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Time Poverty or Time Welfare in Austrian Families?

Impact of family factors on children’s school achievements

This Policy Brief illustrates main findings of two European Centre’s studies on whether today’s parents have enough time for their children and/or provide sufficient support (for their children’s achievements in school) focusing on:

1) the time spent by parents with their children
2) the links between family factors and school achievements. National and international data (e.g. PISA-data) was analysed and surveys were carried out among Austria’s parents and their children of compulsory school age (9 to 14).

In spite of their coordination problems, Austria’s parents, in particular mothers, are trying to meet their children’s need for time spent together with them. Most children are satisfied with the amount of time their parents devote to them on weekdays. Approximately 1 out of 10 Austrian children aged 9 to 14, however, would like to spend more time with their parents.

The survey makes it clear that parents are more critical of themselves as far as the amount of time they have available for their children is concerned than the children themselves.

The least satisfied are children whose parents are under heavy job pressure, and those children whose parents work little and whose mothers report financial bottleneck situations. As a result, a “moderate” degree of gainful employment is most likely to meet the needs of children for time with their parents and is supposed to contribute to the economic security of the family as well as providing a well-balanced degree of control and freedom. The discrepancies between the answers given by the mothers and fathers and those given by their children point to the fact that adolescents do not need their parents‘ permanent presence, but do need parents who are available when needed.

The survey results show clearly that parents in Austria devote a significant amount of time to ”studying” with their kids, in particular, if their children attend primary schools. There have been critical discussions (also among experts) about the significance of this targeted support provided by the family for the child’s achievements in school: It is questioned whether (all) parents have enough competence for providing adequate help. The results of the survey carried out among parents prove that this question has worth asking: 27% of the mothers and 21% of the fathers felt that the academic topics were partly very difficult. 20% of the 9 to 14-year-olds answered that studying together with their parents was not very or not at all helpful.

Moreover, the authors are discussing empirical findings concerning the question on how much influence do families have on their children’s achievements in school. The Policy Brief is rounded off by conclusions and recommendations.

Annette Hexelschneider | alfa
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