Fatherhood may not be a rare gift, but it is certainly one to be highly valued and carefully guarded. When a new life is created, the child brings to the mother and father not only exponential joy but also a lifelong commitment and interdependent relationship.
Fathers play many important roles in a child’s life, varying in each individual family based on the provisions of the father and needs of the child. An area in which our society is significantly suffering, though, is the involvement of fathers in the education of our children.
Many fathers are doing an excellent job of participating daily in the education of our nation’s children, but there is still a large percentage not engaging with teachers, homework, schools, and academic development.
Before going any deeper into why and how fathers should get involved in education, a definition of fatherhood should first be explained. Sticking with a formal definition, fatherhood can be simply stated as a state-of-being in relation to being a father. For the context of this article, though, let’s take it one step farther.
[Tweet “Fatherhood is a lifestyle. It does not have walls, it is not predictable, and it does not end.”]
Children do not stop needing their fathers because life circumstances or relationships change, because they get older, or because lives get busy. Once a man enters into fatherhood, he is a member for life, and whether he is man enough to take on that challenge or not is up to him. The impact a father has on a child is irreplaceable, as numerous studies have shown, the absence of a father can result in negative consequences that can affect all areas of a child’s life.
One of those significant areas is education. Children with involved fathers tend toward achieving academic success across the board, higher IQs, improved test results, and better attitudes toward school. They are less likely to drop out, fail classes, or develop behavioral concerns.
Knowing children with involved fathers have such a clear academic advantage, here are some ways in which fathers can become actively involved with their child’s learning.
The National Center for Fathering has created a program called Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) to help connect fathers with their children’s schools. They volunteer a day of their time doing varying activities around the school such as assisting teachers, helping to monitor the car line, patrolling the school, and other various tasks as assigned. This is not only a huge assistance to teachers and school staff, but it also helps the children know that their fathers care enough to take a day off from work and invest in the betterment of the school. If Watch D.O.G.S. is not available as an option, ask the school administration or teachers about other volunteer opportunities to get involved.
Find out from the child’s teacher what topics they are covering right now at school. Check out a book from the library or download one online that relates in some way to what is being taught at school. As a part of the bedtime routine, read together this book and discuss anything newly discovered or learned. This will develop a healthy habit of reading every night, will open up communication regarding school and learning, and will create very special memories shared between father and child.
If weekdays prove impossible for a father to engage in many school-related activities, plan to take full advantage of the weekends. For every weekend, base at least one outing or adventure on something connected to either a lesson learned at school that week or something new the child has always wanted to try. This will reinforce learning at school, enable a more hands-on educational experience, and facilitate bonding time.
Ride to School
Mornings are often the most hectic time of the day, but if at all possible, arranging schedules to allow for driving children to school in the morning will open the door for some great conversations along the way. What do you have going on today? What are you most looking forward to? Are you nervous about anything? If it is possible to take the few extra minutes to walk the child to class, too, this makes it easy to speak with the teacher and other school staff. If this time in the morning is impossible to do, a quick appearance at lunch will make a world of difference in a student’s day and allow for the same communication with teachers and staff.
Understandably, sometimes work has to come home with fathers. If unable to devote full attention to helping with a child’s homework in the evenings, consider working alongside each other to complete your work. Sitting together, side by side, will show children that time with them is important, that getting homework done is necessary, and that they are not alone in handling their school responsibilities. If all work for the day is done, do simple things together like eating dinner, cleaning up, packing lunches for the next morning, getting ready for bed—all those will prove a father’s interest in a child, will facilitate open communication about the day, and will provide an opportunity to encourage and motivate the child to gear up for the next day at school.
If a father wants to take an extra step to be actively involved in their child’s education, then becoming a Learning Coach through online education may be the ideal solution. As a Learning Coach, fathers are able to participate in the learning process at home, emerging as an integral role in the child’s education.
Fatherhood comes with many challenges on a daily basis and numerous obstacles to overcome along the way. There will be trying times for sure, but the focus should never shift from the child. No matter the situation in life, no matter the relationship, it is essential to a student’s academic success that the father be an engaged and consistent presence in the child’s life, both at home and at school.