Strategies to Improve Fathers' Involvement in Education-Excerpted from: A Call to Commitment: Fathers' Involvement in Children’s Learning
There are strategies to reduce obstacles to fathers involvement in education. To help dads warm up and get involved with their children means to convince them of the significance of small, very simple interactions with their children--interactions that may seem very insignificant to the dads, but mean a great deal to their children.
It is important to remember up front that both sensitivity and self-confidence are greater than any specific skills in paternal behavior and influence. Sensitivity is critical to both involvement and closeness. The closeness of the father-child relationship is the crucial determinant of the dad's impact on a child's development and adjustment. Developing sensitivity enables a dad to evaluate his child's signals or needs, and respond to them appropriately (Abramovitch in Lamb, 1997).
What Fathers Can Do at Home, at School and in the Community
Fathers can initiate or participate in activities that help their children succeed academically. Helping children learn can increase success in school. The nature and frequency with which parents interact in positive ways with their children reflect the parents investment in their children's education (NCES, 2000). Here are some steps that fathers can take at home, at school and in the community that make a positive difference for their children's education.
At home, fathers can:
Read with their children. The ability to read well is known to be one of the most critical skills a child needs to be successful. Parents and caregivers often ask how they can get their children interested in reading, interested enough to turn off the TV and to read on their own? Years of research show that the best way is for the parent to serve as a model reader by reading to the child and by reading themselves. If the father can't read the text, he can stimulate his child's imagination by telling stories using a picture book. In addition, he can ask other significant adults to read to younger children and ask older children to read to him. He can take frequent trips to the library with the child to check out books and get to know the children's librarian and children's library programs.
Establish a daily routine. Fathers can set a time for homework, chores and other activities; use TV wisely by limiting viewing to no more than two hours a school day; and work with their child on homework and special projects, guiding them through the steps involved and encouraging them along the way. Parents don't need to have in-depth knowledge of a subject, but can be supportive of their child in working through tough spots in her or his school work.
Make the most of bedtime. Bedtime is a terrific opportunity for fathers to connect with their children. For one thing, the audience is definitely captive! There are also fewer distractions. But perhaps most importantly, there is no judge standing by with a scorecard rating the dad on his performance.
At bedtime, a father can enrich a child's life merely by recounting what he did during the day. Discussing the day's events shows interest in the child and builds his or her knowledge. A father may also tell or read a story. Every moment he spends and every word he says builds a relationship with his child.
At school and other childcare and child development programs, fathers can:
Participate in efforts to keep their children's schools or childcare centers safe.
Plan for the future by talking with their children and school counselors about future high school courses and postsecondary career options.
Attend parent-teacher conferences and school or class events.
Volunteer at school. Fathers are welcome at schools as tutors, as leaders of afternoon or evening clubs, as chaperons for field trips, social activities or athletic events, or as classroom speakers who share information about their work and the world of work and how education contributed to their expertise on the job.
Visit their child's school or center. Father-child breakfasts or lunches are good opportunities to informally share a meal with children and learn about their daily school experiences, successes and concerns.
Meet their child's teachers and learn about school curriculum, and how to become involved in activities.
Pitch in to help meet school and program needs, such as installing new playground equipment, cooking at a school picnic or painting and repairing school property.
Join the Parent Teacher Association or other parent groups at their child's school or childcare center. At meetings, they can make their voices heard regarding their concerns and ideas for school improvement.
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