On Tuesday, September 16th, I’m proud to join fathers across New York State for “Dads Take Your Child To School Day.”
Instead of giving my son Felix a hug at the door before he heads off to school with his mom, I’ll take his hand and walk him there myself. Then I’ll stay for a bit in the classroom to participate in the morning activities. I’m more then happy to do this, because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s what my dad would have done for me.
For years when I was a kid, my dad arrived home from work before my mom. He was the parent who started cooking dinner, and also the one who would first check in with my brother and me about our homework. If I had trouble understanding my math, he’d sit down and explain it to me. If I had a test on the horizon, he might take the book and quiz me on my knowledge and memorization. And if I had a light workload then he might play catch or organize a football game outside. Later, when report cards and tests came home, both my mom and dad saw them. I never had any doubt that he was interested in and up-to-date on the work that I was doing at school.
I was lucky to have such a great model in my dad. The U.S. Department of Education has collected the results of numerous studies pointing to how important it is for dads to be involved in their children’s education. Here are just a few:
Dads model how grown men behave and conduct themselves in life.
When talking to my son about his behavior, I often point to how me and my male friends conduct ourselves, illustrating how we use our words instead of our hands to communicate, and treat other people with respect and kindness. This has come to make a big impression on him. It’s important for kids to see grown men carrying themselves with dignity and behaving mindfully, and with compassion, because they imitate our every move.
Dads encourage kids to take risks and explore.
Kids with active, engaged fathers tend to be highly curious about the world, and more adept at problem solving. A dad’s involvement seems to give kids more confidence in exploring the world around them.
Little boys and girls learn about how men and women interact with one another by watching their dads.
It makes a great impact on kids when dads regularly help around the house and treat the child’s mother with love and consideration. This helps break down rigid, unhealthy gender stereotypes, and improves a child’s self control. Kids who see their parents working well together tend to have solid marriages when they grow up. Beyond marriage, it’s important for kids to see men and women interacting in positive ways and dealing with one another respectfully.
And finally, when both dads and moms are engaged in their child’s education, the kid performs better and enjoys school more, no matter their class or racial background, or if the parents live together in the same house or apart.
Dads Take Your Child to School Day is meant to inspire and also teach dads how to be more involved in their child’s education. It began in 2003 and was based on the Black Star Project’s Million Father March. Schools may also take the opportunity to distribute info about male health and wellness, financial planning, and immigrant services for fathers who are new to the U.S.
Whether you’re a father in New York State or not, any day is a good day to take your child to school. Beyond that, inquire about volunteer opportunities, attend a Parent-Teacher Organization meeting, and most of all, ask your child about what they’re learning in school. Get involved! Your child will benefit from it, and really, so will you. My son’s questions about the world have led me to learn new things, and his watchful eyes inspire me to be my best self.