Some days can feel like a whirlwind, rushing home from work, hurrying through supper, then heading off to the kid’s lessons, practices, or games. You might even return home just in time for the kids to go to bed! It can be challenging to stay on top of what your children are doing at school with so little time to spend together in the evenings. But even a little time together can go a long way.
Busy families have to be very intentional with their time. If you find your family feeling over-scheduled, take a step back and think about where you can create some down time. It’s not a bad thing for children to have evenings that are free from play dates, sports, and lessons. A free evening or two during the busy work week will allow you to talk with your kids in a place other than the car. Sit down and have dinner together then take the opportunity to ask your children about school. Avoid the typical “How’s school?” question that begs the inevitable response: “Fine.” Ask them about what they’re learning in math, who they played with at recess, what they did in gym class, or if anything funny happened today. Specific questions give you a better shot at generating conversation about their day at school, especially questions that avoid simple “yes” or “no” responses.
A quick yet very valuable way to involve yourself in your children’s learning is to read together. If you have a developing reader, listen to him read aloud, talk about the story together, and praise him for his efforts. Make this time fun and light. For all children, whether they’re reading independently or not, reading a story to them is of great value. Use a book your child has chosen at school or one you’ve picked together during a trip to the library or bookstore. Bedtime provides the perfect opportunity to snuggle up and read. And if you’re short on time, five or ten minutes is all you need.
Does your child love to draw? Is she really interested in bugs? Is he always building new creations? Tap into your child’s interests and take some time to get down on the floor (or grass!) and play together. Young children learn through play and having Dad alongside them makes it even better. Ask questions, experiment, let your child be the teacher, and have lots of laughs together. You might even discover that taking time to play gives you a much-needed break yourself!
It may take some scheduling but consider attending a school event with your child. If you can take an afternoon off work, sign up to volunteer for a field trip. If there are special presentations going on in class, plan to drop in. Maybe your child is involved in an after-school event, like a science fair or arts night, having Dad there to see her shine is a great way to be involved with school and to spend time together.
Working dads may feel the crunch of trying to stay on top of everything going on in their children’s world. It’s important to keep in mind that when your days and evenings are busy, even just a little time spent together goes a long way for your child. In between the summer vacations and the weekend outings are the small moments in day-to-day life. Don’t forget to live the small moments. They matter. A lot.
Brought to you by: NOGGINSLAND
Written by: Erin Agnello
Edited & Designed by: Jamie Schmalenberger
Images by: Freepik
My name is John Haber. I’m a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the founder of Nogginsland. I became a COTA in 2003, and then went back to school much later, receiving my Master’s Degree in OT from Mercy College in New York in 2016.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a variety of populations in different settings, from school districts, to developmental disability centers, to children’s hospitals.