Fathers for School Readiness

Why ‘dad play’ is crucial for kids

‘Dad’s play’ is the focus of a new initiative from the University’s Family Action Centre, with fathers being encouraged to ‘get serious’ about playtime in a bid to better prepare their kids for school.

Launched last week at the University by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, the Fathers for School Readiness website provides tools for educators to work with dads and mums to prepare children for the school environment from a social and learning perspective.

Family Action Centre project leader, Dr Richard Fletcher, said the initiative built on an increasing body of research showing that early and direct intervention with young people and their families was critical to improving educational outcomes and building aspiration for learning.

‘Playtime with both parents is important for the development of pre-school aged children. Our research has found that playing with dad can boost a child’s vocabulary and ‘rough and tumble’ play is an excellent way for children to learn how to manage strong emotions, such as anger,’ Dr Fletcher said.

The project also develops Dr Fletcher’s research showing that fathers’ high-quality ‘rough and tumble’ play is linked to fewer behavioural problems in pre-schoolers.

‘Pre-school children are developing their language and self-control at a terrific rate and early interaction with both of their parents will help develop these skills before they walk through the school gates,’ Dr Fletcher said.

‘In the classroom children need to learn how to wait their turn, explain themselves coherently and know how to co-operate with other children. Playtime with mum and dad is essential to learning social norms and how to behave in a range of situations.’

The Fathers for School Readiness website includes user-friendly tips, videos, resources for dads and messages for mums. The materials, which have been tested with dads (and mums) in workshops in early childhood centres, recognise the special qualities that fathers can bring to language, literacy and their play with their children.

The $150,000 website was funded through the Australian Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP), which provides funding to assist universities to develop activities in partnership with schools and community groups.

The University’s Family Action Centre is a national leader in strengthening families and communities. To become a friend of the Family Action Centre visit here.

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