Report on classes completed: Dads and Lads Summer 2007

Clare Family Learning Project plans organised a pilot programme aimed specifically at Dads/Male Carers and their children using a sports and games approach. It is widely accepted that it is difficult to engage fathers in family learning programmes internationally.

Aims of Dads and Lads

  1. To encourage boys to get interested in reading using sport topics.
  2. To encourage use of local library.
  3. To encourage Dads and Lads to read together, increasing parent and child interaction time.
  4. To have time together doing fun activities.
  5. To have Dads role model being a learner for their child.
  6. To promote the notion of lifelong learning: Boys are not doing as well as girls in the Irish education system.

Ennis Dads and Lads Attendance Records

Sessions 1 2 3 4
Topic Soccer Sports Quiz and Games Computers and Photographs Bowling
Venue Community Centre, Ennis Community Centre, Ennis Adult Education Centre, Ennis Ennis Leisure Centre
Date 16/4/07 23/4/07 1/5/07 8/5/07
Numbers Attending 5 adults
6 children
4 adults
6 children
4 adults
8 children
5 adults
8 children


Session 1:  Soccer, Choose a Sports Book

5 adults and 6 children attended. Meeting first in the Community Centre, boys selected a book while they were waiting for others to show up. Each signed in, introduced themselves to each other and put their names on stickers.

Slow to attend, a lot of interest by young boys, but they had no adult with them so they couldn’t play soccer. It was very well managed by the tutor, who grouped the participants into 2 teams, Reds and Blues. We mixed Dads and Lads on each team. Adult education male staff member also attended as referee, the tutor joined one team to balance numbers.

The match played 15 minutes per side with a short break for a drink of water at half time. The weather was lovely and bright, if a bit chilly.

We headed back into the Community Centre after the match, with the Red team having won, 5 goals to 4.

After some healthy snacks, mandarin oranges, apple juice, Figrolls, Jaffa Cakes and water, the tutor spoke about the foods the Clare Hurling Team would snack on (as above) and the need to replace lost energy quickly after a match. What foods to avoid and foods to give you energy.

We distributed the cameras for the Dads and Lads to use over the next week, photographing what they like about where they live. Everyone went home very pleased.


Session 2:  Sports Quiz and Games

4 adults and 6 children attended. Meeting was held in the Community Centre, one of the Dads is vice Chairperson of the Hall committee and has access to the key, which is very helpful. The heat was on and the room was very comfortable. We held four rounds of sports quiz with a break for Egg and Spoon Race and Blind man’s Buff, the latter involved scattering spot prizes (from the €2 shop) around the large hall when lads were blindfolded, and the Dads gave each son instructions on where to find a prize. A lot of confusion and fun resulted. A number did not understand the difference between right and left! Need to prepare them in the future. Everyone succeeded in getting a prize. We went back to the quiz and finished the rounds off.

The tutor had printed off a picture of a hurler, for the lads to colour in at home, the project funded a set of colouring pencils for each child. They are going to colour the hurler and do a background for him. These will be judged and a prize: a hurley signed by all the Clare Hurlers will be given as a prize to the best picture. There is room to complete the background as they like.

The Quiz was very popular. People were comfortable in saying ‘I don’t know how to spell peoples’ names’ etc. Some of the rounds were images only, some were multiple choice, while others were write the answer, to give everyone a chance.

When the quiz was over we had bananas, Jaffa cakes and Figrolls biscuits with apple, orange juice or water. We collected 3 cameras and one came into the school during the week, which I collected and got developed. Overall there was a good feeling of togetherness, and a good atmosphere in the group. People went home very happy.


Session 3: Computers and Photographs

4 adults and 7 lads arrived at the Adult Education Centre. Full attendance today and the group were very eager and interested in their new surroundings.

The Guidance Counsellor showed them around the building and gave out brochures about the Clare Adult Guidance Services. He spoke about what courses are available in the Ennis area at present.

The English language Coordinator who stayed with this class, had Room 17 open and computers ready for the group. The main tutor also attended. This session included production of scrapbooks about their area, using photographs the Dads and Lads had taken over the previous week. Those without photographs, used brochures and maps of Ennis from the Tourist Office, as well as downloading images from the internet, to create a scrapbook about their area.

Images were stuck into the books, while captions were printed off to match these.

There was great enthusiasm within the group, with a sense of purpose and the time flew by.

At the end of the session the scrapbooks were left on the tables for others to view and admire each others’ work and to get more ideas to complete their scrapbook at home.

One boy brought his camera with him and he can get the photographs next week to put into his scrapbook, he prepared his captions in advance.

Six of the boys brought their coloured in Hurler. It was a difficult decision to pick one, so we decided to give two prizes, as the top two were very close. First prize was a hurley signed by the Clare Hurling Team with a sliotar, second prize was a football.

We moved to the canteen for a healthy snack: pure fruit juice, mandarin oranges, Figrolls and Jaffa cakes, with water, tea or coffee as alternative options. It was a very enjoyable evening overall, with lots of momentum and interest.

Update on reviewing work to date: 1.5.07.

Spoke with my Adult Literacy Organiser about the third session being so successful. She feels why not continue the classes if there is interest, especially with computers (possibly do a story for Simply Said) or art and have a drumming workshop at the end. We will ask the group what they would like to do and if they would like to continue for 4-5 more weeks.

We will offer an evaluation sheet next week at the bowling session and see what the feedback is.


Session 4 Bowling

This session was held in Ennis Leisure Centre, we were allowed to bring in our healthy snacks with us. Five adults and eight children attended. This was two more than when we started. Activities have shown that retention of numbers is possible with an attractive programme that reaches the most disadvantaged.

There was an air of great excitement with the arrival of the participants at the Leisure Centre. Everyone was punctual and an effort made to look smart.

People while waiting for shoes, signed in and started to complete the evaluation forms.

The tutor attended to organise and supervise the groups. He divided participants into three groups: two with children and one adult group.

Some of the group had been bowling before and understood how it worked. Others were told by the group members what happens with the score, and everyone could see from the overhead digital display how everyone was doing.

Healthy snacks: apples, apple and orange pure juice, water, Jaffa Cakes and Figrolls were available for energy during the session.

Throughout the evening there were opportunities for chatting with each other, praise for the good shots and support for the bad shots, which was very nice to see within the groups. There was a lovely, special atmosphere as the groups played together.

When the time was up, the tutor collected the score sheets from the desk. Prizes were given to the top three scorers amongst the children: two footballs and a donated Clare Jersey. Others got consolation prizes: Bingo game, sweatbands for the wrist (these proved so popular, one of the football prize winners wanted to swop his prize for one!)

The Dads had to guess a number between one and five to win their prize, a game of Boules.

The tutor had contacted the Irish Heart Foundation and got a pedometer (at €2) for each person. These were given to everyone, and they were quite impressed with them. Dads and Lads can compare how much walking they do each day, and it’s a way of continuing and encouraging activity after the programme is finished.

Certificates of attendance were presented to the participants and photos were taken.

The evening was a great success, people went home happy, with the option of continuing on in the near future depending on the evaluation sheets.



Everyone completed an evaluation sheet, some Dads and sons completed their sheet together.

Five enjoyed bowling best, five enjoyed soccer best, while two enjoyed everything.

No-one felt there should be any changed made to the way the programme was organised. Suggestions for additional activities if it was to run again included: a winter programme, More GAA activities and Drumming.


Choice of Options for future sessions:

2 – Computers

1 – Computers and Maths

5 – Woodwork

5 – Stained Glass

1 – Fun Science

5 – Nature Out and About

1 – Art

2 – Cookery

Own suggestions: Kite flying, drumming and soccer.



Need to check if insurance cover for Lads attending with Dads in Woodwork or Stained Glass classes.

Nature Out and About was also of equal popularity.

With three options to follow up, with a lot of interest in bowling, soccer and GAA.

Possibly plan for a five week session, starting next week:

1 soccer, 1 nature, 1 woodwork, 1 stained glass taster and 1 drumming to finish up?


Possible dates:

Mondays 14, 21, 28th May, and Tuesday 5th June (Monday is Bank Holiday), and Monday 11th June.


Follow up:

July 23rd

Unfortunately we were unable to get a male tutor to continue for the following weeks, along with being unable to get insurance cover for young people in the Adult Education Centre while attending woodwork or stained glass with their Dads/Male carers. We hope to continue the programme with this group in September, if we are successful in getting a male tutor.

Dads and Lads Funding Proposal

The Clare Family Learning Project, Autumn Programme 2007.

The Clare Family Learning Project plans to run a pilot programme aimed specifically at Dads/Male Carers and their children using a sports and games approach. It is widely accepted in family learning programmes internationally, the difficulty in reaching males. With this in mind, we asked some males for advice on what might make a programme attractive to men and their children. An opportunity to play soccer was the resounding decision. Building on this other options were discussed, and it was decided that having variety on offer, would maintain interest and suit all learning types.

We hope to kick start the programme with Soccer and follow on with three other sessions, a Sports Quiz, Photo Scrapbook about Ennis, and finally Bowling.

Each session will be about parent and child interaction time, with literacy and numeracy as a discreet element of the programme. Skills will be built into each session in a very natural way. There is a national problem with boys not achieving educationally as well as girls. It is hoped this initiative might encourage boys to read more using topics of interest to them. Dads and male carers can role model reading for/with their child and we would encourage use of libraries to get more information on other subjects of interest. The programme offers an opportunity for increased communication between parent/carer and child.

‘Positive involvement by fathers in their children’s learning is associated with …better mental health, higher quality of later relationships, less criminality, better school attendance and behaviour, and better examination results.’ (Department of Health & Department for Education and Skills (2004) National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services. London: DoH, p.69)

The notion of having a healthy lifestyle with good food, healthy snacks and lots of exercise is also incorporated into the programme.

Because of the high numbers of female staff in adult education, we felt it would be very important to have male tutors to role model for the participants. We have managed to get a number of male to agree to deliver the programme.

If this approach is successful in reaching Dads / Male carers, we would hope it would become an annual event.

Numbers will be limited to 10 Dads and 10 lads from the Respond, Drumbiggle area and Cloughleigh, Ennis, for the Soccer, ‘Bring a Friend’ is possible for the Sports Quiz. Time 6-7pm. First ten to sign up will be taking part.

Day 1
September 2007 (This date needs confirmation 3 weeks before hand)

Soccer in Ennis Leisure Centre, Drumbiggle, Ennis

Introduction and welcome and explanation of what programme involves.

Divide into two groups 2nd – 6th Class and Dads/Male carers. Each team must come up with their own name.

Play 20 minutes aside. While one team plays the other records scores, misses, wides, fouls etc.

Have a soft drink and healthy snack provided. Prizes for winners plus spot prizes for fun.

Give each Dad and lad a disposable camera to take photos of things they like in their area and around Ennis during the week. This will be returned following week.


Day 2
September 2007 A Fun Sports Table Quiz, in Adult Education Centre, Ennis.

10 rounds of 8 easy questions. Tables of 4. Questions will be read out and one person at each table to write answers. Sensitivity to literacy skills will be needed. Scores will be written up. Soft Drink and healthy snack provided. Fun spot prizes through the session. Egg and Spoon Race, Blindman’s Buff. Winners get prizes. Others get consolation prizes.

Cameras handed in for developing for following weeks session.


Day 3
October 2007 Photo Scrap Book, on the theme of ‘A picture story of my area’. Dad and Lads to think of their own title for their scrapbook.

Dads and lads get their developed photos back, and put them into a scrapbook. Use of IT room to print out headings to go with these. Parents will take their scrapbooks home.

Have a soft drink and selection of healthy snacks available.

Display of Foods for Power, Strength and Health in Sport: i.e

(Carbohyrates, Fats, Proteins, Minerals and Vitamins and Water)

Those who have attended two out of the three sessions, will go bowling.


Day 4
October 2007 Trip to Bowling Alley. Divide group into teams and record progress.

Healthy snack and drink available. Prizes for winners with some spot prizes. Complete evaluation sheets. Give everyone pedometers to continue momentum of interaction and activity with parents and children.

Finish with presentation of certificates. Thank people for taking part.

Offer Dads and Lads an option to attend computer classes in Autumn.


Funding Needed

Lads Pack: Hat and Tshirt 5 of each colour, €11 x 10 €110
Book suitable for primary school boy. €10 x 10 €100
Dads Pack: Healthy Eating info and Exercise Ideas
Tshirt €  40
Prizes: Sports Books      2 @ €10 € 20
Sports Personality Books 2 @ €10 € 20
2 x DVD’s e.g. of World Cup Soccer Highlights € 18
Soccer Jerseys 2 @ €30 € 60
Soccer Balls 4 x €16 € 64
3 Magnetic Dart boards @ €6 each € 18
10 x €2 sports items for spot prizes € 20
 Venue costs: Ennis Leisure Centre 1 hour Football  € 60
Ennis Leisure Centre 1 hour of Bowling
3 lanes @ €36 per lane
 € 108
 Materials:  Healthy Snacks  € 40
 Drinks 20 healthy drinks x 4 sessions  € 80
 Scrapbooks x 10 x €5.00  € 50
 Pritt Sticks
Disposable Cameras and development costs
Cassidys Pharmacy, Ennis
10 cameras @ €9.99 with free developing
 € 99.90