Dad’s the word

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By Tim KahnInclusion Officer at Pre-school Learning Alliance

Parents, on the whole, are the most important people in children’s lives, so why is it so tough to involve fathers in children’s early years care, and how would involving them more benefit a child’s development?

Involving fathers

We’re delighted to have worked closely with Pre-school Learning Alliance and Families Need Fathers to bring you a round-up of recent research and recommendations about the practical things that you can do to involve fathers in your setting.

Where’s Dad?

Research shows that children do better across a range of measures when fathers are involved in their lives. Researchers and policymakers support father involvement, but what do children, fathers and mothers think about involving fathers in early years services? Pre-school Learning Alliance shares the results of its ‘Where’s Dad?’ research with Nursery Ed PLUS!

The project

The project took place in three early years settings in London. We ran focus group interviews with the mothers and fathers, and asked them what they thought about involving fathers in early years settings. In two settings, we suggested a number of child-friendly ways that the settings could ask the young children for their views.

These were, for example, based around reading them the storybook My Dad by Anthony Browne (Corgi Children’s Books), and asking them to draw their mums and dads, and talk about their pictures as they drew them.

My Dad

Is involving fathers a good idea?

All of the mothers and fathers who took part in the focus groups were in favour of involving fathers in early years settings, and most of the children thought it was a good idea, too. From this, we concluded that settings should routinely ask fathers to come into the setting so that children – especially those who do not have contact with their own fathers – can benefit from their presence. We also thought it was important that settings should be attentive to whether any of the children (or the mothers or fathers) appeared to be upset by the presence of fathers in the setting.

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