Fathers in Schools:
 How Dads Make a Difference

By Wesley Sharpe, Ed.D

Today, fathers are expected to take on multiple roles, including being participants in classroom activities and school meetings and events. Education World offers ways to help fathers connect beyond the traditional back-to-school night and parent-teacher conferences. 

Homework? — Help! According to a 1998 Census Bureau Report, the number of single fathers has grown 25 percent, from 1.7 million in 1995 to 2.1 million in 1998. Men now comprise one-sixth of the nation’s 11.9 million single parents. Mike Gowan is one of those dads. He is learning to cope with his multiple parenting roles. He admits, though, that sometimes the homework assignments his children bring home defeat him.

In his article Homework Help! Gowan describes his confusion about homework assignments. “It’s really frustrating to be a college graduate and yet have to tell your ten-year-old that you don’t have a clue how to complete his homework,” Gowan said.

“Sometimes I think the assignments are designed more to test the basic intelligence of the parents,”

Gowan told his readers.

A special reading time with dad. David Shaw’s son Ryan was in trouble almost from the beginning of first grade. According to his teacher, his social skills were poor and he was in the lowest reading group.

Shaw, a California computer consultant, works a flexible schedule, and he is able to attend regular conferences with his son’s teacher. They developed a reward system (McDonalds with dad) and Ryan’s reading and behavior improved.

“Now he loves to read, and he can’t wait to go to school,” Shaw told Education World. “Every day we have a special time to read together.” Ryan is reading grade level material and his teacher says he will be ready for second grade.

Doughnut and dads. Last month, Tincher Preparatory School celebrated its second annual Dad’s Doughnut Day. Fathers and significant men in children’s lives attended a coffee and doughnut breakfast in the school cafeteria. They the “dads” stayed and visited the classrooms of their children. This is a very popular event that has included 500 or more fathers and significant others.

“Photographs are taken of each father and his child,” Bill Vogel, school principal, told Education World. “The teaching staff structures activities that include the fathers. Writing exercises, science experiments, hands-on math, and technology lessons were among those activities.”

This is one of many activities at Tincher that promote a strong community and school-parent bond. Other events include Mom’s Muffin Morning, Grandparents Day, and a Power Lunch.