The One Thing You Need To KnowFathers make an impact in all facets of their children's lives - including academic success.
In the 21st century, the role of ‘father’ has changed. It’s safe to say that most people do not expect fathers to take on the role of sole breadwinner, primary disciplinarian or take a backseat to mothers when it comes to raising children. As this outdated thinking about the role of the father dissipates, dads who are truly involved in their children’s lives are making a significant difference in many areas – including the realm of education.
The Canadian Father Involvement Initiative (CFII) is a non-profit organization based in Carleton Place, Ontario. CFII defines an “involved father” as: “…a father who knows and enjoys his kids, one who shares with his partner the work and the play of raising them, one who understands them well and can handle their daily routines. We mean a man who has his own direct, close relationship with his children.”
In the 2001 census there were 4.2 million fathers in Canada. How do these modern-day dads parent their children? “I think fathers parent differently than mothers…but it’s just as important,” says Glenn Sacks, a journalist and the executive director of Fathers and Families – an advocacy and research organization. Sacks adds, “….fathers who are around [these days] are more hands-on.”
Fathers need to realize the important contribution that they make in every facet of their kids’ lives – sometimes the father’s role is dismissed as less important to the mother’s but this is simply not true.
According to an Australian study entitled The Changing Role of Fathers conducted by Graeme Russell, “The ideas that fathers do not have the ability to care for children and that it is not good for families to have fathers take a major responsibility for care-giving are not supported by recent research findings.” The report also states that, “fathers in shared-care (two partner) families saw that they had improved relationships with their children.”
While paid work may get in the way of full involvement, fathers can stay in touch with children in the mornings, evenings or on weekends. Simple activities like playing catch, going to the park, building Lego, shopping for groceries together, or singing songs can bring great joy to kids. Dads who have more time or enjoy group activities may want to volunteer to coach their child’s t-ball team, volunteer on a school field trip or join a “dad and tot” program at their local library or community centre.
Involved Dads = Success in School
Whether today’s dads are helping kids with homework, attending parent-teacher interviews, or reading to children at bedtime, the positive impact that involved fathers make resonates in their children’s academic success. According to information from CFII, school-aged children of involved fathers demonstrate the following attributes:
-They are better academic achievers
-They are more likely to get As
-They have better quantitative and verbal skills
-They have higher grade point averages, receive superior grades, or perform a year above their expected age level on academic tests
-They demonstrate more cognitive competence on standardized intellectual assessments
-They are more likely to enjoy school, have better attitudes toward school, participate in extracurricular activities, and graduate.
Glenn Sacks was a stay-at-home dad for three years and is still very much involved with his children’s school and social needs. While he loves being involved with his two children, Sacks feels that educators sometimes lag behind the times when it comes to involving fathers in their children’s schooling. “Even now,” says Sacks, “if something happens at school, [teachers] still call my wife. She will tell them, ‘call my husband – he deals with that stuff.’”
So, with all of this useful and important data backing up the important role of fathers, what else do dads need to get more involved? Sacks has advice for dads who truly want to be more involved with their children: “Just do it,” he says simply.