June is the time to celebrate Dad! In May, we honor our mothers with special art projects, activities, poems, and stories. However, we must not forget to celebrate the fathers and their contributions to children as well. Fathers have so many roles to play in the lives of our students. Their involvement is so critical to their child’s success. Studies have shown that when fathers are involved in their child’s education, the child performs better in school.
So whether you and your students are still in school around Father’s Day or not, make some time to recognize fathers in some special way with students, perhaps before summer break. Or share some of these ideas with your students through email or virtual platforms if school is already out for the break.
Father’s Day activities are also a great way to reflect on some pillars of social and emotional learning (SEL) such as, self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsibility, decision-making, and relationship skills.
It is important to note: All of the ideas listed below are great for children who have a normal, healthy relationship with their father. Even relationships that are far less than perfect can benefit from these kind words or activities. However, not all children are fortunate enough to have this kind of relationship with their father. Some may not even have a father in their lives.
Regardless of the age group, you will have students that either do not have a father involved in their lives or a father that is not an ideal example of fatherhood. We cannot simply brush over this and pretend that this problem does not exist. It does! And when addressing Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, that tough topic must be approached in a very careful and sensitive way.
As we know, developing genuine, meaningful relationships with your students is the key to success of any kind in the classroom. If you already have meaningful relationships developed with your students, which of course you will because this would be at the end of a school year, then you will know which students fit into this category. Pull those students aside before this project is introduced. Discuss their thoughts and feelings. There may even be some cases in which the school guidance counselor may need to be involved. If the situation is too extreme or painful, perhaps allow the student to skip this project or discuss other relationships with the child in order to establish whether there is another man in their lives that is a father figure. It could be an uncle, grandfather, older brother, teacher, coach, or principal. If they can recognize that there is someone in their lives that has influenced them the way a father might, have them do their project for that person rather than for a “father”.
Here are a variety of activities for all grade levels:
Project with Dad/Self-Management and Decision Making – Begin this activity with some brainstorming in class. Talk about things that students can do with their fathers that would be enjoyable while at the same time, would improve their lives or the lives of those around them in some way. Discuss ideas about what “quality time” means. Make charts of what is quality time and what is not quality time. Discuss screen time and how it inhibits communication. Then, students will use their decision making skills to create a list of activities that they and their dads can do instead of screen time in order to spend time together and do something productive. Students should take the list home and complete it by checking off each activity when completed. This also helps students exercise self-management skills.
Bring Your Dad to School Day/Responsibility – Plan a special day for dads at school. Students should be responsible for creating the plans, creating and sending invitations, preparing refreshments, etc. On this day, students could prepare performances for dad performing stories or poems about fathers. Students would also be responsible for greeting dads at the door, showing them, helping them find a seat etc. Jobs should be divided between students with either one student or a committee of students delegating and overseeing. This is a great way to honor Dad and learn what it is like to take responsibility for an event!
Jar of Encouragement/Relationship Skills
Again, for this activity, begin with brainstorming things Dad does for you, things you love about Dad, and things you like to do with Dad. Students should then make their own list of these things for their own dads. Ideally, students will have at least 30 items on their lists. This may take some encouragement, but the brainstorming activity should help. Each student should be provided with a jar. Then, provide students with materials to write each item on the list on a small piece of paper. Papers should be folded up and placed inside the jar. Then, students will give this to their dad and tell them to read one of the notes everyday for the entire month of June. This will melt Dad’s heart!
Plan an Activity/Decision-Making and Responsibility
Have students plan an activity to do with their dad on Father’s Day. Students should plan every aspect including budget. They should decide on an activity and make all arrangements. Remind them that a fun activity with dad doesn’t have to cost anything.
Letter to Dad/Relationship Skills
Begin this activity by brainstorming ideas about what dads do for children. Discuss examples of each idea. Allow students to tell stories about their own fathers and how they make their lives better. Talk about what their relationship with their father is like. Discuss ways that it could be better. Then, have students write a meaningful letter to their father communicating some of these ideas. The letter should include a salutation, an introduction about Father’s Day, a paragraph thanking him for all that he does, a paragraph telling him things the student wants to do to make improvements to their relationship, and a closing.
Provide students with a variety of materials for students to complete an abstract or collage art piece reflecting what their dad means to them. Students could include pictures, drawings, writings, poems, memories, to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art for Dad.
Implementing any of these activities can help students reflect on their relationships with their fathers and, hopefully, help them convey that love and appreciation on Father’s Day!