The Unexpected Benefits of Reading with Dad
Welcome to Elephant Notes . . . our periodic take on some of the ideas, issues, and news impacting parents, children, and reading. This week, we’re celebrating Father’s Day.
Happy Father’s Day!
Father’s Day is the time to reflect on all the wonderful things that dads do for their families. What better way to show your appreciation than to give them the perfect gift—more quality time with their children through reading. In the spirit of Father’s Day, here are five ways that reading together can benefit both father and child.
Reading is a fantastic way to connect with your child. Not only is it a great opportunity to spend some quality one-on-one time with them, but reading together often creates lasting memories that you will both cherish. The laughs and smiles a book can bring are unforgettable.
Also, reading is a great way to explore your shared interests. There are so many books out there with so many different topics that you are bound to find something that you both enjoy. By diving into different books, you might discover some new topics or subjects you would like to explore more together.
Fathers serve as great role-models for their children. Many kids want to be just like their dads when they grow up. This desire to follow in your footsteps means that they look to you for cues and directions. Consequently, as a dad, you have a wonderful opportunity to inspire a love of reading in your child!
Something as simple as taking ten minutes to read with your child can show them that books are important and valuable. If they see that you are engaging with the book—doing silly voices or laughing or just generally enjoying the read—they will come to see reading as a fun activity. This kind of interaction will help create habits of reading that continue on even when they’re too old to read in your lap.
Improving Behavior and Concentration
Studies have shown that children perform better in school when they read regularly with a parent. And interestingly, children who read with their fathers specifically show better behavior and concentration in school.
More generally, reading with any adult helps children to improve many essential literacy and communication skills. The vocabulary and critical thinking skills a child develops while reading can help them do well in school. Building these skills can also help them succeed later in life as they search for jobs or attend college. There are endless ways that reading with your child can help prepare for them succeed.
During the week, it can be difficult for working dads (and moms!) to set aside quality time to spend with their children. After a long day of work, you probably want to relax and unwind. The good news is that reading with your child has been shown to relieve stress. A study conducted by the University of Sussex showed that within six minutes of reading, participants showed reduced muscle tension and a decreased heart rate. Picking up a good book and reading it with your child is a great way to carve out quality family time even after long, hard days.
Interestingly, studies have also identified differences in the ways that mothers and fathers read with their children. While mothers typically ask their children factual questions about what they’re reading, fathers spark imaginative discussions and make connections between the child’s real-life experiences and what’s in the book.
The variety of experiences offered by each parent is extremely valuable to a child’s development of literacy. Mothers and fathers can ask their child to think about a book in different ways, expanding critical thinking and deductive skills. By engaging with more than one person, children are also exposed to more vocabulary and alternative perspectives.
The Gift of Reading
Reading can help your relationship with your child flourish while also preparing them for success. This Father’s Day, celebrate all that dads do by gifting them some fantastic children’s books to share with their young ones.