Your children just started school or are about to go back, and I hope that’s a big deal in your mind—whether they’re starting kindergarten or the last year of graduate school. They will mature and be shaped in incredible ways during coming months, and of course you can play a major role to help and encourage them. Your involvement in their education can help set them up for success this semester and into the future.
What exactly does that look like, and how can we dads focus our involvement? Here are three ideas that come to mind that you can consider adding to what you already do:
- Celebrate your child in some way. Maybe this could be a one-on-one outing to your child’s favorite ice cream or coffee shop. Just have fun together and find a time to briefly affirm her at this latest milestone she is reaching. Carrying it a step further, maybe you could hand her a written note or card with your written encouragement for the upcoming year—something she can read again and again. Maybe you’ll even want to add a small gift. Whatever you do, find a way to affirm your child and communicate “I’m here for you” during the school year.
- Share memories from your school days. Who was your favorite teacher, and why? In which subjects did you excel, and which was a challenge for you? What memories do you have from when you were in your child’s grade? How nervous were you that first day of middle school? Those stories and memories from Dad may help ease some of their worries, and anything good you have to say about what you gained from your school years will convey how valuable education was for you and can also be for them.
- Commit to be engaged in your kids’ education this year. You probably expect your child to have good study habits, be cooperative in class, and so on. It’s good for you to step up and do your part as well—even if this is simply a matter of renewing habits you have carried on in the past. A big part of this is being interested and asking lots of questions. Research notes that one of the most significant questions you can ask a child during the learning years—at any age—is, “Tell me about what happens at school.” Have him or her describe the events of their school day or course work in as much detail as possible. Ask about favorite teachers, friends, frustrations, challenges and so on. These questions and your genuine interest show that you really care and often lead to deeper conversations.
Another great way to be involved is to volunteer a day at the school. Get involved through the WATCH D.O.G.S. program or contact your child’s school to make it happen.
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