8 Tips for Fathers to Help Their Kids Succeed in School

Homework in kindergarten! I didn’t think that was supposed to happen, but my kindergarten son had it every week. And that meant my wife and I had homework every week—and a weekly test of my patience. As a 5-year-old, my son wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about it, so we had to prod and cajole and help him get it done.

Turns out, even though I’m not my child’s teacher, I am a big part of his educational journey. Even though we’re not with our kids during school hours, as dads, we play a huge role in the success they have there. As we start a new school year, what can we do as fathers to help our children get the most out of their time in school? I asked teachers and administrators for advice, and here are 8 tips they offered on how to help your child succeed in school.

1. Be interested in what your kids are doing.

Ask your kids questions about school every day, questions like these: “What was your favorite part of today? Who did you help today? What is one part of today you wish you could redo?” Listen closely to their answers and ask follow-up questions. This helps them open up and lets them know they can always come talk to you about anything. Don’t forget, if we really want our kids to feel like we’re interested in them, we must be truly present with them. That means putting our phones down. To show genuine interest in our children and build trust with them, we’ve got to give them undivided attention.

2. Get involved at school.

Schools need dads on their committees, like the site-based decision-making team, PTO, and so on. The perspective of dads is often missing as these committees tend to be populated by moms. The impact you can have is significant because these committees help principals make important decisions. You could also join or start an All Pro Dad chapter at your school to strengthen your relationship with your kids and empower other dads to do the same.

3. Help out at school in the mornings.

Mornings set the tone, but the beginning of the day at school is often busy and chaotic. Dads can help ease the chaos though. Volunteer to direct traffic in the drop-off line, open car doors and greet students, assist with breakfast in the cafeteria. Volunteering like this shows your kids that you care about them and their school.

4. Read, read, read.

A high school principal, special education teacher, and pre-K teacher all stressed this one to me. Read to your children early and often so they develop a love of reading that will help them in school and for the rest of their lives. If you didn’t read to them when they were young, it’s never too late to start. Students who read improve their vocabulary, reading comprehension, and standardized test scores.

Your kids are more likely to value their education if you do as well.

5. Build confidence.

Confidence, curiosity, and a willingness to try new things are key components to success in school. One way to help kids develop these qualities is the way we speak to them. Our words should be encouraging and uplifting. We are their inner voice. They will continue to hear what we say in their minds at school and for the rest of their lives.

 6. Show up.

This seems obvious, but it’s so important. Show up to everything your kid is involved in, from big events like games, award nights, or concerts to the smaller events like open houses and meet-the-teacher nights. Being there fosters deep connections of trust and builds self-esteem, confidence, and the desire to excel.

7. Embrace tough conversations.

Lots of people in the world, including at school, are sharing their values with your kids. Don’t let your voice be the only one missing. We need to be willing to ask hard questions, share our values, and walk with our kids through the difficult process of growing up.

8. Value education.

Tell your kids about how important education is. And tell them again. Your kids are more likely to value their education if you do as well.

Sound off: Do you know how to help your child succeed in school? What’s something else we can do to help a child have a good experience at school?

Looking for some fun? Check out iMOM’s 25 Back-to-School Activities and Ideas here!

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are your hopes and goals for this school year?”