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02/15/2010 19:17:55

Working mums fail to help with homework

Mothers who stay at home spend four times longer helping children, study finds

By Lewis Smith and Kay Smith

Monday, 15 February 2010

Mothers who work full-time spend just three minutes a day alone with their sons helping them with homework, researchers have found.

Thefigureis less than a quarter of the timedevotedto children's homework by mothers who work part-time or who stay at home. Theirabsencepromptschildren to spend more time watching television, according to the study, published in the British Journal of Sociology.

Fathers, who manage only three minutes on average each day, increase by a minute a day the amount of time they help with homework when their partner works full-time. But that is insufficient tocompensatefor the loss of attention caused by the mother going out to work.

Daughtersfareslightly better than sons in households where both parents work, getting seven minutes of concentrated attention from their mothers, but that still falls far short of the average of 14 minutes that each child gets in a traditional one-income household.

It was found that a child aged between 8 and 13 would on average spend 40 minutes a day on "achievement-related" activities, including homework reading, artistic and creative activities. By contrast, they would spend 136 minutes watching television. For the rest of the time spent neither sleeping nor at school, 47 minutes were devoted to householdchores, 174 minutes to leisure activities such as sport or cinema, 112 to meals, hygiene and dressing, and 72 minutes to travelling.

Children in this age group spend a further 15 minutes each day working on homework or other educational activities in the presence of both parents. But it is the time spent with just one that is considered the most valuable because they are more likely to be getting help and attention.

Dr Killian Mullan, of the University of New South Wales, concluded that having a mother working full-time reduces the help a child gets at home. He said: "Overall, children are getting less intensive one-to-one engagement with a parent onattainment-related activities when their mother works full-time because the father is just not making up the difference of the time lost." Children of full-time working mothers, he found, will spend an extra 27 minutes a day watching television compared with those from a household where just the father works. "Young people with mothers employed full-time spend significantly more time watching TV than those whose mothers are not employed," Dr Mullan added. "Maternalemployment shapes or gives a particular structure to a young person's day that is significantly distinct from young people whose mothers do not work, and there are clear differences between mothers in full-time and mothers in part-time employment." 

Adrienne Burgess, of the Fatherhood Institute, said it was important that teachers and other professionals should encourage more fathers to get involved with their children's education and better understand what is needed. "Then they may be more willing to play their part in doing homework with the children," she said.

Commenting on the report, Professor Iram Siraj-Blatchford, of the University of London's Institute of Education, said: "Too much rests on the shoulder of mothers. Fathers should take more interest." 

The studyassessedthe use of time by 1,269 eight to 13-year olds and 835 14 to 18-year-olds in the United Kingdom. Having both or just one parent working made little difference to the time mothers and fathers spent helping with homework among young people in the 14 to 18 age group, the researchers found.

For the whole article visit:

 " http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/working-mums-fail-to-help-with-homework-1899540.html

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