Did you know that in the first 18 years of your child’s life, 7.1 years will be spent in school? Over one-third of the days you have with your child until they go to university or leave school to go to work will be spent going to school. Your child’s education is important and every year counts. For my five children, that often meant different schools for different needs, including private school, some public school and homeschooling for 12 months when we travelled around Australia.
I have a lot of admiration for teachers. My wife trained as a teacher and used her skills in paid work over the years, especially before we had children. Teachers work hard and the conscientious ones work even harder. School can also be hard for our children. That’s one good reason dads should get involved in their children’s education.
In Australia, most states are going back to school this week. Now is the time for Dads to get ready to support their children in their schooling endeavours. All Pro Dad in the USA create some great resources for Dads, so I have Australianised this great article called “10 Tips for Back to School“. I have added a few comments of my own in places.
Depending on where you live, your kids may already be thinking about school supplies, new schedules, and what the next grade is going to look like. Here are a few tips for back to school so you won’t be blindsided by what’s coming. Whatever age your children are, you can be a step ahead of the game, but also be their number one resource too.
There’s a lot that on-the-ball dads can do to make sure home and school are well connected. From computer hook-ups to being aware of carry-over academic challenges, we can have a game plan in place designed to give everyone involved a solid start and a leg up.
Sometimes the details can appear overwhelming, but there’s a lot we can do now to make life smoother all year around. Check out these 10 Tips for Back to School and get ready to look like the hero you are.
- Be in the know.
Okay, Dad, don’t be clueless. You need to know the details — you need to know what is expected, both of you and your child. Put the exam schedule on your calendar. Know how to log into your child’s grade account. For upper school students, get a copy of the course syllabus so you have a heads up on projects. After all, you might be able to help them with some.
- Have a plan with clear expectations.
The time to be involved in the coming term is now. We are exponentially more likely to be productively supportive when we know exactly what that means, and our children are more likely to be successful when they have confidence in Dad.
- Hook up the technology.
Most schools have ways for kids and parents to be connected with news, assignments, grades, and issues via the Internet. Be a good tech-dad and make sure every line of communication is free and clear. You might need to get access codes and links to help you better connect
- Plan to attend orientation and parent-teacher meetings.
It’s important that our children understand that we are invested in their education. Meet the teacher(s), get a copy of the schedule, and make it clear to your children that school is a family priority.
- Believe in your child.
Kids can sense uncertainty. Make sure your belief is genuine and make it contagious. Conversely, negativity and doubt communicate eloquently and devastatingly, with or without words. As Dale Carnegie said, “Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
- Coach your child to succeed.
Fist-bumps, notes in the lunchbox, rehearsal drills on the basics. Maybe some dry runs and reconnoitres are needed. It is always your decision. Importantly, Dad can set the tone and provide the impetus to move forward into the new school year.
- Set boundaries.
If internet, TV, sports, or friendships are getting in the way of academics, you need to step in and limit those things.
- Sign up for something (anything!).
You may or may not be a dad with tons of available flexitime, but you can always be involved in something. Children love to see their dad at the school. Dad signing up is a huge positive for any kid in any grade.
- Talk over the challenges.
It does no one any good to be blindsided by difficulty. Is there a problem in math? Tutoring should already be under way. Are there medical issues? Make sure the arrangements are clear. Behavioural concerns? Your children need to understand the plan and the consequences before school begins. As a parent, you need to support the school’s discipline. Divide and conquer is the motto of every child if they can get away with it.
- Model excitement.
If Dad and Mom are positive about the coming term and the new schedule, chances are the kids will fall in line. As a great man once said, “Act enthusiastic and you will be enthusiastic.” Mentally prepare yourself on the way home from work so that you can help your kids with homework when you get there.
School can be a joy or a drain for our children.
Having Dad actively involved in the process is likely to make it more enjoyable for them. Who wouldn’t want that?
Yours for the Joy of Learning,