When Fathers Care
Studies Prove Students Excel When Dads Are Involved at School
"It is a wise man who chooses a good grandfather," said Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher. Of course, we cannot choose our ancestry, but Confucius was onto something. According to an Associated Press article, it is a wise student who chooses a good father.
A report titled, "National Study Links Father's Involvement To Children Getting A's In School," says that "children do better at school when their fathers are involved in their schools, whether their fathers live with them or their mothers are also involved."
This doesn't surprise me. Several years ago, at the beginning of the school year, a kindergarten teacher told me her class was uncontrollable. She said she had never seen anything like this group.
I knew the majority of the students and their families since I worked at the same small school and lived in the same small community. I started matching students with their families and found that less than half of the class had both biological parents living at home. In many cases, dads were missing in action.
Fathers Are Key To Success
Eventually, the teacher decided to retire at the end of that school year because of the ongoing onslaught. The AP story indicates how that teacher's class might have performed if more fathers had either been living at home or had taken an active role in their child's education. For example:
Children who live in two parent families are more likely to get mostly A's, regardless of the level of the mothers' involvement. Children who live in single parent families headed by fathers are twice as likely to get mostly A's if their fathers are highly involved at school, compared with those whose fathers have little (none or only one school activity) involvement.
While non-custodial fathers are less likely (only 31 percent participate in any school activity) to participate at school than custodial fathers, when they are involved, they make a difference, particularly for children in grades six and above. Their children are much more likely to get A's, enjoy school, participate in extracurricular activities and are less likely to repeat a grade.
In single parent families, children living with single fathers or single mothers are about equally likely to have highly involved parents, 46 percent and 49 percent respectively. When fathers have primary responsibility for raising their children, they are almost as involved in school activities as mothers in either two or single parent families. And the involvement of single parents -- both mothers and fathers -- is similar to that of mothers in two parent families.
Families with high parental involvement in their children's schools are more likely to visit a library, museum or historical site with their children, and are more likely to have high educational expectations for their children.
The report also cited other studies which showed that the more involved a father is with the student's activities at school the greater the likelihood of the student's success. The study actually indicated that when a father is involved with activities, the child is more likely to be a straight A student.
ESPs Make Good Dads
After reading the study, it occurred to me why my children and those of many of my education support professional (ESP) friends are successful. Every ESP I know is involved with the majority of activities of the school where they work and where their children attend.
Whether it is a fundraiser, sporting event, scholar bowl, open house, science fair or dance, I guarantee that you will always find ESPs doing what they can to help their children and the hundreds of others they have "adopted" through the course of their duties.
(Dave Arnold, a member of the Illinois Education Association, is a custodian at Brownstown Elementary School in Southern Illinois. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NEA or its affiliates.