DaddyTeller

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Fatherhood: 7 Cheap or Inexpensive Ways to Spend Time with Your Little Kid

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Fatherhood: 7 Cheap or Inexpensive Ways to Spend Time with Your Little Kid

Yep, money is tight but that is not going to stop you from being a great dad. First off, since this isn’t 1950 any more, I don’t have to tell you how important it is for you to find time to spend being Dad with your kids and not at your kids, right? With that settled, here are some ways you can do several fun things with your kids that will cost you nothing or are otherwise very inexpensive.

1. Take a walk.
Go walking with your children around the block, around the park, around your back yard if you must. You will most likely need the exercise to get rid of your growing middle and your child needs to see something besides the TV or the back of your head while they ride in your car.

DaddyTeller.com  Go to the Zoo Fatherhood programs2. Go to the zoo (or something like that).
Get off the expensive and mind-numbing amusement-park daddy-go-round. There are affordable places (like museums and zoos) for you to go where your child can see new things, touch a turtle, make some pictures and hear a dinosaur’s roar or the like. This is a huge learning opportunity for your kid and most of these places are very affordable to visit. Super hint: many museums have monthly or weekly free-admission days. I know this will be hard for some dads who do not like to be in places like this. News flash: This is about your kids, not you and your boring man-world. With my kids now much older, I regret not having done more of this with them when they were little.

3. Eat in an interesting place.
Sure, the in-front-of-the-TV space has become the new kitchen table. Try having more meals at the dining room table. Then, get interesting and have a picnic. Make sandwiches, grab some chips and celery sticks and go sit somewhere to eat. The park or the tables outside the mall will work just fine. You are making memories here, dad. Warning: this is for your little kids. Do this outside the mall with pre-teens and you might die from the dirty looks they will give you.

4. Tell your kid a story. No books allowed.
Yep, put down that storybook and tell your kids some stories. Look your kid in the eye and tell them stories in your own way. You will bond with them and help them with their future literacy at the same time.

5. Do some full-body finger painting.
No little child can resist finger paint. On a warm day, grab some big pieces of paper, put out the cheap finger paints and go at the art-thing with your toddler. We found a roll of cheap paper at the teaching-supply shop and watched our kid paint up her body and roll about on the paper. Now we had huge art and great memories.

6. Wash your car.
Frankly, you could wash anything with rags and suds and your toddler or preschooler would be happy. Get out buckets, sponges, plenty of dish-soap and your grubby clothes and wash your car. Or a fence. Or your front door. Or your dog. Wet-laughing will ensue.

7. Make cookies.
In the old days, you had to know how to make cookie dough before you could bake cookies. If you know how to do make dough, that is all the better. Short of making dough, you can buy pre-made buckets of cookie dough at nearly any grocery store. Buy the dough and a few inexpensive candies or sprinkles and you have baking fun. When you are waiting out the baking times, do number 4 above.

There are many more ways to spend some inexpensive time with your kid. Your time shared with a child is more important than the money you spend in that time. Dive in now as they will be giant tweens before you know it. Then, you will need a new list.

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The author, Sean Buvala, has four children ranging in age from preteen to adult. He especially likes number four in this list (storytelling) as he is the author of the fatherhood training book, “DaddyTeller: How to be a Hero to Your Kids and Teach Them What’s Really Important by Telling Them One Simple Story at a Time.” You can get lots of free training videos and order the book at http://www.daddyteller.com. Or, follow his latest articles and vids from your perch at Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/daddyteller

Connecting Dads to the Literacy Process

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Can you teach literacy activities with men?

He was about 25 years old and had a four-year-old daughter. Young Dad’s question, asked to me in a low whisper, was a universal “Dad” question. Most Dads end up asking me this question in one of its many forms.

I had just finished a presentation for young college students who were studying to be teachers. We talked briefly about work in helping Dads to talk with their kids, to put the storybooks down, look their kids in the eye and tell stories.

In the session, most everyone else asked some type of question except Young Dad. When we were done and the group was leaving, Young Dad pulls me aside and says, “I have bought tons of books for my daughter and we read every night. And I already do some of the no-book storytelling. She loves it and will tell me some stories sometimes. But I still have this question in my mind, ‘What If I Do It Wrong?”

WIIDIW- the question dads always want to know. Men worry that if they don’t get it right something terrible and awful will happen. Or, they worried that they will be laughed at. He’s worried about being judged by his spouse. He’s worried that his kid will not like his storytelling because it’s not as energetic as what the child sees on TV. Alternatively, his own inner critic beats him up for every word stumble or verbal typo. WIIDIW looms in his brain and keeps him from doing the best with his kid. WIIDIW is the enemy of connecting cads to literacy.

So, if you are in a position in a school, Title 1 program or some other Early Childhood Education situation, here are a three tips to help Dads connect to literacy and get past the WIIDIW block.

1. Your program must have a clear, observable, measurable objective.
Do you want Dads to mentally check out of your program? If so, then advertise something ambiguous such as “Our program will discuss the research and history of literacy education and how it might effect the modern family.” Your program and outreach will do much better if you take a hint from marketers. “Our program on Wednesday will show Fathers three easy ways to help their kids get better grades in school – starting at bedtime that night.” You could try “Tonight’s Family Meeting program gives Dads three no-fail ways to be a hero in the eyes of their children.”

2. Your program must be fun for the participants.
Do you really want to reach men? I have sat in on my share of dry, lecturing, power-pointing family presentations given by poorly trained speakers. Yawn. The average guy wants a program that is not too heavy and lets him laugh off his nervousness. Be funny, genuine, succinct and focused if you want to talk to men about their families.

2. You must provided chances for Dads to succeed.
If you want dads to embrace your ideas, then give them ways to do some hands-on experience of storytelling stories and literacy. In my programs teaching dads my DaddyTeller process, fathers get to practice one story from my book. I tell (demonstrate) a short story, teach them to instantly learn the story and then practice telling it to each other in small groups. There will be lots of laughter and at times it will appear even a bit unfocused. But, after 30 minutes of this process, Dads have a story that they can then tell to their little ones that very evening. Give Dads success and immediate application. Just one “Daddy, I love that story you tell me about the mouse” will get him coming back to you for more help and information.

3. You must allow chances for Dads to ask questions privately.
For some men, information is power. They learned this skill back in their boyhood pack days. To ask you questions in front of a large group, tacitly admitting they don’t have information, can intimidate them. So, be sure you clearly state that questions can be answered afterwards- and then take the time to answer questions. Just like my experience I mentioned to you at the start of this article, you may have your own Young Dad lurking in your audience.

Men want to be good fathers and they want their kids to be successful readers, writers and problem solvers. Don’t give up on the fathers in your school, group or organization. Learning to speak to dads and breaking through the WIIDIW blocks will create new opportunities for promoting literacy in your community.

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Sean Buvala (contact him) is the author of “DaddyTeller: How to Be a Hero to Your Kids….By One Simple Story at a Time.” He is a nationally experienced workshop presenter (25 years!) who would be glad to come teach your teachers and staff how to connect dads to the literacy process. He will even come do a workshop for your dads, too. His man-size bedtime-stories nightgown is worth the fun.

DaddyTeller: Unplug Dad. Be a better father.

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Great article and a great find over this blog. In an article at Greenough.com, they discuss the need to “unplug” sometimes. I wrote this in their comments section:

It’s been time for parents (especially dads) to unplug for some time. It’s amazing what a difference 15 minutes a day of focused attention can make in the lives of our children.

Unplugging is not only from electronics. We’ve become dependent on things to make us better parents. Toys, storybooks, parenting videos, baby training stuff and more have been adopted by parents, replacing the chance to develop our innate parenting skills.

For some time, I have been encouraging Dads especially to disconnect a bit, learn a new to tell from their hearts and mind and truly engage their children. If you want you kid to talk to you at 13, you need to start telling them stories at 3.

As well, we need to teach our children to disconnect. There is great value in our technology but more and more, as I work with teens, they can’t disconnect from their electronic pacifiers. For a while it was .mp3 players, now it’s telephones.

Three cheers for unplugging adults! Put down the phone, the blackberry and the story book. Look your kids in the eye, reach out and touch them and tell them your stories.

They’ll answer back.

Free Video #3: Use Open-Ended Questions in Bedtime Stories

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Here’s another free, short training video on storytelling techniques for bedtime kids stories. This time, Sean talks about the use of open-ended questions to help your child think about the stories you are telling. Enjoy.


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Three Tips To Enjoy the “Father Role” in Bedtime Stories

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Are you part of the 45% of fathers who won’t do a very crucial parenting job? It’s a great “job” that is fun, increases their children’s school success and builds the important father/child relationship.

According to a May 2009 poll by the National PTA, nearly half of men surveyed report that they do not participate in the essential family ritual of bedtime stories. Hearing and telling bedtime stories helps children both bond with their parents and increase their school success. As well, surveys also indicate that children who have actively involved fathers do better in school and have less issues with drugs and alcohol as teens.

Sean Buvala, a professional national storyteller and author of the book “DaddyTeller: How to Be a Hero to Your Kids and Teach Them What’s Really Important by Telling One Simple Story at a Time,” shares these three tips to help dads be more involved in bedtime stories with their children:

1. Alternate between reading books and telling stories.

There is a great emphasis on picking up storybooks and reading stories to children. Reading to children is a good thing and should be part of every father’s daily (or at least weekly) plan. For an even bigger impact on your kids, put down the storybook and tell stories to your children. The DaddyTeller books contains eight stories and step-by-step directions to tell each story. Not only will you model communication skills for your children, but you will start developing an in-your-head collection of stories that you can share with them at a moment’s notice. As your confidence in storytelling and your story repertoire grows, you will be even more confident in participating in the important bedtime story ritual in your own home.

2. Make bedtime stories a two-way conversation.
In telling stories to your kids, they will start to learn the rhythm and flow of the stories you tell them. Learn to stop telling a story and ask, “What happens next?” Help your child to think about the future of characters in books or your oral stories. For example, in the “Lion and the Mouse” story by Aesop, ask your child to imagine and share with you how the Lion and Mouse might be friends in the future or to make up stories about where the mouse lives. You can download this story and instructions for free from www.daddyteller.com .

3. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Although storytelling is a powerful tool to help you child succeed in school and life, bedtime stories should be fun. Take the pressure off yourself to be a faultless parent in every breath and action you take. In the DaddyTeller book, you will learn just how and when to use a funny story.

You can spend lots of time learning to tell the perfect story perfectly, but in the end, the relationship you are building and the time you spend together with your kids is more important than perfect storytelling techniques. Some fathers will worry more about getting it right than getting in front of their children. Look your child in the eye and tell them stories. If laughing and giggling occurs, that is a good thing, too. Sometimes the “father role” is just being the giggle-man with the funny bedtime stories.

Dads! Don’t be part of the nearly 50% of fathers that miss one of the most important parts of their child’s lives and development. Share stories with your kids to improve their future!

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Sean Buvala is the author of DaddyTeller™, which teaches dads how to tell bedtime stories for children. You can find his book at http://www.daddyteller.com

3 Quick Ways for Dad to Communicate Better with His Child

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The world needs fathers. Study after study confirms the important role of the father in a family. Let’s improve your father-children relationship. Here are three quick and easy ways for Dads to relate better to their children.

1. Put down the distractions.
If you want to communicate better with your young kids, then learn to pay attention. Listening to a child while you channel surf, web surf or refrigerator surf is not really listening. Put down the remote or the mouse or close the ‘fridge door. Pay attention to what your child is saying. By the way, this rule changes a bit when your kids, especially your sons, are older. A great way to get your teens to talk is do a shared activity together. You’ll notice that I used the word “shared” in that sentence, right?

2. Look your child in the eye.
All the media your child is exposed to shares one thing in common: all of it has your child’s eyes and ears glued upon it. When you talk to your child, do you have their eye-contact? One of the greatest gifts we give to our children is looking them in the eye. Let them see you seeing them. Put down the storybook and tell them a story. Involve them in the tale. Advertisers are not hesitant to look your kids in the eye. You should do no less.

3. Make your child’s needs the priority.
As more and more dads, thankfully, become much more active in parenting, I read more about fathers who do not like kiddie things. I have read several posts, for example, about how some stay-at-home dads don’t like kid’s music and wish to substitute rock artists for kids musicians.

Although some of these daddy-blogger posts are written tongue-in-cheek, there is an underlying issue: kid things are not designed for dads. They are designed for kids. Don’t be in a hurry to bypass the usefulness of all the kiddie toys and noise that is out there.

The “Wheels On The Bus” song is driving you crazy? Let it make you crazy and let your kids listen to it a hundred times a day if they want. Raising four kids in our house, I can assure you that this phase doesn’t last long. Very soon, you’ll be dealing with the wheels on the car which is under your teen’s control as it is driven from your home.

The repetition of songs and stories is important for your child’s development and even future skills for learning and school. Be focused on what your kids need, not what you want.

In reality, all three of these ideas are really expressing the same need: Dads, give your kids the gift of your attention. You don’t need to be father of the year. You need to be the best daddy you can to your kids.

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Sean Buvala, father of four and a professional storyteller, is the author of the book “DaddyTeller™: Be a Hero to Your Kids and Teach Them What’s Really Important by Telling Them One Simple Story at a Time.” Get your copy by visiting http://www.daddyteller.com.

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