A study of 1,000 parents with kids aged up to five found they spend an average of just under 45 minutes a day playing with their child – a total of 260 hours each year.
Over those first five years, 165 hours is spent on painting, drawing and creative activities, and another 185 hours are taken up with reading together.
While more than 187 hours are spent on imaginative play – an average of nearly 44 minutes each week.
It also emerged 67 per cent of parents feel regular play sessions are ‘vital’ for their child’s development, with 69 per cent citing it as important for their child’s health and happiness.
While 53 per cent actively encourage their children to play because they believe it helps them “connect to the world around them”.
And four in 10 even believe it can have a direct impact on their child’s future success.
Developing everyday skills through play
The research was carried out to launch a new play programme from Fisher-Price and Family Action, which aims to help parents and caregivers get the most out of play with their children by turning a session into a positive and valuable learning experience.
It also emerged almost seven in 10 (68 per cent) see play sessions as a way to help their children express their emotions as well as benefiting their communication skills.
And 64 per cent reckon it helps them work towards reaching their key developmental milestones.
Lisa Lohiser, early childhood development expert at the Fisher-Price Play Lab, said: “The research has shown there is certainly the appetite there to help their children develop skills through play.
“There’s no right or wrong way to play as if you’re present and engaged with your child, you can’t go wrong.
“It’s a natural way to develop skills like problem solving, creativity, language and overall understanding of the world.”