I have always loved math. In fact, I once taught math in fifth through eighth grades. Math is orderly, straightforward and tends to have a right answer. I’ve noticed, however that my eight grandkids seem to lean away from the fun of math. Wow! It occurred to me that it might be up to me to give them a window into this exciting area of their educational experience. How does this grandpa proceed you ask?
Make it every day.
My wife and I recently had an opportunity to take three of our middle school grands to an outdoor activity. We could have made the ride in silence—something they might have preferred at 7:30 a.m.—or we could use the time for “Papa math questions.”
“Who knows what road we are traveling on? I asked.
“Farm Road 156,” one of them volunteered.
“Is that divisible by 2?” I asked.
“Sure,” said the youngest grand. “It’s even”.
“Will three go evenly into to I56?”
One grand said “Yes,” while another said “No,” and the third sat in silent contemplation.
“Does anyone remember the divisible rules?” I continued.
We racked our brains and came up with the following:
I told them I loved the rules for divisibility of both 6 and 7.
“Why?” they asked.
I replied, “6 works if the rule for 2 and 3 both work on the number.”
“And why do you like 7, Papa?” they persisted.
“It is the other side of the question,” I tell them. “There is no rule to help; you must do the division.”
They were not sure they loved that idea.
Back to Farm Road 156:
Divisible by 2? Yes. 3? Yes. 4? Yes. 6? Yes. And finally 13? Yes.
“I also love 13,” I inform them. “13 is a naughty little number that does not play well with others, but it is prime.”
We then launched off into the list of prime numbers. They are a fun lot. Can you list them?
All too soon we arrived at our destination. We did not finish this activity, but there’s always next time.
Opportunities to learn math skills are all around. Just be on the lookout for numbers, shapes, and patterns as you go about your day, and before you know it, you'll help your kids learn math while playing hopscotch on the driveway, building with blocks, or tracking stats at a baseball game.
Math is so much fun I’m already planning for our next trip.
Paul Baker is husband to one, dad to two, grandfather to eight, and recently retired school principal.
I am a proud father of two boys, who are 8 and 14, along with a 16 year old daughter. Over the past 4 years, I’ve noticed more and more gray hairs on my face and in my hair line.......95% of them are a result of my daughter. Don’t get me wrong, she is a great girl and stays out of trouble. I just stress over today’s technology, boys and all the things I can not control.
About four years ago, my wife, and mother of our three children, was in a serious car accident. We almost lost her, though she did suffer a severe, traumatic brain injury. She spent months in the hospital, and even today, she is not the same person. This all happened while my daughter was around 12, which is probably a time when a girl needs her Mom the most.
I’ll never forget the evening my daughter came to me in a bit of a panic, to notify me she was bleeding! I was like, oh my gosh, what happened, where? I don’t see anything, are you okay? Do we need to go to the hospital? She looked at me with a strange face, as if I was a complete idiot! “Dad!!! I’m bleeding!”, as she subtly glanced downward. As I recall, I went into an internal panic, yet I knew I had to show no fear on the outside.
For whatever reason, my response was for her to start a bath and go get in it. If nothing else, this would give me the time to think. I was thrilled to learn they had been taught in class how to use feminine products. I told her if she had any issues, she could call her Aunt or grandma. Whew, that situation went much smoother than I imagined it would.
Since then, we have had many conversations about talking to strangers online, device apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, along with inappropriate texts from boys.
It is a whole new world since I was in school. She was in 7th grade when the first boy sent her a text, asking for a nude photo of herself. Because we had talked about this, she was comfortable in coming to me and telling me about it. She instantly told the boy no, and stopped texting him. Later on in the school year, there a big bust at her school where a bunch of devices were confiscated, and the police were involved, over nude pics being passed around, by 7th graders. Crazy!!!
Now I see so many of these girls posting provocative photos to their social media accounts, which sets them up for negative feedback as well as the positive. Unfortunately, not all of these teen girls can handle the negativity, which leads to self harm, or worse. I try to monitor what my daughter posts, and if it’s something I don’t like, we talk about it.
The best thing to do, is try to start an open line of communication with your daughter as early as possible. Although my daughter and I have had some battles, she will still come to me to talk about all those fun, teen, female issues.
For more great insights and tips be sure to subscribe to our Good Dads Podcast, and check out this three-part mini-series (Part I, Part II, & Part III) with three Springfield, MO dads of pre-teen and teenage daughters.
Herb Cody is a husband and father of three. He is a part time Uber driver and full time caregiver of his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November, 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa MO. Herb can be reached for questions or comments at email@example.com. You can check out Herb's own blog at, www.thecodylife.weebly.com.
As we close out 2019 and look to 2020, we often take stock of our year; the good, the bad, and in-between. We vow to make some changes. Eat less. Hug more. Actually vacuum the coils underneath the refrigerator. Obviously, some will happen and some won't.
Something I've heard people say, and have said myself, is to volunteer somewhere. Anywhere. If this is you, let me recommend contacting Good Dads and checking to see if your neighborhood elementary school has an All Pro Dad chapter. Consider helping with the All Pro Dad chapter there . . . and if there isn't one, maybe you can start one! Maybe you have a child at the school, a grandkid, a nephew, or a neighbor. If you attend a church, maybe there’s already a relationship established with a nearby school. That's how I got started.
I didn't have any kids of my own when my church started a chapter at a school, but I jumped right in. Initially, I was just a helper, but slowly became a co-captain. (Teamwork makes the dream work.)
Now, our team is on Year 4 of meeting with kids and parents for breakfast at McGregor Elementary. We recognize many dads and kids. We know the staff at the school. We were politely asked not to give the kids candy before they go to class. You live and you learn, right?
You're probably thinking, that's great, but why should I get involved? There are so many answers to that question, but the simplest is if not you, then who?
This world moves fast. Our culture is so divisive and self-centered, that we all need to chip in. We can make a difference. Our community is like one big quilt. We can either continue to sew it together or let the edges fray. And it's too big of a job for just the government or the schools or the churches or the non-profits. We all have a role to play.
The wonderful thing about being an All Pro Dad Captain is that the barrier to entry is really low. All the material you need to get started is readily available. There is a curriculum with discussion ideas, games to play, and even videos to show if you want to use them. Moreover, our school district, Springfield Public Schools, has been very willing to help as much as possible.
What are the desired skills for a Captain, you ask?
So now you know. Being a Captain isn't daunting. The most important thing to remember is that you are a facilitator of a time for kids and their parents to just be together. And in this fast paced world, providing something so small can have a big difference.
Interested in learning more about All Pro Dad's impact in Springfield, MO? Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the Good Dads Podcast to hear three local Captains explain how they got involved and why both kids and dads look forward to the time together each month.
Click here to learn more about All Pro Dad resources and chapters around the country.
Brian Mattson and his wife, Jessica, welcomed a son to their family just over a year ago, to join their 10-year-old Golden Retriever named Albus. Brian is the Director of Worship & Operations at The Downtown Church and in his free time plays and sings in a cover band (Deja Crew), enjoys walks with the family, planning the next great road trip, and quoting Seinfeld episodes.
“Because I want to.”
This was my toddler son’s response to my question about why he had chosen to pee down the heating vent next to the toilet. It wasn’t very reassuring to me, but I’m certain it made a lot of sense to his almost-three-year-old way of thinking.
Toddlers are like that. In just a little over a year they’ve become much more mobile and the world is an exciting place. Because they are not capable of reasoning like an adult, they often try things just to see what will happen, e.g., emptying a container of bath powder into the bathtub just to enjoy the clouds they create in the process. One toddler I know climbed up on a chair to reach a container of Vaseline at a time when his parents thought he was sleeping. He saturated his hair and his brother’s for the sheer joy of smearing the viscose material. Another tried flushing a jump rope down the toilet, only to create a plumbing nightmare for his father.
“This parenting class isn’t working,” the dad exclaimed at the next workshop session, reciting his plumbing woes.
I had to tell him a parenting class isn’t intended to prevent two- and three-year-olds from being inquisitive. A parenting class is intended to help parents know what is normal and how they might respond to their child’s behavior.
Simply put, it’s normal for a toddler to explore her world and be experimental. It’s also normal for them to have very little understanding of the danger they may face or the consequences of their actions. This is why children in this age group require such close supervision. They are capable of creating a lot of trouble for themselves and their parents. They also are curious about many, many things and they like to imitate what they see their parents doing.
This imitative, creative, independent behavior led to an interesting early morning experience for one dad I know. Awakening from a deep sleep he staggered into the kitchen for his morning cup of coffee only to discover his three-year-old son, Ethan, preceded him by half an hour or so. Ethan had opened the freezer, removed a carton of strawberry ice cream, selected a spoon, and trundled off to the bedroom of his twin 15-month-old brothers. The three of them had enjoyed almost the entire contents of the ice cream carton when their dad came upon the scene. The family’s dog was finishing off what remained in the carton on the floor as Ethan proclaimed, “Look Daddy, I fed my brothers ice cream.”
When a parent is faced with a plugged toilet, urine in the heating vent, or a bedroom swathed in strawberry ice cream, it is understandably a frustrating experience. No one likes to clean up a mess and toddlers can create some pretty big messes. At the same time, this behavior is a normal developmental phase. It is part of a child’s cognitive development and is mostly easily avoided by close supervision—though it is definitely not possible to watch them all the time.
It’s important to remember that your child is not deliberately trying to create chaos or make you angry. She is learning. It is entirely appropriate for you, as the parent, to set limits and explain that certain behaviors are not acceptable, e.g. helping one’s self to ice cream without prior permission. Nonetheless, don’t be surprised by new opportunities to teach your young one what is and is not appropriate. Although they can be exasperating some days, they look to you for love and security. Even though it can appear “no” is their favorite word, what you think of them and how you respond really matters. If you learn to have realistic expectations about this stage of your child’s life, you can save yourself a lot of hassle and enjoy your young one in the process.
For more great insights and tips be sure to subscribe to our Good Dads Podcast, and check out this four-part mini-series with three Springfield, MO dads talking about the realities of their toddlers pooping, eating, sleeping, and saying "no!"
Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder and Executive Director of Good Dads. She is the wife of one, mother of two and grandmother of eight. She may be reached for question or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.