A study shows that parents can improve their children's academic performance considerably by reading together, singing songs and even sharing family meals, according to new research, writes Graeme Paton at the Telegraph.
The study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found that while research said most parents knew "instinctively" that spending time with their children can give them a head start in life, reading books with their children had the greatest effect on performance in school.
But it added:
"As many parents have to juggle competing demands at work and at home, there never seems to be enough time.
"Often, too, parents are reluctant to offer to help their children with school work because they feel they lack some of the skills that would make a difference to their children's success in school.
The OECD analyzed data from 14 different countries, including the results of independently administered tests and surveys of parents. And the good news is that, many parent-child activities that are associated with better reading performance among students involve little expense and no specialized knowledge.
It found a close link between parents' "involvement with their child" as they started primary education – aged four, five or six – and academic performance at 15, irrespective of families' social class.
The average improvement was found to be the equivalent of six months' extra schooling compared with children who did not have the same level of encouragement from parents.
"All parents can help their children achieve their full potential by spending some time talking and reading with their children – even, perhaps especially, when children are very young," said the study.
However, the Associated Press has reported on a study that shows as parents are spending more time reading with their children, but stress and tiredness can prevent it from being fun.
Sixty percent of parents of four to six-year-olds said they read with their child for pleasure on a daily basis. But while more parents are reading with their youngsters, just a third (33%) of those questioned said they are happy with the amount of time they spend reading for pleasure with their child.
Nearly one in five said their own stress levels stops reading being fun.