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Harvard Study: Kids Benefit More From Dads Reading To Them Than Moms

By Victor Trammell

Reading to your children to enhance their learning capacity is considered to be a highly enriching educational activity.

However, is reading to a child a domestic duty  better suited for the mother or the father? Gender roles for parents in the process of childhood development in the home has always been a source of scientific investigation.

According to a recent study by a team of researchers at Harvard University, one gender is preferred over the other when it comes to the necessary household duty of reading to children. It turns out that fathers are recommended over mothers for reading to the little ones.

This recent Harvard study was primarily authored by Dr. Elisabeth Duursma. Dr. Duursma is a senior lecturer on early childhood education at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia. She is a graduate of Harvard Graduate School of Education where she earned her doctorate.

Dr. Duursma’s summary of the study she led was recently published in the Sydney Morning Herald. In her opinion editorial, she writes numerous reasons for the study’s rationale and explains why fathers are the better candidates for breaking open the books with children.

“When we looked more closely at what was happening during book reading interactions, we found that fathers used more abstract and complex language,” Dr. Duursma wrote. “When sharing a book with their child, they would often link events in the book to a child’s own experience,” she continued.

Dr. Duursma also noted that fathers interact with children much differently that mothers do, which affects how children comprehend. She described the father’s style more as what is called “roughhousing” and the mother’s style as what is called “chill cuddling.”

Roughhousing helps children better conduct themselves and aids in concentration, which is essential when it comes to shaping better reading comprehension. Dr. Duursma made a final appeal to fathers everywhere at the close of her opinion editorial for the Sydney Morning Herald. She wrote:

“Good fine motor skills could help children’s language skills as the little research in this area suggests they are related. So fathers, read to your children often and start early.”

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