Imagination meets reality. As we commend and encourage children for their learning and growth, our praise is bittersweet; part of us wishes they could stay this age forever.
Any attention, good or bad, affirms to children that they matter, instilling roots of self-worth that will serve them for the rest of their lives. Of their many needs, the greatest is for us to spend time with them. They might know how to read, but they still want dad to read with them. They may like spending time with friends, but they still want to know dad is nearby. They might know how to throw a football or do a cartwheel, but they still have more fun knowing that dad is watching.
Rules are Important
During the first two years of elementary school, children seldom tolerate any rule-breaking or any incidents of perceived unfairness. Indiscriminate tattling runs rampant, no one is spared: teachers, classmates, and even the household cat had all better obey the rules. If a child is losing friends for their constant tattling, we might instill one simple rule: “Unless you or someone else is hurt or about to be hurt, it’s a tattle and you will be the one in trouble: for tattling.” This can simplify things for the worried tattler who will learn to get along better with other children once relieved of the tattling burden.
Characterized by both capability and dependence, first and second graders are eager, impressionable, and excitable. Every child develops their own unique identity; some children are athletic, some are exceptional readers, and some can draw or paint beautiful pictures. Socially, children are starting to notice that people have different perspectives than their own. Often ambitious and motivated to learn, young children can be both highly competitive and easily embarrassed. This is the time when they start learning how to think logically, interpret cause-and-effect, and solve problems.
Once children start grade school, life moves faster. Daily routines can help normalize what seems to be an ever-changing environment. With the hustle and bustle of bus rides and after-school activities, let’s remember the primary worry of a child’s innocent heart, “Do I have dad’s attention? Does dad recognize my efforts, ideas, and accomplishments?” When we show interest in them, we encourage and inspire them.
It’s seldom best to do something for a child that they can do themselves. Once they’re capable, dad should encourage growing children to take leadership over certain tasks. By the age of six or seven, kids should be able to tie their own shoes, brush their teeth, take a bath or a shower, and do their homework. If they need a sandwich, they can make one; if they make a mess, they can pick up after themselves; if we ask them to bring in the mail or take out the trash, there should be no problem. Household chores build character.
At this age, vocabulary starts to develop rapidly. Conversations and eye contact help foster self-confidence as they find new words to articulate their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. When we read side-by-side with them, we can readily support their learning as they encounter new words.
By establishing healthy habits for our household, we can instill the routine of proactive self-care. Proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition are of crucial importance. Remember, more than anything else, young children love spending time with dad. We can suggest hiking, swimming, or going for a bike ride—most likely—they’ll be all about it! Plan healthy dinners and discuss the importance of nutritious foods, portion-control, and staying hydrated. Children should know when they pee yellow, it’s time to drink more water. A healthy rule of thumb—for all of us—is to drink one ounce of water for every two pounds of body weight every day.
Fathers Truly Matter
During the flow of daily life, fathers shape core values. Do we use optimism to paint the world in a positive light? Make things sound fun; children don’t need much convincing. Start each day with encouraging words. Every car ride offers a chance to teach and reinforce life lessons and help them discover ways to interpret motivations; their own and those of others. When we break bread together at dinnertime, intentional conversations might encourage them and build them up. When we tuck them in at night, words of assurance and heartfelt prayer can help children rest easy, filling them with gratitude, confidence, and love.
Their friends at school might start provoking conversations about sex. It’s ok to talk about marriage, conception, and the changes that happen during puberty. Some children ask lots of questions, some don’t. We can give simple answers, emphasize the importance of personal boundaries, and help them build self-confidence. Teach that touching should never be kept secret. Help kids feel comfortable coming to dad with any of their concerns.
This cannot be overstated: it is so important that we set and enforce screen time limits. Be aware of the content and platforms our children engage in to confirm they are appropriate. While they may know more about these devices than we do, they can be naïve about sharing with strangers online. It’s important to teach them to never disclose personal information.
As their father, we should encourage our children to ask us anything. If we don’t know the answer, help them develop the confidence to bring their concerns to God. Teach that faith in Jesus can transform the physical limitations of life on Earth into an unlimited spiritual eternity.
The clock is ticking on their childhood; make each day count. Our baby is growing faster than we ever could have dreamed. Day after day, week after week, year after year, time flies. Seize these moments and influence their future. Don’t blink; they’ll be in third grade tomorrow. Young children possess so much remarkable potential. By being aware, available, and supportive, fathers can make the most of the opportunities of youth.
Excellent Reading for 1st Graders
Miss Nelson’s class always acts up—especially when their teacher is absent from school! But after a week with their strict substitute, Viola Swamp, the kids can’t wait for Miss Nelson to come back. Full of tongue-in-cheek humor and silly illustrations, this is the ultimate back-to-school book.
Perfect for fans of Mary Poppins and Nanny McPhee, this classic series is all about learning and problem-solving. Young readers will love this book.
That one little dot marks the beginning of Vashti’s journey of surprise and self-discovery. That special moment is the core of Peter H. Reynolds’s delicate fable about the creative spirit in all of us.
Camilla Cream loves lima beans, but she never eats them. Why? Because the other kids in her school don’t like them. And Camilla Cream is very, very worried about what other people think of her. Shannon’s story is a good poke in the eye of conformity…and his empathetic, vivid artwork keeps perfect pace with the tale.
Nate the Great has a new case! His friend Annie has lost a picture. She wants Nate to help her find it. Nate the Great must get all the facts, ask the right questions, and narrow the list of suspects so he can solve the mystery.
Alexander could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. He went to sleep with gum in his mouth and woke up with gum in his hair. When he got out of bed, he tripped over his skateboard and by mistake dropped his sweater in the sink while the water was running. He could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always. At first a brand-new toy, now a threadbare and discarded nursery relic, the velveteen rabbit is saved from peril by a magic fairy who whisks him away to the world of Rabbitland. There, he becomes “Real,” a cherished childhood companion who will be loved for eternity.
A heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.
Waiting is a big part of childhood—waiting in line, waiting to grow up, waiting for something special to happen—but in this book, a child sets the stage and pulls the strings. This timeless picture book about imaginative play, the seasons, and friendship is beautifully written and deeply heartfelt.
This story about a game that comes startlingly to life is a family favorite that inspires imagination and explores the ever-shifting line between fantasy and reality.
Ira is thrilled about his first sleepover at his friend Reggie’s house, until his sister makes him question taking his favorite teddy bear! Will Reggie laugh at his teddy bear? Can Ira sleep without it? A hilarious back-and-forth ensues in this classic picture book about staying true to yourself.
E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come. Whether enjoyed in the classroom or for homeschooling or independent reading, Charlotte’s Web is a proven favorite.
Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change… and a great sacrifice.
On the first day of first grade, Sam is excited to share his news with the class. While some kids report losing a tooth or going to soccer camp, Sam tells the class that his elephant had a baby. “No way!” cry his classmates. “No one has an elephant.” Will Sam be able to convince his classmates that he’s telling the truth?
Excellent Reading for 2nd Graders
Boy and fly meet and so begins a beautiful friendship… and very funny friendship. Using hyperbole, puns, slapstick, and silly drawings, this easy reader is full of fun.
Armand, an old man living on the streets of Paris, relishes his solitary life in the beautiful city. He is happy with his carefree existence, begging and doing odd jobs to keep himself warm and fed. With simple pleasures and no cares, what more could he need? Then one day just before Christmas, Armand returns to his favorite spot beneath the bridge to find three cold and hungry children. Although he has no interest in children, Armand soon finds himself caring for the small family. It does not take Armand very long to realize that he must do whatever it takes to get them a real home.
Welcome to the story of a mouse named Despereaux Tilling, a rat called Roscuro, and Miggery Sow, a slow-witted servant girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other’s lives. What happens then?
These characters and their stories are timeless treasures of childhood that continue to speak to all of us with the kind of freshness and heart that distinguishes true storytelling. The perfect gift for holiday, to welcome a new baby, or for your favorite collector and book lover.
The Random House Book of Poetry for Children offers both funny and illuminating poems for kids. Featuring a wealth of beloved classic poems from the past and modern glittering gems, every child who opens this treasury will find a world of surprises and delights.
This happily ever after contemporary fairy tale is a twentieth-century classic that every child deserves to know.
In this imaginative adventure from Newbery Medal–winning author Beverly Cleary, a young mouse named Ralph is thrown into a world of excitement when a boy and his shiny toy motorcycle check in to the Mountain View Inn.
Foiling a robber, driving a car, squeezing into a tutu—is there anything the porcine wonder won’t do in her single-minded pursuit of treats, buttered toast, or just a rollicking fun time? And who knows what other adventures twinkle in her mischievous eyes? Here, for Mercy Watson’s loyal fans and new friends, comes a big fat paperback collection of pig tales that will have readers squealing with delight.
From bad moods to saving the world, solving mysteries to predicting the future, Judy’s many memories and moods provide hours of entertainment. Whether they’ve followed Judy for years or are encountering her for the first time, readers will get a thrill from this cool and colorful boxed set.
Perfect for kids who can read on their own but still need a little help… This Box Set contains five favorite giggle-sparking I Can Read stories.
James is a very picky eater. His dad has to get creative—very creative—to get James to eat foods he thinks he doesn’t like. He presents James with a series of outlandish scenarios packed with fanciful and gross kid-friendly details—like pre-chewed gum as an alternative to broccoli and lumpy oatmeal that grows so big it eats the dog—in an effort to get James to eat. But it is eventually James himself who discovers that some foods are not so bad, after all, if you’re willing to give them a try.
The timeless Little House series tells the story of Laura’s real childhood as an American pioneer. Offering a unique glimpse into life on the American frontier, these books tell the heartwarming, unforgettable story of a loving family.
A gentle, poetic story that lovingly depicts the special companionship of a young child and her father as well as humankind’s close relationship to the natural world. Wonderfully complemented by exquisite watercolor illustrations, this is a verbal and visual treasure, perfect for reading around and sharing at bedtime.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist. Some of the information in this post was inspired by Kristen Ivy and Reggie Joiner’s Parenting Your First Grader, and Parenting Your Second Grader available on www.parentcuestore.org