Activities for Fathers and Children – Let's Communicate!
This section provides a variety of activities that fathers can do to communicate and enhance language with their children. Have fun and concentrate on communicating!
- Imitate your baby’s happy sounds. If she or he coos, coo back to him or her. Take turns, like a real conversation. Babies will tell you when they are done by looking away or falling asleep. Let her or him know where you are and where you are going. “Daddy is going to find a clean diaper in the bedroom. I will be right back to change you.” Talk to your baby about what is going to happen next. “You have some milk on your chin, I am going to wipe that off for you.” Talking during care routines helps the baby anticipate what is happening and teaches him or her words that he or she will use in a year or two.
- Do “This Little Piggy Went to Market” at changing time or other times. This little piggy went to market (gently wiggle the big toes). This little piggy stayed home (gently wiggle the next toe).
- This little piggy ate roast beef (gently wiggle the next toe). This little piggy had none (gently wiggle the next toe). This little piggy went wee, wee, wee, all the way home (tickle under the chin).
- Babies are frightened of loud, sharp noises. Around three months, the baby will enjoy listening to or watching a rattle or shaker type baby toy. He or she will not be able to use it alone with much success yet. Young babies have a hard time letting go of a toy once it is placed in their hands. Shake a rattle and watch your child’s reaction!
Read a baby picture book to your child at least once a day as a part of your “father time” routine.
Older babies like to follow simple instructions and play games. For example, pretend you’re the “tiger” and ask, “Can you find your tiger?” Then, “Give the tiger a big hug.” End with, “Grrrrrr, the tiger likes his hug.”
- Around 15-18 months, many young children begin to cling to their parents. This has been called “velcro time” by some language specialists. These specialists feel that children this age hang on tight to their parents to watch their mouths move and pick up on sounds. In other words, to study how to talk. Pick up your baby when she or he wants to be held. You are the teacher, after all, and your mouth is the chalkboard. Children need to see your face to figure out how to imitate words. Hold your child up to a mirror. Make faces, talk and sing to your child while looking in the mirror.
- Find a jack-in-the-box or other hand-crank music box. Dig in the cupboards for a pots-and-pans band. Safety first, of course! Read books together. You will have the favorites memorized in no time. Let your child see you reading for enjoyment too.
Take a tape recorder with you while you run errands today. Tape interesting sounds to play back later. For example, record the car engine starting, cash register, radio, gas pump, birds, emergency vehicles and the like. Can you identify all of the sounds together? Also, take the tape recorder on a “listening walk” with your child. Tape record your footsteps on the cement or gravel, the squeak of stroller wheels or the sound of a bird singing. Older preschoolers and kindergarteners will delight in getting notes from you. Write out something in pictures with the words underneath. A picture of an eyeball, a heart and a U will tell the child “I love you.”
- Don’t wait until you leave town to write home. Leave a note by the child’s place on the breakfast table or in his or her backpack. An adult can help by reading the words if the pictures are not understood. Dads who are not living with their children need to take special care to connect with both verbal and written communication. Send pictures and letters with self-addressed stamped envelopes so your children can send you their drawings and letters too. Set up a time to talk on the phone often and never break that date! Write e-mails. Send videos of yourself. Make tapes of your voice reading books and singing songs and telling stories. Send faxes. Do what you can with what you have to keep in positive contact with your child. Tips for communication from a distance can be found on the “Dads at a Distance” web site at www.daads.com.
Reprinted with the permission of North Dakota State University.
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