With Father's Day right around the corner, we thought this was a great opportunity to talk about starting a Dads' Club at your school! Fathers want to be involved in their children's school just as much as moms, but so often we find that Parent Groups are lacking in the dad department.
So, if you're looking for a great way to get more fathers involved, starting a Dads' Club is a great place to start. This group is not entirely separated from the PTO, it's just a more specific 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. In a society that relegates education to "mom duty," it's important to show that male role models are an integral part of a child's education and the school community.
Working in conjunction with the PTO, Dads' 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.
Starting a Dads Club:
What Does it Take?
We're big supporters of the "no-one-size-fits-all" mentality, and this same thinking goes for Dads Clubs. But, there are some basic steps that will apply for any Parent Group looking to start a Dads Club.
These methods are based on the great advice from PTO Today and InPathways, both resources we recommend checking out.
3 Basic Steps
1. Designate a Leader/Advocate
As with any great venture, there must be a leader to pave the way and cast the vision. We recommend coming up with a few great potential leaders for your Dads Club and then meeting with each one to check their interest and availability. And, don't feel limited by your options! Anyone can fill this role, even a mom or a current member of the PTO as the advocate that gets your Dads Club off the ground and running. It's only important that your leader is able to work well with others: administration, teachers/staff, other parents, PTO members, and volunteers.
After you designate your leader, it's important to look at your immediate connections (and those of your leader) to create a core group of dads (and other male role models) to be the foundation of your Dads Club. Remember, this group is a formal organization that will have responsibilities, it is not simply a social club for guys. This means it is important to establish your core group and possibly even establish roles similar to those in the PTO.
3. Develop Goals
The goals of your Dads Club will depend on your schools needs and the Parent Group's current projects. It will also largely depend on the personality of the men involved and their capabilities as a group. As you develop goals, this is also a great time to establish a structure for your Dads Club meetings, i.e., assigned note takers, developed mission statement, guidelines for bringing food and where to meet, etc. Some overall goals for your Dads Club could be oriented toward more manual work, such as improving the school grounds, or they could be to further the fundraising efforts of the Parent Group by hosting annual events like a gold tournament or hot dog eating contest. Other goals may include sponsoring more scholastic activities that support dad involvement, or hosting forums for community discussion that enables local activism.
Once your Dads Club has a leader, a core group, and a set structure and goals, it is important to create some regularity to your meetings and agenda.
It is also important to have an event or party to reveal the Dads Club to the school and community in order to make your presence known and invite other fathers to take part.
Tips for Growing Your Dads Club:
- Ask them to join! Nearly 50% of 2,700 men polled in a 2004 National PTA survey said they were not asked to join a Parent Group. Break that statistic by being the first to extend the invite and get more fathers involved.
- Make the invite meaningful & personal. Rather than enticing dads with an event or incentives for getting involved, go straight to the heart of the matter: Dads should get involved because it makes such a positive difference for the kids.
- Utilize the already existing communication tools of the PTO, such as the bulletin, website, email, upcoming events, etc.
- Check out this How-to-Guide from National PTA