University of Illinois Extension
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Involved Dads=Happy Kids

When fathers are actively involved with children, everyone benefits. Children have better relationships with other children and perform better. Father's feel better about themselves and their lives, too.

Although mothers have usually taken the lead in their children's day care and preschool programs, now is the time for men to join in. It takes moms, dads and the early childhood programs working together to make Dad's involvement a reality.

A preschool child might offer the following advice to encourage Dad's involvement:

To Dad:

  • Don't just play with me after dinner; make my dentist appointment and check my backpack before we leave for day care.
  • If you want to know why I act like I do, learn more about preschoolers by reading, taking a workshop, or visiting with other parents.
  • Remember that the small, daily rituals and routines that I share with you are as important as occasional "big deal" events.
  • Get to know my childcare provider or preschool teacher.
  • Stop and visit me. See how I play with the other kids and the things I do while I'm in daycare.
  • Volunteer to help. I would be so proud if my dad helped build the new sandbox.
  • Talk to me about my day when you pick me up. Recognize if I'm too tired to talk and let me know that's okay, we can catch up later.

To Mom:

  • Remember he's Dad, not your assistant, so you don't have to give step-by-step instructions.
  • Give him control over how some things are done, don't assume you can do it better.
  • Be willing to let Dad comfort me when I am sick or hurt.
  • I benefit from Dad being involved, and it gives you a break also.

To My Child Caregiving or Preschool teacher:

  • Just because I live with Mom doesn't mean I don't have an involved dad or father figure.
  • Make my dad feel welcome when he comes with me. Provide a "big" chair to sit in and talk to him about how I'm doing.
  • Don't remind me to "tell my mother" to sign my field trip form. Dad can sign it also!
  • Invite my Dad or male role model to participate in specific ways.
  • Host a dad's night for the children's fathers to get acquainted with staff and one another.
  • Ask dads to go on field trips.
  • Encourage dads to be guest speakers or pitch in to help.

Involvement of both mothers and fathers in early childhood programs has positive outcomes for children, families and the programs. If everyone works together, dads can be actively involved. The results are certainly worth the effort!