Fathers play a vital role in their children's early learning, long before they start school and well beyond. A new study from the University of Leeds has found that children whose fathers count, read, play, sing, and draw with them just 10 minutes a day show a "small but significant" increase in their educational attainment at primary school.

The study also found that fathers' involvement has a unique and important effect on children's early learning outcomes, regardless of the child's gender, ethnicity, age, or household income. However, the study also acknowledged the significant detrimental effects of early poverty on educational attainment.

The researchers recommend that fathers spend as much time as they can in playful and educational activities with their children each week (and why not every day?). This could include reading stories, drawing and painting, singing songs, playing with LEGO sets, cards, and board games, or simply exploring nature outside together.

Even small amounts of father involvement can make a big difference in a child's early learning. If you are a father, here are three ideas for getting started:

  • Set aside 10 minutes (at least) each day to read to your child or play fun but educational games together.

  • Help your child learn new skills, such as counting, and identifying numbers, colors and shapes.

  • Encourage your child to explore their surroundings and ask questions. And, of course, answer them!

By taking the time to be involved in your children's early learning, you can do a lot to help them prepare for successful academic and professional careers.

Picture: Father playing LEGO with young daughter and son (ChildUp & DALL-E - 2023)