The extent to which reading to children at home reduces their chances of developing social and emotional problems in later life has been revealed in a new study.

Academics found that the magnitude of the gap in children’s education at home before they start school was larger than previously thought.

Between the ages of three and five, some children’s verbal skills are already 50% more advanced than others.

Experts said that the findings reinforced the fact that parents could be more influential in their children’s education than schools.

Dave Egan, Professor of Education at UWIC, said the findings were consistent with many other studies suggesting parents play a key role in children’s early development.

He said: “The main influence in education is of parents on their children. Schools have a very important part to play, peer groups culture is important as well.

“But the most powerful is the influence of the parent, it might be a grandparent, it might be another adult, but that influence of parent or another adult is huge.

“By the time that children come to school, by the age of three in Wales, all the evidence we have is that the time and interaction between parents and other adults and children enables them to have a good start when they start a more structured education.”

The research, carried out by teams at Essex University and University College London, also suggests that children living in the poorest families are up to eight times more likely to have serious social problems than those who are more wealthy.

Researchers said the study, published today in Archives of Disease in Childhood, was among the first to “chart the magnitude of inequalities in the pre-school years occurring in the UK today”.

Professor Yvonne Kelly of Essex University’s Institute for Social and Economic Research, said: “We have known for some time that there are clear links between early child development and a wide range of later adult outcomes and there have been numerous efforts to implement early intervention policies.

“But no-one has really been able to look closely at the size of the inequalities or to examine just how much effect the home environment really has on children of this age.

“It would be easy to say that a loving, stable, warm environment where children are read to daily and played with all the time is the answer to inequality, but this study shows quite clearly that there is still an enormous gap that is unaccounted for.

“If you are a parent working long unsocial hours for very little money and are living in poor quality accommodation, you are hardly in the best position to create the optimal environment in which our children can flourish.”

Prof Egan said the social and emotional benefits may be due to the interaction fostered by reading as well as the importance of a personal connection.

He said that encouraging men to read to their children might help boys close the gap with girls at an early age.

He said: “It’s more difficult to get boys into reading; they often see reading as a girly thing, as it’s often mothers and grandmothers that will read to them and most primary teachers are female.

“Doing more to encourage dads or male adults to read to boys is a good thing to do.”

The Welsh Government has a National Literacy Plan. The Make Time to Read campaign is part of this and encourages families to find 10 minutes a day to read with children.

[BE YOUR CHILD’S FIRST MATH TEACHER! – Teach Your Child to Count to 10 – ChildUp Early Learning Game & Method](”)

IS YOUR CHILD KINDERGARTEN READY? iCount-to-10 – Teach Your Child to Count to 10 – Early Learning Game & Method for iPad

Source: WalesOnline –