One of the special roles we have as dads is in the area of helping our kids to learn. Research shows that when fathers are involved, children do better in school both socially and academically. When it comes to our children’s learning, dads have a unique ability to spark a hunger for creativity and discovery. We can open up the world in our children’s minds with our words, our presence, and our actions so that they see something new and enjoy things in a new way. The problem is, that life seems to smash the joy of learning out of most of us. Busy schedules can squash our children’s creativity. In the midst of the regular chaos we try to simply survive by going to work, getting our kids to whatever lesson, practice or program, and getting them back to bed. How can we help our kids to widen their eyes to the world around them and capture the joy of learning in the midst of it all?
First of all, are we still enjoying learning ourselves? When was the last time you watched a show that taught you something new or picked up a book that made you see the world in a totally different way? Capture that joy of learning for yourself. Kids notice a dad who is constantly nagging them to do their homework, but in their own lives have stopped learning long ago.
Second, don’t feel like you always have to hit a home run when you just need a base hit. We don’t always have time to take our kids for an hour long hike and amaze them with our knowledge of the woods, or sit under the stars and explain the mysteries of the universe. Sometimes, it can be as simple as pointing out the bees flying in and out of the flowers next to the McDonalds drive thru while you’re on your way to the millionth swimming lesson and asking them, “What are those bees up to?” Maybe while you’re running around Wal-Mart, point out what country a product has come from and ask them, “What continent is that country in?” It’s an amazing thing when kids can be awakened to the opportunities to learn through the world around them outside of the four walls of a classroom.
Finally, don’t stop Dads. Life is hard, life is busy, but the role of helping our kids to learn will make a rich legacy that will live on a very long time.
Dave Drabiuk is head of the Men's Program at the Belleville Pregnancy and Family Care Centre. All men are welcome to meet with Dave on Wednesdays. Men's Program runs 4pm-5:30pm every Wednesday. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.