This week we are delighted to introduce our guest blogger, Ben Yeo to discuss the great work done by The Fatherhood Institute and their national initiative, Fathers' Story Week.
My name is Ben and I lead the Stepney Partnership , a partnership of five primary schools and a secondary school in Stepney, East London. We run a variety of family programmes to get our mainly Bangladeshi parents more involved in their children’s learning.
Ben Yeo (far left) leader of the Stepney Partnership.
I probably don’t need to tell you that primary schools are female dominated! As a man working in a primary school I experience this, but also many dads tell me they can feel uncomfortable with the gender imbalance, one Dad even told me he felt ashamed walking through the corridors! Often when we run parent or family sessions – only Mums turn up.
So it has been so valuable for our schools to get involved in Fathers' Story Week , a national initiative that Ladybird Books is supporting. The event is designed to get dads more involved in schools and takes place across the country in the week leading up to Father’s Day (13-19 June). It is organised by The Fatherhood Institute which is a charity and think tank which collates research on fatherhood, shapes government policy and helps services to be more dad inclusive.
Fathers' Story Week 2010
There is loads of research to prove just how important dads can be on having an impact on their children’s learning; research has shown that positive engagement between father and child is linked to higher IQ at age 7 and 11, and better exam results at 16 and also that fathers exert greater influence than mothers on boys’ educational choices.
The Fatherhood Institute organises Fathers’ Story Week so that schools (and other organisations such as children’s centres, nurseries, libraries etc) can positively engage children and their dads in specific activities together. The activities taking place this year include a paper aeroplane challenge, a readathon and dad’s sporting challenge. Free resource packs for these activities are available on the Fathers' Story Week website and have been designed by teaching professionals in line with National Curriculum. Ladybird have also provided free Read with Daddy Pig resources that should delight younger participants who are Peppa Pig fans.
Lots of fantastic paintings of great dads!
At the Stepney Partnership, we organised Fathers' Story Week last year with great success, and we are already planning our activities for June.
Though the name of the event is Fathers' Story Week, it has been a challenge for us to get our fathers, who are 95%+ of Bangladeshi origin, to feel confident to engage specifically in their children’s reading (we could write a book on that!). So last year, we ran a wide range of activities to get dads excited about coming into school – paper aeroplane making competition, a Dad’s Olympics, portrait painting, board games sessions. We even had a ‘family homework’ which was themed all around fathers and male role models.
A very proud dad!
Fathers' Story Week 'Dad's Olympics' event in Stepney 2010
In one of our schools, over 100 fathers turned up to Fathers' Story Week last year! In my experience, once they are invited, fathers are really enthusiastic about getting involved. We have seen how over time there has been a more visible presence of dads in my schools – more fathers dropping off and picking their kids, turning up to parent events and school trips. And the research tells us that this increased participation from dads will help our children do better at school.
Fathers' Story Week is not just for schools – it is for pre-schools, children’s centres, libraries, even prisons have signed up. Visit the Fathers' Story Week website to register to take part and get inspiration and free activity packs to get dads involved. This year’s event will be raising money for The Fatherhood Institute and Barnados – specifically to help support families with fragile father-child relationships, so your participation will help vulnerable families as well as your own school.
Of course, not every child has a dad in their life but uncles, brothers, godfathers and family friends can also join in. If you would like to get involved in this year's Fathers Story Week, sign up now. It's great fun and an inspiring event.