Serve up heaping spoonfuls of inner mush this Father’s Day

Dads. When we are kids they are every super hero rolled into one, just about larger than life, protecting, guiding, and challenging. They put together our bikes and teach us to get back on them when we tumble off. But fatherhood also has a softer side. Christopher Meloni, an actor perhaps best known for playing NYPD Detective Elliot Stabler on the NBC police drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for 11 seasons, has been quoted as saying, “The surprising thing about fatherhood was finding my inner mush. Now I want to share it with the world.”

Father’s Day is an outstanding time for every dad and anyone who is filling “dad shoes” to get in touch with his inner mush and share it. It’s no secret that moms and dads tend to bring different qualities to the parenting table. Though it surely doesn’t apply to every home or situation, as just one example, moms tend to worry more about safety and dads tend to be more about taking risks. What develops is a healthy balance of considerations and perspectives. A child learns to be competitive while also remembering to wear a helmet!

In an article titled “Father’s Role in Early Childhood Development,” by Louis Weiss, Ph.D., published on the Early Childhood Alliance website, Weiss notes that “The effects of father/child play have been shown to have long-range implications for cognitive and social development, problem-solving skills, reciprocity and turn taking, and encouragement to explore a broadening environment. In caregiving activities, such as feeding or bathing, men tend to engage in them as tasks to be accomplished, while women tend to approach such activities as opportunities for verbal interaction. The differences in such approaches seem to have a beneficial effect on children.”

When it comes to lifelong learning, parental unity can also be important. A post titled, "Why Dads Should Read to Their Children," on the Be a Good Dad blog suggests: “If mom thinks reading is cool, the kids might decide it is worthwhile. When dad also jumps on the bandwagon, the kids start to really think there must be something to this reading thing.”

Reading takes kids places, both literally and figuratively, and having Dad as a travel companion makes it all the sweeter. The Little Scholar® learning tablet designed for preschoolers, kindergartners, and first-graders, combines adventure and readiness skills in exciting new ways that dads—and the whole family—can participate in. For example, it provides real-life, get-out-there-and-experience-it lessons in episodes of Charlie & Company™. The show is an original live action and animated video series that teaches important skills in a variety of settings, including farm, fire station, symphony, and more. Three of the characters are now also available as high-quality plush toys for bedtime snuggling.

This kid-friendly tablet also includes e-books from the Start to Read!® series, also available in paper as an 18-book set with 3 read-along and song CDs. The stories are fun, easy to follow, and colorfully illustrated. The themes in them are familiar and relatable such as Peter’s Dream, revolving around the fantasy of escaping adult rules or Get Lost Becka!, humorously portraying sibling conflict.  Rhymes and repetition keep the stories light yet expand vocabulary and language skills. They make great read-out-loud experiences.

Also included on Little Scholar are a number of charming songs ranging from rollicking to comforting. What fun it would be for Dad to jump in with a playtime, bathtime, or bedtime rendition of ”Mighty Pirates,” “What Are You Scared of?” or “Blue Banana,” among many others.

So dads everywhere: pull out a tablet or flip open a book. Settle in with your kids for irreplaceable quality time, and free your inner mush! It’s a Father’s Day “gift to self” that your little ones will build on and remember.