One year on from the launch of a reading scheme for fathers, Home-Start Arun, Worthing and Adur has spoken of the difference it has made to families in the area.
Fathers Reading Every Day, known as FRED, has seen 21 dads engage with the programme in the past 12 months, with 92 per cent seeing the benefits in their family.
The initiative aims to support fathers and help them bond well with their children through reading together.
Jane Lyons, FRED co-ordinator, said: “Even if dads aren’t living with their children, a version of FRED can be achieved, by reading each time they are together, in a library, in the car, café or at home.
“Homes without books is not a problem, as you can read the cereal packets or free newspapers. It all helps their language development. Right from birth, dads can read to their children and they will benefit.
“We know from national research that families who’ve completed FRED are four times more likely to exceed at school. When the family complete the FRED training, they receive a bundle of new books appropriate to the children’s ages. It’s a great ending and reward for their commitment.”
The practical four-week programme demonstrates the wider benefits of reading regularly to babies and young children.
Jane said reading enabled closeness between parent and child, strengthened the bond and was a precious time in the day for the family to take a breather and enjoy stories.
One dad who has completed the course, Lee Porter, works a fair distance from the family home and has only a short time with his children at bedtime. He said thanks to FRED, he now reads with his three children of ten, eight and five every day.
Lee said: “My reading wasn’t fluent when we started but now there are less stumbles. The kids are more proactive with asking to read now.”
Lee and his family have joined the library again and are enjoying selecting books together, with those featuring dinosaurs and animals the most popular choices.
He added: “We now sit down the three of us, with the younger two, and read together. Reading is better if someone is listening.
“I noticed increased patience and confidence of our middle child through reading every night. She now likes to read to her younger brother and I listen to her. If there’s a FRED 2, we’d do it.”
Lee said FRED had helped the family to establish as a positive routine which they all look forward to during the week.
Jane said Home-Start would love to extend the programme to more dads and Father’s Day was the perfect time to reflect on the benefits it can bring to all the family. For more information, or to donate funds or new books, telephone Jane on 01903 889707.