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Dad's reading is new chapter of child language development

Photo: Dad's reading is new chapter of child language development
Fathers, as well as mothers, are being encouraged to read to their kids after new research has shown the impact dads can have for their child’s language development.

The latest research from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) has opened the book on how children’s improvement in language is influenced by the involvement of their dad. 

Researchers found that when fathers read to their children at home, the child’s language development increased as they grew older.

In a study using data from the Let’s Read study that was funded by the Australian Research Council involving 405 two-parent families, fathers who read to their children at age two predicted better language development at age four.

Despite the recognised importance of the home environment in promoting child development, there has been very limited longitudinal research that has examined the role of fathers in promoting language and literacy development.
Also, these findings remained even after taking into consideration parent income, employment and education levels, as well as mother’s reading practices.

Lead author Dr Jon Quach said the research filled the blank pages on the role of fathers in supporting the language development of children.

“Maternal shared reading practices do predict literacy, but fathers’ contributions were previously less certain,” he said. “The findings also further support the importance of reading to children from an early age, by all adults in the child’s life.”

Patient Story
Bill Corcoran has always made it a priority to read to his son, two-year-old Edwin. Each night he and his wife take the time to read him a few stories, not only to help him calm down before bedtime, but to also engage him with reading and stories. Edwin clearly loves them; he’s begun to share them back with his parents.

“One night he was telling us a story about a brown bear,” Bill said. “It wasn’t until later we realized he was sharing a story with us he had learned at day care.”

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