Once a month at John Harris Elementary School, fathers work with their children on being an “All Pro Dad.”
For one hour each month, dads and other important male figures in a child’s life, like grandfathers, brothers or mentors, join their children at school on Friday mornings to eat Flyboy donuts and fruit, drink coffee or milk and make memories.
The All Pro Dad meetings help dads and kids spend quality time together and strengthen their relationship, while engaging in meaningful conversations and activities centered around a character-based curriculum.
All Pro Dad has been at John Harris since at least 2017, and has been in other various schools in the Sioux Falls School District, including Laura Wilder and RF Pettigrew elementary schools and Patrick Henry Middle School, since 2010, district spokeswoman Carly Uthe said.
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Charlie Nesdahl, team captain for John Harris Elementary School, leads the father-child pairs in discussions around a major topic. Last month, they worked on the topic of community; this month, they spoke about respect.
Dads start off by introducing their kids to the other dads at the table and telling them what made them proud of their child or children recently.
They watched a video on the topic of respect, and Nesdahl then compelled them to discuss respect with each other.
Dads asked their kids what it looks like to be respected, and why it’s important to treat others with respect. Kids asked their dads how important it is for them to be respected, and in what ways they make their dad feel respected.
Kids then wrote about different ways they would respect different people in their lives, like parents, siblings, adults, friends and teachers, for example.
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From there, there’s a little more discussion, then dads walk their kids to their classrooms before their first class starts for the day.
“It gives you a chance to be with your son, connect with others, learn life skills together and be there for each other,” dad Troy Weiland told the Argus Leader.
Troy and his son Ezekiel, 8, said they like attending All Pro Dad events to learn life skills together. Ezekiel said he loves the donuts at the event, and likes wrestling with his dad.
“It’s an opportunity for our kids to realize how we want to be involved in their life, and that we’re willing to take the time” to be with them, Troy said.
Lee Underberg and his son Judd, 8, and daughter Bree, 9, attended All Pro Dad for the second time Friday morning. Lee said the trio likes eating donuts together and spending time with their friends at the All Pro Dad meetings, along with learning the lesson.
Principal Kersten Dobberpuhl said she likes All Pro Dad because it gets more people into the John Harris Elementary School building to see all the great things that happen in the school.
“It gives them a chance to connect with their daughter or son,” Dobberpuhl said. “Male figures are such a big thing. Moms are very actively historically involved with children… to get dads into the building is another way.”