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Raising kids that are emotionally stable, physically healthy, socially well-adjusted, and academically successful is a parent’s dream come true. If only there was a way to reach this dream and promote these positive outcomes while avoiding some of the negative things like picking up poor habits and struggling to grasp social cues and educational lessons.
Here’s the good news: This dream isn’t so far out of reach.
A key component of any healthy child is parental involvement and, especially, the involvement of fathers.
Dads who are engaged with their kids’ lives and activities make a significant impact in the developmental stages of childhood. What’s more, Parent Groups & schools that have a heavy father (& father-figure) presence are more successful and can achieve greater goals for their students & community.
However, history has shown that fathers are actually half as likely as moms to be actively involved in their child’s school.
This probably has to do with what has traditionally been thought of as work for moms (raising kids, being on the PTO, community involvement) and work for dads (bringing home the paycheck, maintaining the household, etc.).
But, these roles have collided and shifted over the years so that there are no longer defined boundaries or definitions of what it means to be a mom or dad.
Over the past decade, the door has been opened for dads to step into the world of school activities, evening homework assignments, PTO fundraisers, and educational programs that promote health and safety (shout out to Watch D.O.G.S!).
As a Parent Group, it’s important to keep this door wide open and encourage fathers to step through it.
With a new school year just around the corner, there’s no better time to brainstorm and strategize on ways your group can play an active role in getting more fathers involved at your school. Which is why we’ve put together these 5 simple ways to bring more dads in and get them engaged with the awesome work you’re doing for your students!
1) Partner with a Father-Focused Organization
There’s no need to start from scratch when there are already amazing organizations that are actively promoting father involvement in schools. These groups are well-established and have an impressive track record of bringing dads in and engaging them in ways that lead to positive outcomes for both parents & students.
2) Start a Dad's Club
If you're looking for a great way to get more fathers involved, starting a Dad's Club is a great place to start. This group is a venue for dads that helps them feel welcome & allows them to serve real needs that benefit both the students & your Parent Group.
A Dads' Club can also be expanded to more male role models, such as uncles, grandfathers, older brothers, coaches, step dads, etc. Working in conjunction with the PTO, Dad's Clubs are a way expand your reach as a Parent Group and access the untapped resource of fathers who are ready to roll up their sleeves and take part in the action.
We love the idea of a Dad's Club so much that we actually wrote a separate blog post on what it takes to start one and some tips for increasing participation! >> Read the Full Post
3) Host Dad-Centered Events
If you know anything about The Get Movin' Crew, then you know we love ourselves a good event.
Experiences will always trump gifts and goodies, no matter how shiny or delicious. It may be said that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but rather than bribe fathers with a yummy bake sale, try getting them engaged through awesome dad-focused events.
There are several ways you can do this. The first is to take an already existing event, i.e., Spring Carnival, and amend it to be specifically oriented toward dads. This may mean amending promotional materials, specific activities, food, decoration, etc. The purpose is to try and get dads to attend and to see the awesome things happening at your school and why they would want to get involved.
Another way is to host an annual celebration that is run and maintained by fathers. This could be an end-of-the-year celebration or a holiday party or annual fall barbeque. The purpose is to get dads involved at the level of a volunteer and to have ownership over the event and pass it on over the years.
Lastly, you could have an event, or several smaller events throughout the year, that are specifically for dads and students to interact and engage with one another. This is similar to the All Pro Dads approach mentioned above.
Host an interesting speaker or hilarious comedian, have a special breakfast or dinner, or even host a special outing to putt-putt or glow-in-the-dark bowling for kids to specifically spend time with dad.
4) Promote PTO Leadership Positions
A great way to get dads involved is to give them responsibility and ownership through a PTO leadership position.
However, if a father has never been a part of the PTO or PTA, then you don’t want to make him the president just to get him involved. We suggest creating an involvement plan and helping dads on their journey toward being engaged and serving in these leadership positions.
An ideal involvement plan might start with attending a PTO event, then volunteering to help with the next fundraiser, then starting to regularly attend meetings and voice opinions and ideas to the group.
Next, suggest serving directly with someone on the PTO leadership to learn about the position and what it takes to volunteer at this level. From there, parents (both moms & dads) can apply for an open position at the next election!
You can create a handout for new parents with this involvement plan on it, or you can simply communicate this plan with each newcomer who is interested in getting more engaged with your Parent Group.
We have found that getting people involved with an event, group or fundraiser is best done when there is ownership over the process. That’s why we created out Student Fundraising Pages – so each student feels responsible for his or her part in the overall progress toward achieving individual, classroom and school fundraising goals!
The same philosophy applies toward getting more fathers involved – it comes down to feeling that they have an important part to play in their child’s and school’s success!
5) Daddy & Me Service Activity
Similar to dad-focused events, Daddy & Me Service Activities are opportunities for kids to connect with their dads. But, it is also an opportunity for dads to actively teach their children about service, community, and the importance of giving back.
Service activity ideas can include:
Serving together fosters close bonds between kids and their dads. What’s more, it also creates a great opportunity for your Parent Group to give back to the community and exhibits the powerful benefit of having both moms & dads involved!
Back to You: How Does Your Parent Group Promote Father Involvement?