“Choo-choo-wa! Choo-choo-wa! Choo-choo-wa-wa-wah! The words — the theme song of a children’s cartoon — were being bellowed by six grown men huddled on a makeshift stage in a hotel banquet room. The song leader, an education specialist, held up a baby rattle. “What can we do to encourage play?” he asked the all-male audience. “Give them alone time,” one man offered… “Have stuff around that they can interact with,” a third suggested. All were correct. And why wouldn’t they be? They were stay-at-home fathers observing a presentation on children and play.” J. Bennett, New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: The Brotherhood of the Stay-at-Home Dad By J. Bennett, New York Times
“The men are part of a group called the National At-Home Dad Network, which on an early fall weekend had gathered here for an annual retreat (and a rare night without the kids). The men — 100 in total — had traveled from all over: the Midwest, Canada, Washington State. Over two days, they would attend a workshop on seatbelt safety and bro out at a Colorado Rockies game. They traded recipes — Tex-Mex spaghetti squash, lentil soup, piled into a box in the lobby — and asked questions of a panel of working women. (“Is it weird when your husband gets you a gift with your own money?”; “Who handles your finances?”) The men exchanged email addresses and made plans to meet up in playgrounds across the country. By Sunday, they left, as the convention organizer put it, “better men, better husbands, better fathers.” It was the largest gathering of stay-at-home fathers ever, according to the organizers. Some may wonder why fathers need a convention at all. But these men said the answer was simple: They wanted other dads to talk to.
At-home mothers have every support resource in the book, as well as a changing vernacular for how to refer to them (they too are “working moms”). Yet when it comes to dads who are the primary caretakers of their children — a group that is growing swiftly, both in size and visibility — the resources remain dismal. Few books. Fewer community groups. There’s no history, no social structure, no guidebook. A guy jumps into this blind.
And yet, he is also more visible than ever. According to a June study by the Pew Research Center, stay-at-home dads now account for more than 16 percent of at-home caretakers, a number that has more than doubled over the past decade (and still does not factor in dads who work part time)…
There’s been a feeling for a long time that dads are not capable, that if dads are in the home, moms are still directing, that dads are not interested in that caretaker role… That doesn’t jibe with what we see every day… For its part, this dads’ network is working to change the stigma.
Mr. Harrington, of Boston College, recalled a story from a few years back in which a man he knew — carrying his baby snuggled under his jacket on a cold day — emerged from a park trail to a circle of police officers because he looked suspicious… The good news is that the culture has started to catch up. Companies like Facebook and Change.org are among a group that have begun to offer generous paternity leave policies, and as a 2014 survey of dads revealed, 89 percent said it would be an important criterion in looking for a new job.”
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video clip.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Have students examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of words and ideas that they think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading Tasks
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Over two days, they would attend a workshop on seatbelt safety.
- Is it weird when your husband gets you a gift with your own money?
- The men exchanged email addresses and made plans.
- Some may wonder why fathers need a convention at all.
- At-home mothers have every support resource in the book.
- Yet when it comes to at-home dads the resources remain dismal.
- He isn’t a product of the recession.
- There’s been a feeling for a long time that dads are not capable.
- That doesn’t jibe with what we see every day.
- Mr. Frank surveyed 371 men who said they were the primary caregivers to their children.
Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.
- The National At-Home Dad Network is a convention for a group of men.
- The men had traveled only from from the Midwest to attend.
- According to the organizers it was the largest gathering of stay-at-home fathers ever.
- Stay-at-home dads have as many resources as at-home moms.
- The men who attend these workshops have many children at home.
- There has been a general feeling that dads are not capable to care for children.
- This dads’ network is not going to change the stigma about at-home dads.
- Robert Frank began the National At-Home Dads Network two decades ago.
- Over the next two years, Mr. Frank surveyed 371 men who said they were the primary caregivers to their children.
- A couple of years ago, many men found an ad for Gerber’s baby food offensive.
Directions: The following sentences are from the article. For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices presented.
Prepositions: over, in, from, on, to, into, by, at, as,
- The men 100___total had traveled ___all ___.
- They wanted other dads ___talk___.
- ___two days, they would attend a workshop ___seatbelt safety.
- They traded recipes piled___ a box in the lobby.
- ___ no means are single-earner households the norm ___this country.
- Before the days of Google, their existence spread ___word of mouth.
- He said he rarely gives interviews ___the subject.
- Men who talked about being a parent___work were viewed ___both lesser workers and lesser men.
III. Post Reading Tasks
Reading Comprehension Check
Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea
Directions: Have students use this graphic organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist them with discussing or writing about the main points from the article.
Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.
1. The following three statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each one, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.
“At-home mothers have every support resource in the book, as well as a changing vernacular for how to refer to them (they too are “working moms”). Yet when it comes to dads who are the primary caretakers of their children — a group that is growing swiftly, both in size and visibility — the resources remain dismal. Few books. Fewer community groups.”
“You’ll hear many guys describe it: I’m alone on an island in a vast sea… There’s no history, no social structure, no guidebook. A guy jumps into this blind.”
“The good news is that the culture has started to catch up. In April, Daniel Murphy, the Mets second baseman, ignited a fury of radio chatter after missing two games to be at home with his wife and newborn son. When the chief executive of a software firm announced that he would step down this year to spend more time with his family, he noted that, ‘As a male C.E.O., I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never how I balance the demands of being both a dad and a C.E.O.”
2. In your opinion do men make good stay-at-home dads? Provide reasons for your answer.
Main Idea / Debate
Directions: Divide students into two teams for this debate. Both teams will use the article and additional sites from the web as their source of information.
Team A will list five reasons for stay-at-home dads.
Team B will list five reasons against stay-at-home dads.
Each team will have time to state their points of view, and the teacher decides which team made their points.
For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer from Freeology.