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Children rank having a garden at home or outdoor space nearby as #2 on their list of ‘must-haves’.

This is immediately followed by the #3 ‘must have’ of at least one family holiday away from home each year. And #5 on the list is ‘monthly trips or days out with the family.’

In fact, only one essential item among the top five (a personal music player #4) is a ‘possession’ – according to a survey by the Children’s Society and the University of York.

So while some might groan at the materialistic items lower down on the list (designer trainers, tv, family car etc), here’s what I read into it.

The children aren’t saying they want to go to theme parks, or that they want expensive toys to play outside with. They have not said that the holiday needs to involve planes, hotels or being entertained by underpaid staff dressed as cartoon characters. What they say they need doesn’t have to be costly.

To me, they seem to be asking:

a)      to get out of the house

b)      with you and me

A spokesman for The Children’s Society reached a similar conclusion: “There is lots of stuff about wanting to spend time with their family and playing.”

Maybe we can’t measure deprivation using only factors such as family income, the number of adults in paid work or free school meals. It’s not just about money and how you spend it; it’s about time – and how you spend that.

Top of the list is ‘money to save each month’. Wow! Not money to spend each month – but to save. Here’s to a generation of financially savvy children who appreciate being outside.

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