Sunday, December 30, 2007

Father's vocabulary affects child's language skills

Father's who use variety of words while communicating with their children help strengthen their language and vocabulary skills.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill analysed 2-year-olds interacting with their parents and found that the more diverse vocabulary the father used, the more highly developed the child's language skills were at the age of 3. It seems important for fathers to talk to their children and use a variety of words to their child.

Previous research on how parents influence children's language development has focused on mothers. This study emphasized the contribution of fathers' vocabulary to children's language development.

The researchers analysed information from a study of 120 children recruited from 11 childcare centres. All had begun attending the centres before their first birthday. Data were available for 92 families when the children reached 2 years of age, and for 67 families when the children turned 3. These fathers were on average pretty highly involved in their children's daily care.

The key factors that predicted a child's language development were the diversity of the father's vocabulary, the mother's level of education, and the quality of the day-care the child was receiving. They determined childcare quality based on several factors including child-teacher-ratio, teachers' interactions with children and teacher's education level.

This does not conclude that a father's language input matters more than a mother's. Instead, they demonstrate that a father's contribution also matters. While early childhood education and intervention efforts have traditionally focused on mothers, the findings suggest they should include fathers, too.

Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology

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