The Father Factor

Preparation Key to Success for Fatherhood Programs

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Jul 4, 2017


As we celebrate our nation’s birthday this week, it pays to reflect on the practices that helped some of our nation’s greatest leaders to succeed.Being prepared is one of those practices.

  • Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
  • Thomas Jefferson once said, “Some preparation seems necessary to qualify the body of a nation for self-government.”
  • Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Preparation is not only vital to the success of leaders. It’s also vital to your success in facilitating a program for dads. Apply the following tips to help you prepare:

  • Know the content of the program like the back of your hand. Read through the content of the program several times before you facilitate the first session/module/topic. Then facilitate it with a “test group” of dads. These dads could include friends, coworkers, and dads whom coworkers know. Don’t worry about the size of the group. Even a group of two or three dads can form a good test group.
  • Be clear on the outcomes the program seeks to generate. Look to the program’s logic model for these outcomes. (If the program doesn’t have a logic model, that’s a problem.) But don’t just look at the overall outcomes. Look at the outcomes (goals and objectives) for each session/module. When you know the outcomes, you can spot instances when the program doesn’t have the desired impact and “course correct” (e.g. reinforce content the dads don’t understand).
  • Set the stage. Create an environment conducive to learning in which dads feel free to make mistakes, experiment with ideas, explore and practice new skills, share excitement, and respect each other. Everything from how you set up the room to your own behavior can create or fail to create this environment. Arrange seats in a circle or horseshoe shape, for example, rather than a typical classroom style. Sit in the circle with the dads. Use non-judgmental verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • Use checklists that will make facilitating the program as easy as possible. Create one that includes activities you must do before every session. Create a separate checklist for each session that includes activities you must do that are unique to each session.
  • Conduct a “pre-mortem” before each session. Ask questions like: What could go wrong that would create a difficult session? Might some dads fail to understand some of the content? If so, which content might be difficult for them to understand? Might the background of some dads (e.g. those who don’t have access to their children) make it difficult for them to apply what they’ll learn? By asking such questions, you can prepare for how to handle potential problems before they arise.

You can find these and other preparation tips—and so much more—in National Fatherhood Initiative’s Effective Facilitation Certificate online training. This popular affordable, on-demand training is the most comprehensive you’ll find on how to effectively facilitate any program for dads. Click here to learn more and to register.

How do you prepare to facilitate a fatherhood program?

Have you been trained on how to be an effective facilitator?


Topics: Tips & Tricks

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