GO PLAY! Thoughts from the Fatherhood First Project in Rapid City, SD

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Publication Date
April 18, 2012

For the last three years, The Fatherhood First Project in Rapid City, S.D. has been tasked with getting dads more involved in Head Start and Early Head Start programming. This has been accomplished by Fatherhood First Specialists:

  • Working one-on-one with Head Start and Early Head Start dads facilitating one-on-one activities between the dads and their kids, helping them understand the value of play time with their kids.
  • Hosting Father/Child activity nights where Father’s eat dinner with their kids and then everyone participates in a special activity designed to highlight dad’s strength of play.
  • Conducting training for community based organizations on the important role that dads play in the development of their children raising awareness on the importance of fathers helping breakdown individual bias and preconceived opinions about fatherhood.

Through all these events, we are working in our community to redefine and, most importantly, celebrate fatherhood.

We have found that the vast majority of dads we work with want to be involved. They are excited to have special events for just them and their children. They want to understand more about what their child is learning while they are playing. They love becoming more involved.

The challenge we issue the dads in our program is the same challenge I issue all parents: Go play. Get on the floor. Sit at the table. Grab some blankets to build a fort. Grab a doll. Go outside. Go play. Playing offers so many opportunities for dads to talk to your kids about a variety of issues like morality, fairness and courage. In most cases, it is a no cost activity. Most importantly, playing is fun!

Now I know firsthand that this can be easier said than done. We work. We are tired. Sometimes it is hard to find the energy but we have to do it. Our time with our children is far too short and we need the make the most out of it.

Playing doesn’t scratch the surface of what fathers do but it is one of the things that we, as dads, do best.

Bob Burke is the Fatherhood Program Coordinator for Youth & Family Services in Rapid City, SD