Six years ago, I left my full-time job to
Stay-at-home moms still outnumber stay-at-home dads by about four to one, but the percentage of stay-at-home dads has been steadily increasing over the last dozen years or so. And according to Psychology Today, that’s a very good thing.
Psychology Today reports more involved fathers
The reason why a dad’s involvement can benefit their child’s academic future has to do with something called “mean lengths of utterance.” It sounds fancy, but it just refers to the average number of words a parent speaks when reading to their child. Psychology Today cited a study showing preschool-aged kids with dads who spoke more words during reading sessions ended up developing a stronger vocabulary and better math skills compared to children whose fathers spoke less. On the other hand, the study showed a mother’s mean lengths of utterance only impacted their child’s future mastery of math word problems.
Of course, a dad doesn’t have to stay at home to take an active interest in his child’s academic progress. Non-residential fathers who stay on top of their child’s homework and school activities can have a major positive impact. Children with working
Challenges Fathers Face
Unfortunately, many non-residential dads find it hard to remain involved. That’s because schools tend to assume the mother is the primary caregiver. For example, in a divorce situation where the father lives in a different home, schools often send academic information to the mother only, sometimes ignoring the father entirely.
“My son’s school never calls me,” lamented one dad in a conversation with Psychology Today. Another dad said he texts his daughter every day because it’s the only way he can find out the dates of important tests, how his daughter performed on them, and when her swim meets take place.
Sometimes, the opposite is true. I spoke with my friend Jason, whose wife works full-time while he spends the bulk of his days with the kids. He says he not only remains academically involved with his children at
“I started volunteering in my son’s kindergarten class and in the library,” he tells me. “So, they got to know me pretty quickly on campus. We have the opposite problem — people at school are sometimes unfamiliar with my wife because she works and isn’t around during school hours.”
Psychology Today says there’s “no doubt” about the positive impact a father can have on a child’s academic life. They suggest fathers reflect on how much time they’re spending with their kids on homework, as well as other school activities, and consider whether there are any changes they want to make. Psychology Today points out the benefits of a father spending significant time with his kid on academics can go beyond school. Kids just feel better about themselves when their dad is invested.