A special tradition is quickly brewing at P.S. 186 in Bensonhurst. September 17 marked the school’s second annual “Dad Take Your Child to School Day.” The event was created in an attempt for children’s fathers (and in some cases, grandfathers, uncles and brothers) to observe what their children do on a daily basis, sort of a different spin on take your daughter to work day.
Fathers gathered outside the schoolyard at 8 a.m. with their children to see where they congregate daily. That was followed by nearly an hour of helping their kids with various activities.
All these activities focused on father-related tasks, with the challenges naturally progressing for the older kids. Kindergarten children sang in unison to their dads about the days of the week. First graders were told to copy a sentence which read, “I played football with Dad.” They were also asked to draw pictures of them. And older kids were asked to write paragraphs about what makes their dad special.
Elaine Delaney, parent coordinator at the school, observed the statewide event in its seventh year, and mentioned the idea of having one at their school to Principal Bayan Cadotte who was extremely receptive. Cadotte, along with Assistant Principals Rina Horne and Donna Neglia, set the wheels in motion to make it a reality.
Last year’s version was a resounding success. And the event appears to be increasing in popularity. “This is an even bigger turnout than last year,” observed PTA President Christine Abbate.
Fourth grade teacher Mrs. Cavallaro concurred. “Eight fathers is a pretty good turnout for an older class. It’s very nice for the kids,” she said. “They’re excited.” Cavallaro had her students write 10 positive things about their dad.
The children had a blast seeing their fathers help them with their work. “(The kids) get to bring them into their world. Sometimes, the fathers work late so it means a lot to them,” said Abbate, who also recalled a story of one child behaving better than usual in eager anticipation for the day. “She did all her homework early. She went to bed early. She wanted to be ready for this morning.”
After observing the kids in their own environment, the adults gathered to the auditorium for coffee and donuts, and to mingle with staff.
Judging by their reactions, the morning meant just as much to them as it did to their children. “I feel like I’m taking more responsibility for my daughter’s education and future,” said proud dad Ahmed Elmeniawi.
Another father, Samy Hassan, had his hands full dividing time between his two daughters who both attend the school. It meant so much for his daughters, Hana and Hala, that one was sent to the auditorium to take a picture with him because she didn’t have the chance earlier.
It was an impressive day for an impressive school, which has a small town atmosphere for being in such a large borough. “Everyone knows everyone here,” said Delaney. In a city as busy as New York, that’s a great strength for P.S. 186.