Study Finds that Fathers are Critical for Children’s Language Development Skills

Most children learn language skills better and faster when a father is involved in the process, according to a study conducted by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina.

The study concluded that in households where both the mother and father work, the father’s impact on language-learning was greater than the mother’s.  Researchers had videotaped parents as well as their two-year-olds as they children played.  Where fathers were present and using diverse vocabularies, the children demonstrated higher language development, the researchers say.

On the other hand, the mothers’ vocabulary was not shown to have a significant effect on the children’s language improvement.

Nadya Panscofar, one of the study’s authors, said that the study emphasizes that child development happens best when the father as well as the mother is included.  She said a family who wants to boost a child’s IQ must include the father, as must those who want to make sure their children are better prepared for school.

Panscofar, along with Dr. Lynne Vernon-Feagans, worked together to coordinate the study when both researchers were affiliated with Penn State.

Another significant finding of the study:  Children who received higher quality child care from age 0 to three also received higher scores at age 3 on expressive language development tests. Still, according to the findings, family involvement, especially by the father, was more important than child care.

While the study’s authors have not gone this far, some families have taken this news to indicate the value of stay-at-home fathers as opposed to the traditional mom-at-home routine.  While this is not likely to become the norm any time soon in the West, it does, nonetheless, emphasize the problems that might arise when a child is raised by only one of his or her parents.  Child development must include both parents to be most effective, according to this and other studies.

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