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How does fathers’ involvement in childcare affect children’s educational development?

By Dissemination

9th Community, Work and Family conference: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

15-17 June 2023

Helen is presenting a paper that focuses on the relationship between fathers’ childcare involvement and their children’s educational attainment at ages five and seven (i.e. at the start and in the middle of UK primary education).

Results show that fathers’ involvement in the first year of school (at age 5) has longer-term positive implications by supporting educational attainment at age 7. On the other hand, mothers’ involvement affects the child in different ways by, for example, having a positive effect on their emotional and pro-social behaviour. These results underscore the importance of policy interventions to support and encourage fathers to be involved caregivers in the early years of a child’s life given the positive consequences this has on the children’s educational development, and on equality in the gender division of unpaid labour more broadly.

Fathers’ engagement in low-income households and the effects on children’s attainment at primary school

By Dissemination

British Sociological Association Conference – University of Manchester

14-15 April 2023

Abstract: Fathers spend more time on childcare than previous generations but the implications on children are unclear. Research conducted with mothers or ‘parents’ more broadly finds that engagement in educational types of activities (such as reading and playing) has an association with better primary school grades and cognitive skills. However, we know less about the effects from fathers’ engagement, particularly when they live in low-income households where opportunities to engage with children are more constrained.

This paper explores the relationship between paternal childcare engagement, poverty and children’s attainment at primary school. We theorise educational attainment in terms of a capabilities framework (Sen 1992) where household circumstances – such as parental engagement, household income, resources and other socio-demographics – interact and shape children’s opportunities (capabilities) to achieve in different ways.

We use structural equation models on data from three sweeps of the Millennium Cohort Study (2000-06) that have been linked to educational data provided by the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile at age five – a standard assessment for all primary school children in England. Results show that fathers’ childcare engagement does have a positive effect on children’s educational attainment, over and above the mothers’ engagement, and even reduces the negative effects of being in poverty. This has important policy implications because the findings suggest that fathers’ engagement in a child’s learning could offer different ways of tackling persistent socio-economic attainment gaps in early education.

Presentation slides: BSA_2023_HNorman_Fathers, mothers Inv in low income households_clean

Why should dads read with their children every day?

By Dissemination

That’s the title of a blog by DadPad, which you can read here.

We spoke to them about the PIECE study, and the blog includes on overview of our findings, as well as a summary of the Fatherhood Institute’s Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED) programme.

DadPad was set up by Cornwall Inspire CIC to give new fathers targeted information in the perinatal period.

Father reading with his child

Conversations on Care: Fathers and Care – influences and implications

By Dissemination

WiSE Centre for Economic Justice – ‘Conversations on Care’ lecture series, Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland

8th December 2022

Fathers are more involved in childcare and domestic work compared to previous generations but they still do much less than mothers. In this talk, Helen reflects on the gendered division of care, the barriers to father’s childcare involvement and the implications that this has on their children’s development.

Helen with Dr Nina Teasdale, Postdoctoral Fellow at WiSE

Time with Dad: Involving Fathers in the Home Learning Environment

By Dissemination

Fatherhood Institute (FI) online event, 7 October 2022

There were three presentations at this event:

Helen Norman – Does father involvement affect children’s educatonal attainment (PIECE project findings).

Adrienne Burgess – Head of Research at the FI – ‘What has lockdown done for father/child relationships?’

Jeszemma Howl – Head of Training at the FI – Can ten minutes matter? How a reading at home programme (Fathers Reading Every Day) impacts on father-child relationships.

You can watch a recording of the FI event and listen to all the presentations here

You can also read more about the FI work with Family Hubs: 

Using longitudinal data to explore how fathers’ involvement affects children’s educational outcomes

By Dissemination

Fathers and Longitudinal Research Panel – Timescapes 10 Festival, 14 September 2022 (online)

Chaired by Professor Anna Tarrant, University of Lincoln

Helen presented a paper that discussed how the use of longitudinal data in the PIECE project allowed her to explore individual trajectories and levels of change in relation to fathers’ involvement, and the impact this has on children’s educational achievements through primary school.

In this presentation, she reflected on the first stage of data analysis that focused on exploring the relationship between fathers’ childcare involvement and educational attainment at one time point, when children are age five. She then reflected on the second stage of analysis, which introduced longitudinal data to account for fathers’ pre-school involvement. This second stage added further nuance and insight to the findings, which show that paternal involvement does has a unique and important effect on attainment at school. She also reflected on some of the qualitative work for the project, which involved bringing in the voices of fathers to enhance understandings of the long-term relationship between paternal care and attainment at school.

She was also joined by Professor Tina Miller and Dr Georgia Phillip.

The Timescapes 10 Festival is a major celebration of advances in qualitative longitudinal methods through a mixture of international symposia, panel sessions, video provocations, sandpits, and demonstrator events. Jointly run through the Timescapes Archive and the National Centre for Research Methods, the Timescapes 10 Festival celebrates ten years since the conclusion of the original Timescapes programme of research. See here for more details about Timescapes 10.



Do fathers affect children’s progression in primary school?

By Dissemination

UK Research and Innovation – Staff Parenting Network, 13 September 2022 (online)

Abstract: In this talk, Helen Norman introduces the PIECE project, which explores whether, and in what ways, fathers’ engagement in structured activities at home (like playing, reading, drawing, painting, and doing musical activities), as well as the time fathers spend with their children more generally, influences their children’s educational attainment at primary school. Through the analysis of a large-scale national survey, results show that fathers do have a unique and positive impact on their children’s academic achievements in the early stages of school. However, there continue to be barriers to fathers’ home and school engagement, which suggests that more needs to be done to support dads to engage because of the benefits this has on early attainment at school.