At Head Start, we read books in classes every day, but when Dads and other men come to read we celebrate! That’s exactly what happened at all five of the Head Start sites at Community Action of Orleans and Genesee on May 29th. One aspect that sets Head Start apart from more traditional child care/pre-school programs is the emphasis on parent involvement in the life of their child and the program. Our staff saw outstanding parent participation during an event for children and fathers (or Grandfathers or other male role models) at all of their sites in Orleans and Genesee Counties called “Real Men Read Day”. Over 60 men (primarily fathers) participated throughout the day. Head Start invited the men to come and read a book from the classroom or a story they brought from home or even tell a story. One of the children’s favorite experiences of the day was a great-grandfather in Batavia who not only told a story from his childhood but actively engaged the children by having them take part in the story. The men wore a button that said “I read to my child today” and were presented with a certificate that said “I’m a Superhero.”
The focus of Head Start is school –readiness and the premise is that the parents are the child’s first and most important teacher. Therefore, parents need to be actively involved in their child’s learning at all levels. In addition, many studies have shown the positive impact on a child’s development tin all areas when fathers as well as mothers are actively engaged with their child. Having this opportunity for fathers allowed them to meet other Dads, take part in the program for the day and spend time with other children as well as their own. Many fathers said how important the event was to them. One father said, “Days that are planned like this are important to any child’s reading and education. I love the idea and am glad I could be a part of it. Head Start has been a blessing for my son’s soul and educational development. Thank you!”
Organizing and carrying out a special event such as this takes team work from the entire program. The success of the program reflects well on the Leadership and staff who worked diligently to make sure this would be a wonderful event. At the close of the day, Pat McCall-Small, Family Community Partnership Manager said “Every person I talked to Teachers, Advocates, Cooks, Leadership people all said it was the best day. What a huge success! I saw real joy on everyone’s faces. Thank you to all!”
Head Start is a comprehensive early childhood program operated by Community Action of Orleans and Genesee serving children and their families from birth through age four. Services are available in both Orleans and Genesee counties for income eligible families. Head Start is currently enrolling children for the September 2014 program. Additional information, photos and testimonies from Dads can be found at www.caoginc.org. For information about enrollment in the program call (585) 589-5683.