5 Big Questions: Catherine reveals report findings & answers questions about early years

Following from the launch of the 5 Big Questions on the Under Fives survey back in January, The Duchess of Cambridge gave an update on the research insights this week, as well as answering questions sent to her about the project and early years.

The Royal Foundation released a report of findings from the survey, which will help further understanding of people’s perceptions and beliefs of parenting and childhood. 528,000 responses were given to the survey launched by Kate at the beginning of 2020.

The five main outcomes of the study were as follows:

  1. People believe a child’s future is not predetermined by the circumstances of their birth – but only a quarter of people really focused on how important the first five years are
  2. Parents find it very hard to prioritise their wellbeing, even though only 10% of parents who responded take time to think about their own wellbeing
  3. 70% of parents ‘felt judged’ about how they were raising their children, which affects half of respondents’ mental health
  4. The pandemic has seen parental loneliness increase from 38% of parents to 63%, a trend that is increased in deprived areas
  5. 40% of people think that community support has increased in 2020

The publication of this research follows nine years of work by The Duchess of Cambridge in which she has looked at how difficult experiences in early childhood are often the root cause of challenges such as poor mental health, family breakdown, addiction and homelessness; the cost of late intervention estimated to be around £17 billion per year in England and Wales.

You can read the full report here.

The Duchess of Cambridge has released the five top insights found from the 5 Big Questions survey (Kensington Palace)

In a rare video not giving a prepared speech, the Duchess used an iPhone to find questions sent to the Kensington Palace Instagram account. Catherine began by answering what ‘early years’ meant, and explained it covers the period from pregnancy until a child starts school.

Another user had asked what sparked the Duchess’ interest in the Early Years, and replied: “I actually get asked this question a lot. I think people assume because I am a parent, that’s why I’ve taken an interest in the Early Years.

“I think this really is bigger than that. This isn’t about – just about – happy healthy children, this is about the society I hope we could and can become.

“Right from the early days, meeting lots of people who are suffering with addiction or poor mental health, and hearing time and time again that their troubles now in adulthood stem right back from early childhood experience.”

With a giggle, Kate read aloud: “How do you manage toddler tantrums in your household – especially with multiple children?”

“Yes, that’s a hard one… I’d also like to ask the experts myself!”

A response from Alice Haynes, who is Deputy Head of Early Years Programme, followed. “As a mum of a two-year-old, tantrums are something I’m very familiar with. When my son has a tantrum, I try to put into words how I think he might be feeling, in a slow, and calm and gentle way.”

“What did you like most in your childhood?” was another query the future Queen Consort answered.

“That’s a very good question,” she said. “I loved spending time outside and that has stuck with me for my whole life.”

The Duchess of Cambridge also set the record straight on the idea that she only became interested in the early years work since having her own children in 2013, 2015 and 2018 respectively. “People often ask why I care so passionately about the early years. Many mistakenly believe that my interest stems from having children of my own.”

“While of course I care hugely about their start in life, this ultimately sells the issue short.

Duchess Kate scrolls through the questions sent in to her about early years

“Parenthood isn’t a prerequisite for understanding the importance of the early years. If we only expect people to take an interest in the early years when they have children, we are not only too late for them, we are underestimating the huge role others can play in shaping our most formative years too.”

The Royal commented on the types of questions submitted. “Gosh, I’m amazed at the honesty in some of the questions coming through.” she said, scrolling.

“Are there any projects coming up for 2021?” quizzed another.

“Yes, a lot!” came the response, “and I think there will be for quite some years to come too.

“Because this really isn’t something we are going to be able to change quickly and overnight.  It’s going to take generations and I’m keen to support this for the long term.”


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