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Getting Dads Involved in School


Q. I'm sick of moms always having to carry the load in parental involvement in schools. Most of us are working full-time! Why are we still expected to do everything to support the school? What can parent groups and schools do to get more fathers involved?


Well, for one thing: quit using term "Room Mother." If you're serious about making schools father-friendly, go with "Classroom Volunteer" or "Room Parent." And hold your parent group meetings in the evening. Have a website or send email. And get your own spouses involved; there's safety in numbers.


It's very important for children to have their fathers involved in their schools. Clearly, the research shows that when both the mother and the father are involved with the child's school, that child is more likely to get A's, be involved in extracurricular activities, and feel happier about school in general.


For the most part, the moms are already involved in everything from shelving library books once a month, to chairing fund-raisers, to putting on holiday parties, to chaperoning field trips. Women still outnumber men in every category of school involvement, from attending parent-teacher conferences to staffing a booth at Open House. A National Household Education Survey found that 58 percent of mothers in two-parent families were highly involved, compared to 28 percent of fathers.


But there has been some encouraging movement for men, especially after a divorce, when children need both parents even more. So that's a trend worth fostering: getting divorced dads and single dads in there to show support for their kids, along with all the dads in general.


But how? Here are some ideas:


n         Set up a sub-group of your parent-teacher organization that's a "Dads' Club." Let the dads plan their activities their own special way, with help and support from the main organization.


n         Plan a "Doughnuts with Dad" morning before school in the gym, when kids enjoy free doughnuts, juice and coffee with their fathers, and the dads read aloud to their kids for a few minutes before the kids dash off to school and the dads dash off to work.


n         Instead of a bake sale, put the dads in charge of a pancake feed or a big pasta bar; the bigger the pots in the kitchen, the better the dads like it!


n         Put dads in charge of soliciting the prizes for your fund-raising auction; many of them have business contacts that go untapped, while women's contacts are often tapped out.


n         Solicit information about skills, hobbies and interests from both parents and develop a skills bank that could be turned in to another sub-club of your parents' organization. For instance, if two men say they want to get involved and both play chess, you could suggest that they set up an after-school chess club that meets once a week, or even in the evenings. Intramural sports are great opportunities for dads, as are school clean-ups, tree plantings, or Saturday mornings spent grooming school grounds. Older pupils would enjoy an investment club or auto repair club.

Homework: Collect more great ideas about school parents' groups on


By Susan Darst Williams Parental Involvement 29 2008


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