Childhood poverty worse in school holidays

June 8, 2018, University of Glasgow

The summer holidays are supposed to be a happy and carefree time for school children but the reality is they are often stressful for children from low income families.

A new paper, "The Cost of School Holidays for Children from Low Income Families," published in the journal Childhood by researchers at the University of Glasgow, highlights the poor provision of appropriate childcare, limited access to enrichment activities and , and the impact this can have on children's health and wellbeing and on their learning.

"The long summer holidays can offer children the chance to have new experiences, opportunities to play, relax, create memories and develop essential social skills," said Nicolas Watson, Institute of Health of Wellbeing Professor, University of Glasgow.

"While this is true for many children, for some the school holidays are a stressful and impoverished period of isolation, boredom and inactivity."

Professor Watson added: "For , summer holidays often entail increased financial pressures, food insecurity, poor health and exclusion from culturally enriching and healthful activities."

The lack of educational and developmental opportunities enjoyed by more affluent children means that the long summer break may be one of the most fundamental contributors toward the attainment gap between richest and poorest children, accounting for almost two-thirds of the gap by the time children reach the age of 14.

Professor Watson is calling for a system of social protection to be put in place to negate the impact of poverty during the summer holidays – this could be in the form of centres where children can take part in enriching activities in a safe environment with good quality childcare, where they are also fed.

"These children need help immediately," said Professor Watson. "First and foremost, steps must be taken to address the national problem of food insecurity to ensure that children do not go hungry or become malnourished during the school holidays.

"Second, providing accessible, good quality childcare that meets the diverse needs of families is vital if children's learning and wellbeing is to be supported, while enabling parents to pursue better paid and more secure employment.

"Third, although there is a substantial amount of evidence to support the claim that summer learning loss is a problem – and a particular concern for low-income families – there is a lack of research on the long term impact upon attainment and life outcomes, a gap that must be addressed through rigorous academic scrutiny."

Professor Watson is calling for research into interventions that seek to tackle these inequalities.

"We need to know what works and what does not to improve outcomes for children from low income families over the and how best we can reform and change the lives of these children.

"Unless we take steps to tackle this problem, the evidence would suggest that attempts to rectify the attainment gaps in education, health and wellbeing that exist between the wealthiest and poorest school children will be unlikely to succeed."

Child Poverty Action Group reported the number of children living in poverty in the UK is now four million and that in-work poverty is the most prevalent form of child poverty with 67 per cent of poor living in low income households. Nursery places cost 77 per cent more than they did in 2003 while earnings have remained largely unchanged.

Explore further: Holiday clubs provide far more benefits beyond just providing food, study reveals

More information: Hilary Stewart et al. The cost of school holidays for children from low income families, Childhood (2018). DOI: 10.1177/0907568218779130

Related Stories

Holiday clubs provide far more benefits beyond just providing food, study reveals

May 31, 2018
The largest study of school holiday clubs in England has found that as well as helping to combat childhood hunger, holiday clubs provide a number of social and health benefits including providing children a safe place to ...

Why quality childcare is important for low-income children

May 11, 2015
High-quality childcare can help close developmental gaps in children from low socio-economic backgrounds, according to new research from the University of Adelaide.

Study finds language, achievement benefits of universal early childhood education

February 22, 2018
Universal child care that starts as early as age one improves language skills for young children, especially those from low-income families, according to a study of Norway's child care system by a team of researchers led ...

Recommended for you

Fatty acids can slow down an overheated immune system

September 21, 2018
Sometimes, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's healthy tissue by responding to infections that do not exist. This causes chronic inflammation and leads to diseases including lupus (SLE), and this is what happens ...

Patient-centered visual aid helps physicians discuss risks, treatments with parents

September 21, 2018
A series of illustrations and charts designed as decision aids for parents of children with minor head injuries helped them communicate with emergency medicine physicians and make informed decisions about their child's care, ...

Study shows surprise low-level ozone impact on asthma patients

September 21, 2018
A new study led by UNC School of Medicine researchers indicates that ozone has a greater impact on asthma patients than previously thought. The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, recruited ...

Fish-rich diets may boost babies' brain development

September 20, 2018
Women could enhance the development of their unborn child's eyesight and brain function by regularly eating fatty fish during pregnancy. This is the suggestion from a small-scale study led by Kirsi Laitinen of the University ...

Understanding epilepsy in pediatric tumors

September 20, 2018
Pediatric brain tumors are characterized by frequent complications due to intractable epilepsy compared to adult brain tumors. However, the genetic cause of refractory epilepsy in pediatric brain cancer has not been elucidated ...

3-D-printed tracheal splints used in groundbreaking pediatric surgery

September 19, 2018
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has performed Georgia's first-ever procedure to place 3-D-printed tracheal splints in a pediatric patient. A cross-functional team of Children's surgeons used three custom-made splints, which ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.