday.
  • Only 14% of mothers recognised their child as being overweight, although mother's were more likely to recognise their child was overweight if their child was a girl, the mother was overweight herself or if the child was obese.
  • Factors which increased likelihood of the child being overweight or obese were:
    • The mother being overweight or obese
    • Frequent snacking on sweets or crisps at toddler age
    • Skipping breakfast
    • Not eating the main meal in a dining area of the home
    • Low  parental supervision
More information about the study can be found at: http://www.growingupinscotland.org/.
The research findings can be downloaded from the Scottish Government website at:

Growing up in Scotland: The involvement of grandparents
Growing up in Scotland: Early Experiences of Primary School - the transition to school
Growing up in Scotland: Early Experiences of Primary School - parental involvement
Growing up in Scotland: Overweight, obesity and activity

Full reports are also available.

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