This Father's Day, if you build it (together), they will come…and spend quality time with you. That’s what Mark Frauenfelder relies on to connect with his daughters, and as Editor-in-Chief of Make: Magazine and co-founder of Boing Boing, this man practices what he preaches.
In a world run by smart phones, laptops and handheld gaming devices, he’s going analog on good old-fashioned family fun. To celebrate Father’s Day, we asked for Mark’s advice and perspective on spending time – unplugged – with your kids.
1. What does it mean to you to be a rad dad?
It means spending time with your kids doing stuff that you both enjoy. My daughters and I enjoy skateboarding together. We've made a few different skateboards and like to ride them down the path alongside the LA river. We also love painting together at the kitchen table. I buy lots of small canvas frames and let them use the same high quality paint I use when I paint. We have lots of our art around the house.
2. What's one of your most favorite unexpected teaching moments with your kids?
Whenever something breaks around the house (like a bike pump), instead of getting upset, we look at it as an opportunity to take it apart and see what's inside.
3. How do you know when kids are ready to try hands-on and DIY projects?
They’re ready at any age! Little kids can make animals out of polymer clay (which hardens when you bake it) and as they get older, you can teach them new skills. Jane (age 10) learned soldering last year and loves to make projects with printed circuit boards in them. When she was younger, she liked helping me pick the right resistors, capacitors, and other electronic components needed to make something. Electronic components are colorful and mysterious and kids are curious about what they do.
4. How does DIY and creative play help us connect to each other?
It's very rewarding to collaborate on a project or activity. We love sharing ideas about how to get something done. It's a great way to teach your kids about cooperation, compromise, leadership, following directions, defending your ideas and learning from your mistakes.
At Whole Kids Foundation, we practice two of Mark's tenets. We know table time with your kids is one of the best ways to increase their ability to learn at school AND that kids are more open to hard conversations about healthy lifestyle behaviors when they are engaging the left and the right sides of their brain. Creative play is the key to dynamic, fun learning.
To Mark and all the other dads out there unplugging to connect with their kiddos, pat yourself on the back with that homemade back scratcher. Happy Father's Day!
What are your favorite ways to connect your kids?