Parenting matters: early years and social mobility

Document type
Paterson, Chris
Date of publication
1 August 2011
Children and Young People, Families
Social welfare
Material type

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Research has shown that the quality of parenting and early education have an overwhelming influence on children’s later progress at school and in their careers. Typically, children from the poorest homes are exposed to fewer words, are less likely to read books with their parents and eat poorer diets than their peers in richer families. As a result, children from deprived families fail to master essential skills and become physically unhealthy. This report calls for parenting advice to become as widespread as antenatal classes. It suggests that poorer parents could be rewarded for attending classes with higher child benefit payments or annual bonuses. Through an advertising campaign, parents would be given a checklist detailing how they should read to, play with, talk with, praise and feed their young children. Companies which make toys and baby food would be encouraged to brand their products with an official logo under the proposed scheme, which is modelled on the successful ‘five-a-day’ fruit and vegetables dietary campaign.

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