Why Pre-School Teachers Like Having Dads Involved
How dads can ease their young children’s adjustment to the new school year.
Posted Sep 26, 2018
When my older brother had his first child, he was determined to be an involved dad. But, by the time his daughter was ready for preschool, he had drifted. Young academic careers don’t build themselves, and providing for a new family in an expensive city is pre-occupying to say the least. So, when his firstborn headed off to pre-K, he recommitted to his ‘promise to self’ and worked it out so that he would take her or pick her up every other day. When he didn’t see a lot of other dads at the drop-off or pick-up, he wondered how dad-friendly their carefully chosen pre-K might turn out to be. He made an effort to be sure to greet her teachers, trying, as we all do, to get a bead on whether they know how special our kids actually are. After some initial questions about why he was doing drop-off, he and the teachers settled into a conversational rhythm, allowing him to ask if he could honor his daughter’s request to “come read to my new friends.” When he did just that, he was surprised to see how welcoming and facilitating of his presence the teachers turned out to be. The other children treated him like a rock star (which he wasn’t), asking when he would come back to finish another book.
In my years of consulting for pre-Ks and kindergartens, I have seen the same. Teachers love to have dads in school. Why? Usually, the staff are all female, so dads in the classroom are novel; therefore, they’re attention focusing. They are more likely to playfully tease and lighten the mood. This translates into more kids paying better attention to the dad-lead activity, whatever it may be. After his visit, it did not go unnoticed by my brother that the teachers were more forthcoming about his daughter’s strengths. Since this seems to be a winning strategy all-around, here is how to make life better for your preschool, pre-K and kindergarten kids:
- Take your children to school or pick them up from school whenever possible. The things that you will learn at those transitions matter a lot and often disappear after the ride home. So, listen carefully and actively to what they say about school life, and let them know that you heard what they said by repeating it back to them. Dads can talk about this stuff, too;
- Enter back-to-school nights, parent-teacher conferences, field trips, class parties and PTO nights into your calendar, ASAP. Your children notice that you vote with your feet;
- Arrange early in the year to visit the classroom to offer the teachers what you can in the way of your interests, such as your job, hobbies or - my favorite - to read to the class, which gives a huge bang for the buck. However, according to a National Center for Fathering (NCF) survey a few years back, 38% of dads never read to their kids. Dads who do so have kids who are earlier, better and more enthusiastic readers. Now that’s a head start;
- Check out one of the more effective school-father engagement programs, called Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students), which is accessible at dadsofgreatstudents.com. Find ideas and like-minded folks in this NCF-developed program.