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Dads urged to play a bigger role in story time

The National Literacy Trust is urging more dads to get involved in reading to their children, after a new study revealed that mothers feel they have more influence in early literacy development than fathers.

Early literacy practices at home in 2015: The annual survey of parents showed that half as many fathers as mothers said they have the most influence over developing their pre-schooler’s literacy skills.

The survey also indicated a gender gap in early years reading, reporting that 70.6% of girls between three and five read stories daily, compared to 61.1% of boys.

The NLT, in partnership with YouGov, surveyed 1000 parents and said that the results point to an opportunity for fathers to be reading role models from the outset.

“While it is promising that over one third of fathers feel they have the most influence over their child’s early literacy development, there is a clear opportunity for more dads to share stories with their children from an early stage,” said Jonathan Douglas, NLT director.

“Dads and mums are both key reading role models for their children and by supporting each other they will help boys in particular to develop the literacy skills that will transform their future.”

The Fatherhood Institute runs a program called Fathers Reading Every Day, and said that the significance of fathers’ involvement in children’s education is often underestimated by local authorities, schools, early years settings and parents themselves.

“We know that fathers and father-figures are hugely influential on child outcomes, but services remain resolutely mother-focused and little is done to actively reach out and engage with dads, or to support mums to share the responsibility for supporting the children’s education,” said Adrienne Burgess, joint chief executive of the Fatherhood Institute. “The time to rectify this is long overdue.”