We all know the importance of encouraging early literacy in kids under five. But with mums still often being the primary carer during the early years, dads are not always involved in everyday literacy activities.
However, research from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) has found that fathers who read to their children can have a unique impact on their child’s language development. The study also found that a child’s language development increased as they grew older, finding that children whose dads read to them at age two predicted better language development at age four.
“This may be because parents in the same household are reading the same books, but that the different ways in which they read has further helped child language development,” said Dr Quach Postdoctoral research fellow at MCRI and Melbourne University lead author.
“Adults all tend to read books differently, such as focusing on different words, pronouncing things differently or emphasising different parts of the story. All these differences help children understand the different ways they can use language,” said Dr Quach. “There is some research which suggests fathers are more likely to scaffold children’s reading, which means they divide the reading into smaller sections to enable the child to better understand the sections.”
Also, dads are wonderful at silly voices! And, as Karen Gawen Young People’s Services Supervisor from Sunshine Coast Council explains, these silly voices do so much more than entertain. “Dad’s silly voices can spark more imaginative discussions, and bring the story to life in a completely different way than mum’s reading might.” Here’s some simple ways for dads to get more involved in early literacy activities:
Need more ideas? There’s plenty of early literacy programs such as Storytime and Rhymetime at your local library, as well items available to borrow. Just head to first5forever.org.au or pop into your nearest branch.