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NEWS: PACEY study reveals key role that childcarers play in teaching children essential life skills

A new PACEY study has revealed the top skills that parents find hardest to teach young children. Tying shoelaces, whistling and using cutlery are the hardest skills to teach, according to the survey of 2,000 parents across the UK.

Learning to ride a bike, learning to tell the time, how to button a button, helping children to brush their teeth and to try different foods also feature in the top ten of trickiest skills to teach.

The survey reveals that children acquire many of these core skills primarily from their time in childcare. Four out of 10 parents said that their child learnt to share with other children whilst in childcare, whilst 3 out of 10 said their child learnt essential literacy and numeracy skills (such as writing their name and counting to 10) with their childcarer. A further 2 out of 10 parents said that skills such as learning how to put toys away, knowing the alphabet, learning the names of colours and adding numbers were all developed whilst in childcare.

The PACEY study carried out through OnePoll before the coronavirus outbreak began found 78 per cent of parents are amazed at just how quickly young children develop and learn new things.

The vast majority (86 per cent) strongly agreed or agreed that their child benefited developmentally from being in childcare. The main benefits to children identified by parents of being in childcare were: interacting with other children, having fun, learning a lot, trying new activities and becoming more confident.

PACEY chief executive Liz Bayram said:
“It is fantastic to see just how many parents recognise and appreciate the valuable role that childcarers play in helping their children acquire essential skills for life.

“Childcarers and parents across the country are facing an enormous challenge right now. Many children who would be going back to childcare or school this week are instead facing more time at home – they’re limited in the activities they can do so they’re likely to be bored or feeling frustrated. Helping children with all these important skills is not easy for parents – especially at the moment.

“To support parents, we are releasing a range of wonderful free resources created by PACEY members, childcarers and education experts. We hope they will give parents ideas to keep children interested and inspired at this challenging time.”

As well as acquiring skills that form the important building blocks for learning, the survey reveals that children also develop strong emotional and social skills whilst in childcare. Seven out of 10 parents agree that children benefit from interacting with other children in childcare; 6 out of 10 felt they became more confident; 5 out of 10 felt children got better at sharing; and 3 out of 10 agreed that building a strong bond with their childcarer was a key benefit of being in childcare.

“The emotional and social skills that children develop during childcare play a vital role in enabling children to reach their potential. We’ve been so moved to hear stories from so many childcarers who are maintaining relationships with their children to support them through this unsettling time. We are sharing these stories through our #UnsungHeroes campaign throughout social media.”

“We are particularly concerned that for those children who will be starting school in September, the summer term is ordinarily a crucial time for parents and childcarers to prepare children for school. Our website has lots of resources to help parents with this important transition.“

“There is so much pressure on parents and childcarers right now. We are maintaining our pressure on Government to get further support for childcarers so that we have a sustainable early years sector for when parents can get back to work. In the meantime, we hope our resources gathered from many PACEY members and expert childcarers will support parents to have fun with their children – and acquire some great new skills at the same time.”

The free resources for parents and our list of the 40 hardest things to teach children are available at