Fathers Direct summary of research on fathers' influence over children's education
One high quality study demonstrated that a father’s interest in his child’s education is one of the most important factors governing the qualifications he or she will grow up to have in adult life – more important than family background, the child’s individual personality, or poverty. It may well be that the time fathers actually spend with their children on homework and schooling could be more important for their eventual success than the money they bring into the household (for review see Goldman, 2005).
Fathers’ affection, support and ‘authoritative’ parenting style are also clearly related to children’s better educational outcomes; just as poor parenting by fathers is associated with children’s worse educational attainment. Where children’s educational development is concerned, fathers appear to have a unique range of skills and experience to pass on. Mothers’ involvement is no substitute for fathers’ involvement – although of course it is very important in itself.
Here are some specific findings:
• Frequency of fathers’ reading to 1-2 year olds is linked with their greater interest in books later (Lyytinen et al, 1998).
• A significant relationship is found between positive father engagement at age 6, and IQ and educational achievement at age 7 (Gottfried et al, 1988).
• A father’s own education level is an important predictor of his child’s educational achievement.
• English fathers’ involvement with their children (at ages 7 and 11) correlates with better national examination performance at age 16 (Lewis et al, 1982).
• US fathers’ involvement in routine childcare has been associated with children’s higher school grades (Hoffman & Youngblade, 1999).
• Low paternal interest in children’s education has a stronger negative impact on children’s lack of qualifications than contact with the police, poverty, family type, social class, housing tenure and child’s personality (Blanden, 2006).
Fathers play an important role in education. This reminds me of some old home movies and pictures we have of Henry reading to our first daughter when she was still just a baby. She could just barely sit up and drooled like crazy. She would just beam up at Henry as he read to her. This is the daughter who was reading 60 chapter books a month when she was ten. Now that our daughter is almost 13, Henry has moved on from reading Cat in the Hat for our daughter to discussing books like John Adams with our daughter.
Happy Father's Day!
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