Dads have such an important role in helping raise readers and writers. Our three boys look up to my husband and follow every move he makes. They notice how he spends his free time. If they see him reading or writing, they pay attention. They notice and ask questions about the books he reads, and often times, when Dad reads, at least one of the boys grabs his own book and joins in.
We know that when fathers participate in literacy activities with and in front of their kids, it makes a real difference in kids' motivation and interest in reading and writing. This effect seems especially powerful for boys, but even for girls, dads involvement is key. For more on the research, click here or here or here.
What if Dad doesn't particularly like to read novels in his free time? If he subscribes to a sports magazine, reads the daily news online, or checks work email on his phone, he can make a point to occasionally talk with the kids about how he's using reading strategies in his everyday life. Here are some more suggestions from Reading Rockets.
My husband has two or three hours from the time he gets home to the time my kids go to bed. That's not a lot, considering we need to finish homework, eat dinner, take baths, and as our kids become involved in sports and other activities, that time seems to get cut more each year. I know lots of dads who get even less time in the evenings with the kids. Since there isn't much time, the dad/kid literacy bonding at our house is often short and sweet...
- My husband helps out with the reading routine at bedtime.
- He makes a point to talk to the kids about books.
- He keeps the book he's reading on the coffee table and he makes an effort to sit down and read it while the boys are playing. Even if they just see him reading for a few minutes, it's ok. They see him as someone who chooses to read for fun. They see him as a reader!
Next time I'll fill you in on the simple ways my hubby makes the most of that dad-directed literacy time.
Do you have some dad/kid literacy routines that you love? Please share!