All the great men and women of the world have one thing in common—they were all once in first grade.

There's nothing more gratifying than watching a future Olympic gold medal swimmer make his first attempt at dog-paddling, seeing a future Rhodes scholar off for her first day of kindergarten, or observing a future business leader make his first buck at a lemonade stand.

Every new activity is a landmark event—new territory to be conquered. Those early school age years are the days of small beginnings. It kind of makes you jealous, doesn't it? Don't you wish you could return to the days of promise and anticipation?

Actually, if you think about it, you may be surprised to discover how much you and your child have in common at this time in your lives. If your child is in grade school, I would guess that you are still young enough to be early in your career. Both of you are settling into a routine.

Much of your child's attention at this age is occupied with formal education, regular activities, and the development of new skills. In a parallel fashion, you may be settling into a career, furthering occupational skills, or starting a new business. Consequently, you may be more in tune with your child than you realize. Psychologists would say that both of you are actually working on similar conceptual tasks, even though you're tackling different issues.

The delightful challenge for fathers who have school-age children is to look for "intersection" points with their kids—look for those parallels and use them to connect with your little guy or gal. Tell 'em, "I made a new friend today, how about you?" Or, "I've got a big project due next week, but I got a good start on it today. It's kind of like your book report."

If you look for them, these intersection points will come naturally. The school-age years are a time when kids are looking for a little instruction from their fathers. They have a desire to share their small accomplishments with their dads.

The future gold medalist wants you to teach him how to back float. The future scholar runs home to show you that indeed two plus three does equal five. Your future tycoon asks you why a dime is more than a nickel when it's plain to see that the nickel is bigger.

Dads, do not despise the days of small beginnings. Acorns become mighty oaks. First grade students—with a dad who relates to them—can become first-rate adults.