debra brewster_kids playing soccer

Kids flock back to group activities

UK preschoolers have enrolled in swimming lessons, dance classes and group sports in much greater numbers this year, according to Childwise.
December 1, 2021

After more than a year of social distancing and spending a lot of time on screens, the number of UK preschoolers joining organized group activities has risen by 10%, according to a new study from Childwise. Of the parents surveyed, 26% say their preschoolers have participated in group activities this year, up from 16% in 2019.

That number is highest among boys ages three to four, with 39% of this group taking part in an organized sports activity. But the data is similar across genders, and kids seem to be more keen to get moving and gather with friends than they were pre-pandemic.

Swimming is the most popular activity, with 37% of parents taking their preschoolers to the pool on a regular basis. This is followed by dance classes (22% in general, and 31% among three- and four-year-old girls) and group music lessons (14%).  On average, UK kids are now participating in 1.4 activities, up from 1.2 activities before COVID.

When preschoolers do have time to watch TV, it’s not all about kids programming. A quarter of them are tuning into news and sports network BBC One, a 5% increase over 2020. Childwise says this jump is likely due to big sporting events that took place in the last year, such as the Tokyo Olympics and UEFA European Football Championships. They’ve also been watching more shows on ITV14% of preschoolers regularly tuned into the general programming channel this year, up from 9% in 2020. And in general, 37% of preschoolers watched a mainstream channel this year, representing an 8% increase over 2020.

But kids are still watching plenty of content that’s made for them. On the streaming front, Netflix is the most popular service among preschoolers, with 50% using it regularly. This is followed by Disney+ (38%), Amazon Prime Video (29%) and YouTube/YouTube Kids (28%). The preschool crowd’s favorite linear channel is CBeebies (51% watch it regularly), followed by Nick Jr. (27%), Milkshake! (27%), Nickelodeon (24%) and Cartoon Network (24%). And when they tune in, their favorite shows are Peppa Pig, PAW Patrol, Cocomelon and Bing and Blippi—in that order.

Findings for “The Pre-School Report 2021″ are based on online interviews Childwise conducted with 1,072 parents of kids between six months and four years old in August and September 2021.

Photo by Debra Brewster on Unsplash

About The Author
News editor for Kidscreen. Ryan covers tech, talent and general kids entertainment news, with a passion for kids rap content and video games. Have a story that's of interest to Kidscreen readers? Contact Ryan at



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