Back-to-School Tips for Dads

Dad, here’s your friendly start-of-the-school-year reminder about your important role in your children’s education.

Based on our recent survey on father involvement, many of you are already doing pretty well in this area. Compared with a similar survey from 1999, dads in 2008 are more involved in every area examined. The greatest increases in father involvement came in “walking or taking your child to school,” “attending class events,” and “helping your child with extracurricular activities.” Significant gains were also seen in “helping your child with homework” and “visiting your child’s classroom.”

While the numbers are up in every area, dads show room for improvement in some significant areas, especially reading with their children. 38% of survey respondents said dads never read to their child. Additionally, 50% of dads never volunteer at their child’s school and 69% never have lunch with their child at school.

See our news release on the survey results.

Now is a great time to renew your commitment to help out with every aspect of your children’s education. If it helps, think of your child’s new school year as a “new year” for your fathering, complete with resolutions and goals for the next twelve months. Based on our survey results, here are three resolutions for you to consider:

  • Read regularly with your child. With young children, read together four or five times a week. For older kids, buy your own copy of what they’re reading and discuss it at least weekly.
  • Commit yourself to have lunch with your child at school at least twice this school year. If you can, bring pizza or something else he will enjoy.
  • Volunteer a day this year to help out at the school. The WATCH D.O.G.S. program is one of the best ways to get yourself and other dads more involved. Find out more.


  • During back-to-school events, ask the teacher how you can help out, and put field trips, classroom parties, teacher conferences, and PTA/PTO meetings on your calendar.
  • Be proactive about helping with homework this year. Ask to see assignments; be the spelling word quizmaster, science project assistant, and supportive audience for practice speeches.
  • Ask your child, “What would a successful year look like?” “In which areas do you hope to excel?” “What are some areas that need extra attention?”
  • Keep your eyes and ears open for signs of worry or stress when your child talks about the new teacher, new friends, new teams, or new subjects. Keep those concerns in mind for the coming months.
  • Schedule a regular time when you can check in and spend one-on-one time together, like breakfast together one Saturday a month.
  • If your child is away at college or living away from home write him a short note at least once a month.

Watch the replay of the Fathering Breakthrough Event

Join Dr. Ken Canfield and a handful of friends and partners as we give an update about our efforts to inspire and equip fathers all over the world.

There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.

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