Children are at their happiest when they are at school and are most miserable during the Easter holiday.
English schoolchildren have 13 weeks of holiday each year and although many adults may look on this with envy, research from the University of Essex suggests they would be wrong to do so.
Author Gundi Knies tracked the levels of satisfaction children feel at different points throughout the year. To do this she used information from the UK Household Longitudinal Study, an extensive research project launched in 2009 to collect data from as many as 40,000 British families.
She found that children had higher levels of happiness when they were in school. While their family satisfaction did not change during school holidays, their contentment with their friends did. Children were more likely to be unsatisfied with their friends when they did not see them every day.
Another reason for the drop in happiness could be because the youngsters did not have as much to occupy their time when they were not in school. “Everyone needs something meaningful to fill their day”, Knies said.
The Easter holiday, which schools are about to embark on soon, was the time young people were most likely to be miserable, she found. This could be because of where most exams fall in the school year, according to head teacher Steve Jackson. Speaking to The Economist, Jackson explained that as exams fall in the summer, the Easter holiday can often be spent either revising or feeling guilty about not doing so. Additionally, exam pressure has “increased exponentially over the years”.
Earlier this year, a survey by mental health charity Place2Be found that as many as two thirds of British primary school children worry “all the time”. More than half claimed they were mostly concerned about their families, while 48 per cent said their friends’ wellbeing was the main reason for their worries.
Photo by Sébastien Gagnon via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.