From the time they are very young, children often love nothing better than to have a parent read to them. It doesn’t matter how many times they’ve heard the same story, if they’re younger than three or four, they want to hear the same tale again, and again, and again. Some parents will tell you they’ve read the same book so many times, they could recite it by memory. Try skipping a page in an effort to hurry up bedtime and parents will tell you their child has the story memorized as well. “You skipped a part,” they’ll protest. “Don’t miss those pages.”
Perhaps it’s sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, or on daddy’s lap, that endears young children to the miracle of reading. Maybe it’s the magic of imagination as parent and child explore new worlds and funny people together. When parents use different voices and pause for dramatic effect, the mystery and enchantment is not lost on their offspring. Who doesn’t like the anxious anticipation of a scary story while cuddled up with someone bigger and stronger who will protect them and help them be brave?
Reading with young children on a regular occasion has great benefits when it becomes part of a family’s routine. Parents and children benefit from a time of calm and closeness. Memories are made and traditions are born. But other important things are also occurring when parents make the time to read with their offspring.
Reading is a foundational skill to your child’s success. With the exception of active play, nearly every other activity depends on a child’s ability to decode letters and make meaning of words and sentences. Science, history and any kind of language arts depend on it. Even math requires a child be able to read and make sense of written instructions and word problems. Simply put, children who learn to enjoy reading and do it well, usually do better in school.
What Can a Good Dad Do?
There are many things a father can do to encourage good reading habits in his child. These include the following:
Model reading for your child, i.e., let him see you reading. It doesn’t matter what—a magazine, manual or book—even something on your notebook. The important thing is they observe their dad reading.
Take your child to a library or bookstores. Introduce your child to the world of books. Allow her to lead you to what she finds interesting.
Read to your child. Establish a routine that includes regular reading to or with your child.
Make reading fun. When you read to your child, use funny voices and dramatic pauses. Help them see what an enjoyable activity reading can be.
What about Dads-at-a-Distance?
Some dads travel for work and are gone from home many evenings of the week. Others are deployed. Some drive an over-the-road truck. Dads like this have an additional challenge when it comes to encouraging their child’s reading success, but today more than ever before it’s easier for them to establish helpful reading habits with their child. Consider the following:
Modeling: It may be more difficult for your child to see you read, but you can certainly talk about what you’re reading. Find out what books are being assigned at school—particularly when your child starts with chapter books in second or third grade and follow along with them. This will help them see you’re interested in what they’re learning and help you ask better questions about their homework.
In Person: When you are at home, make time to visit a library or bookstore, in addition to reading with them yourself. When dad uses his precious time at home to include 20-30 minutes of a reading-related activity, he speaks volumes to his child about its importance.
Use Social Media: Thanks to the internet, you and your child can both hear and see each other even when separated by hundreds of miles. There’s no reason a dad cannot read a book to his child via FaceTime every night, or listen to a budding reader practice his new skill while listening from afar. Consider buying two of the same book or borrowing one copy from the library. In this way, a child can follow along, while dad reads even if the internet connection doesn’t allow visual contact.
Reading is important to a child’s academic success, but it can also be the basis for many happy and positive memories between parent and child. Why not choose one new reading-related activity to create new memories for you and your child, while also strengthening the likelihood of his success at school?
FOMO – that’s what some people use for “Fear of Missing Out,” that is, being so concerned about missing something important you are rarely actually present in the moment. For some, this means constant connection to social media. Who hasn’t seen people in a lovely setting – couples in a cozy restaurant, families at the beach or on vacation, parents at the park with their children – but they are really somewhere else because their attention is their phones. They are really fairly oblivious to what is going on right in front of their nose because they’re distracted by, and engaged with, something on their smart phone. In many cases they have FOMO, a fear of missing out on a group text, a post on Instagram or Facebook, or an interaction on an online game. There are so many options to grab their attention and they fear missing out.
FOMO can be a problem with social media, but it can also be a concern when it comes to our kids’ activities. There’s real pressure to put kids in sports at earlier and earlier ages. I recently heard a parent say she has some regret about not putting her children in basketball earlier because now they were “so far behind” skill-wise as 11-year-olds she didn’t know if they could catch up. It wasn’t that long ago that 10- and 11-year-olds were just beginning to learn skills related to soccer, basketball, volleyball and the like, but in the past 15-20 years, pressure to participate has pushed down to younger and younger children. It’s not uncommon now to see 4-year-olds enrolled in organized sports. I doubt that a majority of parents enjoy spending a significant portion of their Saturday morning standing on the sidelines of a soccer field, especially when their children are quite young. I would guess that many feel pressure from other parents and they “fear missing out” for their child’s sake. Kids start so young these days. What if their child is left out?
I’ve got nothing against organized sports, music lessons, gymnastics, karate, or any number of things we allow our children to try. The problem comes when families are so over-scheduled they rarely spend time sitting at the same table eating with and talking to each other. When this happens, most conversations take place in a car coming or going from an event if – and this is a big if – kids and parents are not distracted by radio, podcasts, videos in the back seat, and so on. Over time, kids tend to feel more disconnected from their parents and parents find it hard to engage their children.
What’s a concerned parent to do? Here are few things to consider:
Dr. Jennifer Baker
Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder and 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.
I am a father of three beautiful, talented and amazing children. This is the first year in which each of our three kids attend a different school. Our mornings are hectic and we are crunched for time, so that I may get each child to school without being tardy. They rarely eat a nutritious breakfast to get their day off to a great start. Sometimes my 13-year-old goes to school wearing his 7-year-old brother’s shirt or shorts. Many times, my 7-year-old goes to school with mismatched socks, orange shorts and a red shirt, as if he is auditioning for a part as a clown in a school play. Neither boy makes any attempt to do anything with their hair. My daughter, who is now in high school, has a closet full of clothes, yet she keeps a solid rotation of five outfits she prefers to wear week after week. I’ve resorted to hiding things, just to make her wear some of her other clothing.
This year, the kids are in 2nd, 8th and 9th grade. There have been many ups and downs along the way. I’ve learned that I have to be able to handle each challenge and each child differently. Compared to those years when I was going through the public school system, it seems like a whole new world today.
I always thought I’d be the good dad, who would sit down and help my kids with their homework when they needed it. When my oldest two began junior high, they both struggled in math. I figured this would be my time to shine . . . Dad to the rescue! I quickly realized, this thing called “Common Core” was beyond my comprehension. I felt helpless, and like some sort of a high school dropout with 6th grade level intelligence. I had to set up tutoring sessions for each of them during 7th grade. While my daughter caught on and ended up getting good grades for the year, my son did not. He struggled all year. His struggles in math, led him to give up in other classes as well. He wasn’t doing his homework, or attempting to retake tests for better grades. He started to lash out with the teachers. He teetered between an F and D in math, and D and C in science and history all year. It wasn’t until I took him to the doctor to get a checkup, I realized his prescription for ADD was no longer working. After getting an adjustment in his meds, he was able to finish with three C’s in those classes where he had struggled. He has started his 8th grade off with all A’s and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
I felt pretty good about getting a teenage daughter through junior high, without many issues. I have tried to be up front and honest with her about the things she will be introduced to throughout her school years. I had pre-warned her about the possibility of boys asking her for inappropriate photos, and sure enough, her school was in the news, as police confiscated phones from 7th and 8th graders who were sharing these types of photos. I was happy to learn she was not involved. Now she is a freshman in high school. She has a good heart and she is beautiful inside and out. Just last week, I found out she has a “boyfriend,” who according to her, was a sophomore. I had a discussion with her regarding high school boys, dating, and my expectations.
The very next day, a family friend whose son attends the same school, called me and informed me my daughter is holding hands in the hallways with a Senior. His son had sent him a text about it. I spent the rest of the afternoon digging up as much info on this boy that I could. My daughter and I had a long night of talking that evening, with what I believe to be good results. I did have to ground her from her phone for lying to me, which she understood.
There are so many things that can cross up our children as they make their way through school, grade by grade. As parents, we have to give them room to learn and grow from mistakes, yet we have to constantly be aware and stay on top of things so we can keep them safe from the huge mistakes.
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
What happened on these dates in history?
March 22, 2002
August 1, 2003
February 4, 2004
March 21, 2006
If you said, “The starting dates of Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram”, you are either really tech savvy or the COOLEST DAD on Earth!
Every year new and upcoming companies try to start the “Next Great Thing” of social media. In addition, every time I turn around a new app or gizmo will keep me “Connected” with the world around me. All you have to do is start an account! How many accounts do you have? How many do your kids have?
As a technology director for a church and school, I have seen the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of social media. However, I believe it has a place in our society if used properly. It can be informative, educational, and even fun. So why does it sometimes get a bad reputation? Because nobody taught us!
Let’s look at it a different way.
How do we know that playing with knives could be dangerous? Because we have seen what can happen when someone is careless with a knife. Because we understand the dangers. Because we have learned from others. EXACTLY! We LEARNED from others; we were taught how to handle and use a knife properly. Moreover, if you are one who does not use a knife, then you choose to keep yourself away from potential harm.
When it comes to social media, we ALL are the teenagers. Our maturity and experience is only, at the most, 15 years old. We, ourselves, have not had a lot of time to learn from other’s experiences, to receive wisdom and knowledge from previous generations.
So how do we help our kids navigate the challenges of social media?
The education of “How to Use” social media is ongoing. We should be aware and proactive when it comes to helping our kids. Following are three items I like to share and discuss with my daughters and my students.
Josh Wanner is the father of three girls. He and His wife, Kari, live in Springfield, MO where he works as the Technology Director for Redeemer Lutheran Church and Springfield Lutheran School. He can be reached for question or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org