Case study: Children’s centre Fathers’ Story Week celebrations

26 June 2014

Martin Andrews, dads support worker at Grandpont Children’s Centre in Oxfordshire, writes:

 

I organise regular fortnightly Saturday morning stay and play sessions with male carers.

We have worked with the Fatherhood Institute previously on making the centre more father-inclusive, so I thought I would share some details of the Saturdads event we held on 14 June, when the theme was Fathers’ Story Week (you can find out more about FSW here). This was also followed by a storyteller activity at a local primary school fete to encourage dads to get involved in reading with their child.

 

Fathers' Story Week at Grandpont Children's Centre

What we did on the day

1. The team discussed with the dads at the centre about The Fatherhood Institute’s campaign to encourage fathers to read with their children every day (Fathers Reading Every Day: find out more on the FSW website) and handed out free book resources.

2. We arranged a ‘storytime’ for the dads and children delivered by the local library service, using materials from Bookstart that were themed around ‘superheroes’.

3. We made ‘superhero’ cards by taking photos of the dads at the session and then getting the children to turn their dad into a flying superhero.

4. We asked them for ‘selfie’ photos to contribute to the Fatherhood Institute’s Facebook campaign (a photo album appears on the FI Facebook page).

5. We invited children to dress up in their superhero costumes and engaged with dads to talk about the ‘super qualities’ they felt were important as carers of their children.

6. We organised a Baby Club for Dads ‘stay and play’ before the main drop in to encourage male carers to attend with their babies.

7. We followed up the morning session with an additional storyteller activity organised at the local St. Ebbes Primary School’s afternoon Fete.

 

Who attended

At Grandpont Children’s Centres Saturdads 14.06.14:

  • We had 13 male carers, including 2 male carers with babies.
  • We had 18 children from 1-5 years and additionally 4  babies from 0-1 years.
  • We had 1 contact visit.
  • We also had an official male volunteer helping to gain relevant experience to facilitate his adoption application.

St.Ebbes School Fete 14.06.14:

  • We had a 1 hour session with a (male) storyteller delivered to approx 15 children, with 5 male carers present.

 

Feedback

“It helps being able to meet other dads who use the Centre. I might not have used the Centre as much if there had not been a dads group, It’s nice to have a friendly male environment, where the dads can develop at their own pace and get some tips and advice.” [male carer]

“It was good to see so many dads at the storytime session.” [library professional]

“I attend the Saturdads sessions and greatly look forward to playing with my daughter at the Centre.” [Separated BME carer]

“As a new father with a baby its been a real bonus having somewhere local that is so supportive and geared towards dads.” [male carer with baby]

“I thought the Baby PEEP session was very good. It covered lots of interesting stuff like Treasure Baskets, Books for Babies and singing which i can try at home.” [male carer with baby]

 

Next steps

To follow up with regular storyteller sessions at the Children’s Centre Saturdads events and try out some more of the literacy activities provided by the Fatherhood Institute, such as a Dads Map or Dads Favourite Story (some of the free activities available as part of Fathers’ Story Week, downloadable for free from the website).

To disccuss with St.Ebbes school a way to involve more male carers by organising another invitation for men to read with their children at school, such as a Dads Book Day.

To continue Baby Club for Dads including Baby Massage and PEEP postnatal sessions for dads which focusses on male carers singing, talking and bonding with their baby.

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