Being in education for the last 10 years, I know how important it is to have parents involved in their child’s education. When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to have my mom be home full time while my dad worked. She was who I went to for help with homework, art projects (I could make a mean stick figure man!) and the everyday stuff that goes along with a typical day of school. My father worked hard, leaving for work at 6:30am and somewtimes not coming home till 7 or 8 at night. Besides getting invovled with our sports and scout trips, he would try and get involved in my school through field trips. It was a great way to spend more time with him and I know he got a kick out of long trips in a hot school bus.
Now I find myself in his shoes, but with a little twist: both my wife and I work full time and have three little ones to care for. By the time I get finished with pick up from three schools, get my oldest started on homework and violin practice, and think about how to get dinner started, I don’t have enough mental energy for the countless demands that homework brings. Its what I see in the classrooms that I teach in which gives me the boost of energy that I need: kids that have at least one parent who takes time to review their childs work do better at school. I don’t have numbers and volume of proven research – I just have my own observations for the past ten years. So, dads, what can we do?
1. No matter what shift you work or how much time you are in the house, take 15 minutes each night and look in your kids book bag. Many times there is a folder that goes between home and school. Read up on assignments, school notices, and do a quick spot check of homework to make sure it’s done. My rule of thumb: if I can take 15 minutes to look at Facebook and Twitter every night, I can review my kids folder.
2. For dads that travel a lot, write some quick messages on sticky notes before you leave and have someone place them in your child lunch beanbag throughout the week. While Skype is great for that face-to-face interaction, never underestimate the power of a note in a lunch bag.
3. When you are home, drop the “baggage” at the door and be home. Put the phone away and be a dad. While this is the hardest to do, it’s the most important. The emails, tweets, and sport scores will be there when the crew is in bed. Most dads don’t think kids take notice, but after listening to my students, I can stay they do notice and its not in a positive way.