Sunday, June 10, 2012

Kicking Off Father's Week - Increasing Father Involvement in Schools

I know it's called Father's Day, but I'm a proud dad and public school principal who thinks its time we generate greater awareness about the positive role all fathers play in facilitating the transformation of children into hard-working, respectful, growth minded adults. So, I thought I'd kick-off "Father's Week" with a post about increasing father involvement in schools.

In an earlier post, I wrote about the importance of father involvement and how school leaders might facilitate dads becoming more involved in school. As educators, I believe we should not only emphasize parent involvement in general, but we should make a greater press to get more dads involved in school. I don't think many educators would argue that the majority of parent involvement in schools is handled by moms, however, the evidence clearly tells us that we need to connect dads to the academic and social programs in our schools so they can further help their children toward academic and life-long success.

On May 23, 2012, the topic of that evening's #ptchat on Twitter was "Father Engagement", and this chat was certainly informative for me as a dad and elementary school principal. Mike Hall (@strongfathers) initially got me fired up with his tweet about having three to five dad specific activities during the school year. He even began throwing out some data, which I loved, regarding improved science and math achievement in girls who have dads that are more involved at home, school, and in their lives. This led many educators to make suggestions about how to get dads to actually come out to the school. Many of the suggestions involved food and sports, but in the words of Mike Hall, "we OVERTHINK dads. We are talking sports and food instead of how much dads love their kids. Dads come in droves when kids invite." Mike was kind enough to share his step by step program for increasing father involvement in schools. Take a look at it here, because it will certainly get you thinking about how to do this in your community.

As you can see, before we begin inviting a dad to our schools, we need to make sure he is connected to his child, his child's teacher, and the content his child is expected to learn. We know dads love their kids, so we should begin by making a greater press to get dads connected with their child's teacher and the content. This is a great time to begin thinking about how to approach this for the upcoming school year. I'm thinking it might be as simple as having classroom teachers make contact specifically with dads to increase their comfort level and to begin connecting them to the content. Once this is accomplished and dads feel more connected to the academic issues, we can begin planning those dad specific events to get them more connected to our schools. One dad specific event suggested by Tony Sinanis (@Cantiague_Lead) was DARB, Dads As Reading Buddies. I think this has great utility for increasing father involvement in school, especially at the elementary school level.

So, as we embark on Father's Week, please share some thoughts about Mike Hall's program for increasing father involvement in schools, as well as your thoughts about how you plan to get dads more connected to your school.


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