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How Dads Can Help Boost Their Child’s Early Educational Success

A new study shows that kids that play, read and draw with their dad for as little as 10 minutes a day are more likely to succeed in early education and beyond.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published September 28, 2023
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Image: bbernard | Shutterstock

A little quality time can go a long way when it comes to setting baby up for success.

A new study from the University of Leeds has found that children do better at primary school if their fathers regularly spend as little as 10 minutes with them on interactive engagement activities like reading, playing, telling stories, drawing and singing.

The study analyzed test scores of nearly 5,000 five-and seven-year-olds and their interactions with their mother and father. According to the research, dads who regularly drew, played and read with their three-year-olds helped their children do better at school by age five. Dads being involved at age five also helped improve scores in seven-year-olds’ Key Stage Assessments.

While moms still tend to assume the majority of caregiving responsibilities, Helen Norman, PhD, a Research Fellow at Leeds University Business School maintains that a father’s involvement can be crucial, especially when it comes to academics. Moms had more of an impact on young children’s emotional and social behaviors than educational achievement.

“…If fathers actively engage in childcare too, it significantly increases the likelihood of children getting better grades in primary school. This is why encouraging and supporting fathers to share childcare with the mother, from an early stage in the child’s life, is critical,” Norman wrote in a press release.

To help Dads get more involved Andrew Gwynne, MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fatherhood, suggests that schools take a gender neutral approach requesting both parents’ contacts and working to actively engage and support dads to play their part.

"This study shows that even small changes in what fathers do, and in how schools and early years settings engage with parents, can have a lasting impact on children’s learning. It’s absolutely crucial that fathers aren’t treated as an afterthought,” Gwynne said.

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