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We all remember that feeling: making our way through noisy school hallways. Sounds of yelling, laughter, footsteps, lockers slamming, feet shuffling, doors opening and closing. The announcements burst through the loudspeaker, the bells ring, the hallway clears, and we sit down at our desks. Class is in session.

One of the things I’m challenged with as my kids grow up is, “how can I help them make sure they are getting the most out of their school year?” If you want to help your child get the most out of their school year, stop thinking about them returning to school and start thinking about your own. Children whose fathers are involved in their schooling early on show significant advantages in reading achievement and lower rates of grade retention. In nearly half of all two-parent families today both parents work full time, which is a sharp increase from previous decades. That means many parents are sharing the workload of working all day and running carpool duty as well. I encourage all dads to share the workload with school volunteering as well if your schedule permits.

While it may seem like moms appear to gravitate towards getting involved in and volunteering at the school, that doesn’t mean dads are excused. Research by the National Center for Education Statistics indicates that this is true even when a child’s mother is already involved in the school. A father’s involvement “exerts a distinct and independent influence” on a child’s success in school. What, then are the benefits of father involvement?

When fathers are involved in school, their children:

  • Learn more.
  • Perform better in school.
  • Exhibit healthier behavior.
  • Have fewer discipline problems.
  • Are more likely to participate in extracurricular activities.
  • Enjoy school more.

Here are a couple of suggestions if you find yourself pondering the best fit for you:

Volunteer in your child’s classroom. Volunteer with plays, special projects, or a regular literacy or math block. By assisting in your child’s classroom, you communicate to them that you care about their education.

Assist with an extracurricular activity. Assist with a sports team, or help out with homework club. When you help out with extracurriculars, you provide your child with opportunities that he or she may not have found elsewhere.

Attend school board meetings. Attending school board meetings are one of the best ways to stay up-to-date on the latest happenings at your child’s school.

Join the Parent Teacher Association. Joining your PTA is a great way to stay well informed, connect with teachers, and make your child’s school a better place.

Chaperone a field trip. Chaperone a field trip and share in your child’s excitement as he or she connects his or her learning in the classroom to the outside world.

Attend a school open house or “back-to-school night”. Familiarize yourself with your child’s teacher and the current curriculum. A lot has changed when it comes to teaching methods in the areas of math and literacy; take the time to understand those changes so when your kids ask you for help on their homework, you can assist them in it.

About the Author: Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative. As the father of two small children, he finds himself running the carpool line from time to time and trying to learn to be more involved with his kid’s education. 

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