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Last year around this time, we tackled the question of whether child support should be used for school supplies. (Long-story-short? It depends on the terms of your support agreement.) But supplies aren’t the end-all-be-all of school success.
Here are six other ways single dads can help their kids succeed in school!
- Get to know key people at your child’s school.
Most dads get to know their child’s teacher and principal, but what about the nurse, the librarian, or the ultimate gatekeeper, the school secretary? It’s easy enough to attach a picture of you and your child to an email signature and periodically contact key personnel to ask relevant questions. It’s even better if you’re checking in to offer help.
- Keep updated contact information on file.
Have you moved? Changed your email or phone number? Make sure the school district office, the secretary at your child’s school and your child’s teacher all get an update. Not only is it essential they be able to reach you in an emergency, but this is a great time to remind people you want to be kept in the loop.
- Know and use school-specific resources.
During registration, be sure to ask about the best ways to stay up-to-date with what’s going on at the school. Teachers often have their own webpages or email lists. Parents sometimes start unofficial online discussion groups. Some districts even have their own apps now to keep families in the loop.
- Donate and volunteer.
Some parents are afraid to volunteer for fear they’ll be asked to do something every single week, but most teachers would find that a major inconvenience. They don’t want parents in their rooms all the time. So don’t worry. What they do appreciate is someone who is willing to step in when it’s really needed. Here are just a few ways you can help:
- Read to the class or one-on-one with students.
- Help decorate or make snacks for a classroom party.
- Lead, sponsor or coach a student activity group.
- Chaperone or offer to carpool for field trips.
- Ask what supplies the teacher or school needs.
- Pay attention to school board meetings.
It’s never been easier to be involved with school board meetings. Simply contact the school district secretary and ask if you can receive announcements and minutes. Most districts send out a shortened version by email a few days ahead of each meeting, giving you time to contact the superintendent for more information or to make time in your schedule to attend in person.
- Help your child get interested in academics.
Research proves what we’ve always known – most dads excel at having fun! Help your children’s scholastic development in exciting new ways. Is your son frustrated by his physics lessons? Take him to a skatepark for the day and talk about gravity and velocity on your way home. Is your daughter struggling to get excited about ancient history? Boot up Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and watch the mystery unfold. Remember, whether or not your kids get all A’s isn’t as important as whether they’re learning new things.
Getting involved with your child’s school can be intimidating, especially if your co-parent is usually the one who is involved. Your kids will benefit if you take the plunge. Whether you follow one step or them all, getting active will help your children have a more successful, productive school year.
Be sure to ask your child’s school if they need or want a copy of your parenting time agreement and/or custody order. Some will require it, others won’t want it, but they will all appreciate you offering it. It makes their job much easier, especially in the face of challenges by the other parent to your having access to your child or their school records.