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Fathers’ Language Skills Seen as Important for Children

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A father’s language skills may have a greater impact on a child’s language development than the mother’s speech does, a study suggests.

The research, which appears in the November-December issue of the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, examined differences in the way mothers and fathers spoke to their 24-month-old children. Follow-up studies showed that at 36 months of age, the number of different words that the fathers had used was a predictor of greater language development in the children. The mothers’ speech was not a significant factor.

However, the mothers’ levels of education and the total quality of child care also were factors in language development, according to the study, conducted by two school of education researchers, Nadya Pancsofar and Lynne Vernon-Feagans, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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