Did you know that spending at least five minutes each day with your children boosts academic and social interactions while also strengthening connections? As part of their 9th Annual Fathers in Actions & Advocacy Week, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Office of Communications and Community Engagement, in collaboration with the Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida, set aside an entire week from April 18th to April 22nd, 2022, dedicated to inspiring fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, and male mentors to participate in local schools.
Affirming Youth Foundation, Inc. was honored to participate in Fathers in Education Day to emphasize to the school community the value of fathers and male role models being involved in children’s education as well as all children in pursuit of valuable education. Executive Director Jonathan Spikes alongside Program Manager Ronald Mumford and Community Organizer Curtis Santos were found at Arcola Lakes Elementary School early in the morning reading well-beloved stories to the students, such as Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha (“The Beautiful Cockroach”) by award-winning author and storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy.
“It was a great opportunity to read to students in grades 1-3,” Mr. Mumford claimed when asked about his experience. “They were very receptive and engaged in the reading and activities. I thoroughly enjoyed being with them in person and look forward to participating again in the future.”
Mr. Santos also commented on the connection that was established during the couple of hours that were spent reading to the students and participating in activities such as drawing, “Fathers in Education Day was excellent, we connected with the kids and read to them. I would do this event again because it shows unity in and outside of the school.”
For others, the experience was a reminder of the importance of reading to our youth in their cognitive development. Executive Director Mr. Spikes, also a Doctoral candidate at Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California, mentioned how “recent research indicates that when fathers participate in their children’s education, their children perform better academically.” As a result, he is grateful for the opportunity to assist children and adolescents in developing and maintaining their well-being.
According to The University of Melbourne’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, the frequency of reading to children at a young age has a direct causal effect on their school performance regardless of their family background and home environment. In fact, reading to children at age 4-5 results in a significant positive effect on their reading skills and cognitive development (i.e., language and literacy, numeracy and cognition) later in life.
If the most effective period for cognitive skill investment by parents occurs early on in the life of their children (Cunha et al., 2006), take this as a call for all parents in the community to begin incorporating reading sessions into their daily routine, whether it be in the morning before school or the classic bedtime story. We must all play our part in affirming the youth in our community for a better future.
In the following set of pictures, you can see Mr. Spikes, Mr. Mumford, and Mr. Santos alongside Pastor Charles Dinkins of the Hosanna Community Baptist Church and Arcola Lakes Elementary School Principal Yolanda Ellis with the students.