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Guest Post: Mr. Elvin R. Freytes is the founder of MaJenDome – global movement inspiring expectant fathers to read to the womb – and author of Hello My Little One, It’s Me Your Father – the first children’s book for expectant fathers to read to their child still in the womb.
What is MaJenDome?
MaJenDome is the world’s greatest educational initiative EVER! How about THAT for an eye opening line! Please allow me to explain. First, let’s go back to 2002. While living abroad and trying to fall asleep after a long day of teaching I had a vision of a child turning to me and saying the word MaJenDome (pronounced Ma-Jen-Dum). I immediately wrote it down and started to look for it online. I found nothing so thought nothing of it. But this word kept prickling in my mind. Just like Neo in the Matrix kept asking himself what is the Matrix, I kept asking myself what is MaJenDome? Finally in 2010 the answer came to me like a bolt of lightning. Ah ha! MaJenDome is the act of an expectant father reading to the expectant mother’s womb – no clue how that came to me. Nice, I found the answer. I did it! I’m stoked. Now what? As soon as I asked myself that question, surprisingly I quickly, almost instinctively, responded – I must use this word to create a global movement dedicated to inspiring expectant fathers to read to the womb.
So I went to work. I created a Blog, opened a Twitter account and started a Facebook page. Suddenly I asked myself, why am I doing this? I am not a father? I’m not even an expectant father? Then I remembered the child in my vision and thought, this is what I was told to do. This will be my life’s work. Of course another movie reference came to mind – think Spiderman, a blessing and a curse. Blessing because I have the opportunity to change the world; a curse because I know nothing about fatherhood.
Inspired by my new found mission in life I began to research – thank you Google. I found that reading to the womb was not a novel idea – bummer, there went the millions. Turns out many women have been reading while pregnant for a very long time, but men? Have men read to the womb? I found that the idea of a man reading to the womb was considered unimportant – basically, what’s the point? They can’t hear anything in there. But they CAN! I found tons of research on prenatal learning (now there’s a phrase I never dreamed of uttering). Right now the most recognized figure heading up this type of research is Annie Murphy Paul – see her recent TED talk on what we learn before we’re born – and studies cited by The Reading Womb also prove that children ARE learning in the womb (I connected with both via Twitter – thx twittersphere). This means babies CAN hear us.
Ok, we now know babies can hear us and there IS learning taking place in the womb. So what does this have to do with education? Good question. I asked myself the same thing. Come soon answers will young Jedi – love that little green dude. Back to Google. I found that reading aloud to the womb develops a strong bond between parent and soon to be born child. This is vital for the dad-to-be because the connection starts from the beginning and stays strong throughout (full disclosure here, that last line was one of my theories – verified though by a father who told me his touching story via Facebook).
So when a father makes this connection he becomes more involved in his child’s life. This led me to look up stats on children who grew up without a father. I found plenty of stats on fatherless children and some were quite alarming. Here are the most disturbing – greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, teen pregnancy, crime and poor educational performance (ding). Ah ha! This means, among many other things, that children WITH involved fathers are more likely to excel in an educational environment – COOL! Not only that, but I found a large body of research stating the benefits of reading aloud. Reading aloud increases listening skills, vocabulary, memory, language, imagination, creativity and much more! Plus I found FRED (Fathers Reading Every Day) which tracked fathers reading to their children every day and found fantastic results (alert, alert, research idea – how about we start tracking from the womb?).
Ok, time to make the donuts. In other words, time to connect the dots. The combination of fathers reading aloud to their kids from the womb and developing a strong bond from the start could result in a monumental educational shift – huge increases in literacy, high school and college graduation rates are just a few outcomes among many, MANY (Police Academy – love that dude) other wonderful possibilities. Here’s how it could play out – 1. Man finds out his partner is expecting a child 2. Expectant father reads to womb every night (after getting approval from expectant mom first – of course) 3. Expectant father bonds with his child and mom-to-be 4. Father continues to read to child after birth 5. Father becomes more involved in raising child and teaching them how to read and write 6. Father stays connected to mother and child 7. Child grows up to be a good student 8. Child becomes a well rounded contributing member of society 9. Child becomes expectant parent and repeats the cycle 10. The world becomes a better place (WOOHOO). I know it’s a stretch but like the lottery commercials say, hey you never know.
And now for the big finale – get ready for some in your face shameless self promotion, that’s right, I gonna be THAT guy…my apologies. The best part about the aforementioned scenario and the MaJenDome movement is that you, yuppers, YOU can help make this happen. How you ask? I’m glad you did – gracias. Follow, like, share, comment and motivate others to support the movement via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, LinkedIn, GetGlue and Foursquare . Buy my book Hello My Little One, It’s Me Your Father – the first children’s book for expectant fathers to read to their child still in the womb – as a gift for expectant fathers, for a baby shower or for whatever reason you think may be appropriate. And finally, use the oldest marketing strategy known – word of mouth. If you know someone who is going to be a father, inspire him to read to the womb. In doing so you will help make this planet a better place – see happy planet AND be a part of the world’s greatest educational initiative EVER!