Father’s day was celebrated on Saturday, 8th October 2022. Early Intervention services for children with disabilities or developmental delays are focused on being family cantered and is ideally carried over in home settings. Even so fathers are often left out of the process. It is usually the mothers who get involved in the day to day affairs of the child. To sensitize the fathers to the intervention being given to their child and to see the benefit the child accrues the fathers were invited along with the children to spend a day at the centre. Many of the mothers stayed back and sent the children with the fathers. However some of the mothers came since they had reservations about their husbands being with the children alone all day. 61 fathers came this year and made the meet a grand success.
At the stroke of 10 am the fathers, children and staff gathered in the prayer hall. At the outset Mrs. Vimala Kannan our Director welcomed the gathering and gave an introduction about the programme in detail. She took the audience through a narrative of how the day for their child starts with the Prayer, followed by Yoga, Therapies, IEPs and Group teaching. She explained every aspect in detail so that the fathers have a clear picture of how their child receives the intervention at the centre. She also explained the various projects that help the Early Intervention programme. All the Group heads and the Special educators were introduced one by one to the gathering explaining the roles they play in the life of the children.
This time MNC had planned a full day’s time table for the child with the father. The day started with Yoga, IEP, Activity Based Training, Group Activities, and Games and sports in the afternoon after lunch (outdoors in the front yard.) The class teachers took the children with their respective fathers to the class rooms by 10.30 am. First the children had their banana with the usual protein powder and this itself was new to the fathers. When they came to know that this is done daily they were surprised. This was followed by Yoga, and Individual Education Program where the father had to sit with the child and the teacher. IEP is the backbone of Special education as it allows room for the teacher to innovate the lesson as per the needs and capabilities of the child. This was followed by Group teaching when the fathers were observers of their children learning in groups along with other children. Group teaching sticks to one concept but different learning materials that suits the child. (Numbers could be taught with marbles or with a flash card depicting each number.) This was followed by Activity Based training where all the children participated in a single activity (finger painting, drawing with crayons etc). They took a break for lunch after this. The post lunch session was all games and different games like ringa ringa roses, letter for the postman etc. Circle games are wonderful for building confidence and making friends. Small children love holding hands and all falling down together and then jumping up again. These simple actions even appeal to the youngest children. The fathers had much fun running round with their kids.
A feedback meet was arranged when it was time to part. Many of them spoke frankly about how they enjoyed the day. When the fathers were asked at the end of the day how they felt, mixed emotions were spelt out. They said that they had not even imagined that a day with their child could be so much fun and educative. They were pleasantly surprised that the children actually liked coming to MNC and perform all these activities. Some of them said it was overwhelming and to think that our wives were doing this everyday was really surprising. They said ‘that in acting as carry over agents at home they understood that they must also play a vital role and support their wives’. Some of them were apprehensive about the future of their children. Their fears were allayed.