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Why dads matter to school age children

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Fathers’ positive involvement in their children’s education has all sorts of potential benefits.

High levels of interest by a father in his child’s education, his high expectations for their achievement and his greater involvement with their schooling are associated with:

  • Higher educational achievement
  • Greater problem-solving skills
  • Greater progress at school
  • Better exam/test/class results
  • More qualifications
  • More enjoyment of school
  • Participation in more extracurricular activities
  • Better school attendance
  • Fewer behavioural problems at school (e.g. reduced risk of suspension or exclusion)

All this is good for dads too - those that are involved in their children’s education have more confidence, self-esteem, are better at learning and have a better relationship with their child.

Just in case you’re not convinced that your involvement matters, check out these key findings:

  • Fathers’ involvement with their children at ages 7 and 11 is related to exam performance at age 16.
  • Fathers’ involvement at age 7 predicts educational attainment at age 20.
  • Fathers’ interest in their daughters schooling at age 10 is linked to educational attainment at aged 26.
  • There is a significant relationship between positive father engagement at age 6, and IQ and educational achievement at age 7.
  • Having a father with little or no interest in his education reduces boys’ chances of escaping poverty by 25%.
  • A father’s interest in his child’s education (time spent with the child on homework and schooling) is more important in determining the child’s qualifications than contact with the police, poverty, family type, social class, housing type and the child’s personality.
  • The amount of time that fathers spend with their children day-to-day has a greater effect on school marks than the amount of money they earn.
  • Fathers exert greater influence than mothers on boys’ educational choices.
  • Fathers talk differently to their children from how mothers do. They use more abstract words and offer more explanations, which help the child understand differences between their own emotions and those of other people.
  • The amount of time fathers spend reading with their children is one of the best ways of predicting how well their children will read and write.
  • The more time fathers spend reading themselves the better their children do on reading tests.
  • Fathers’ reading habits influence boys’ ability to read, their levels of interest and their reading choices.

Prepared by Jeremy Davies of the Fatherhood Institute.