Want to Be the Rad Dad on Campus? Just Show Up!
The school year is underway and that means back to the trenches for moms who want to be actively involved in their kids’ schools. There are fundraisers to spearhead, volunteers to recruit, teacher goodies to assemble, field trips to chaperone, reading and math buddies to line up, and so on and so on. As a parent, you’re probably well-aware that the even the best schools rely on parents to fill in the gaps resulting from tight teacher and school budgets. (Simply take a peek into your child’s backpack and you’ll likely find sign-up forms and volunteer pleas galore.)
If your go-to is to forward all those forms and pleas to your child’s mother or mother figure, you’re certainly not alone. Stereotypically, “PTA moms” (many of whom are stay-at-home moms) rule the school from a volunteer standpoint. That’s doing everyone a disservice! Moms, teachers, students, and dads are missing out when dads are overlooked and under-recruited for school-related volunteering opportunities. Here are five reasons why.
1. Being active in your kid’s school sends a strong message to your kid. When you make it a priority to show up and volunteer your time at your child’s school, your child gets the message that you care — about him. It shows that you value education. Kids feel a sense of pride when they see their parents stepping up to help.
2. Dads usually don’t mind doing the heavy lifting. From hauling boxes for the book fair fundraiser, to helping set up a display for parent night, to installing equipment for the school carnival, some duties require more physical effort. That’s not to say moms cannot deliver, but more often than not, they are thrilled to defer these jobs to willing dads. And, teachers and staff feel more comfortable asking dads as opposed to moms to do the dirty work.
3. Moms deserve a break. Often, moms are responsible for driving carpool shifts, getting kids to after-school practices and lessons, attending teacher conferences and school meetings, etc. Dads who work traditional jobs often get a pass simply because of their work schedules. In reality, you probably can manage to take a couple hours out of your day to chaperone a zoo or museum trip or help with the class Christmas party. And, you’ll probably enjoy it. Your child will!
4. Dads on campus truly are father figures. In any school, you’ll find kids who live in single-parent homes. Some of these kids rarely, if ever, see their fathers. If you reach out to your child’s guidance counselors, you’ll probably discover that there are students who could benefit from a male role model. Even volunteering to have lunch with an at-risk student once a week can make a huge, lasting impact.
5. Dads like to socialize, too! When you have school-aged kids, much of your life revolves around school activities. You’ll enjoy this stage of life much more if you get to know your fellow dads. Whether your school has an official “Dad’s Club” or you just spend more time at school pitching in wherever you can to help, you’ll naturally meet other like-minded dads. You’ll establish friendships and those friendships will probably spark ideas for ways to improve the school that brought you together in the first place.
Creating a nurturing, safe, fun school environment takes a village. Volunteering to further the cause not only helps students and teachers, it’s intrinsically rewarding. Vow to be a “yes man” next time your child’s school asks for helpers! Or, if you have more time to devote, why not spearhead a Dad’s Club if your child’s school doesn’t have one? Time spent enriching your child’s school is time well spent.