5 Ways to Get Dad Involved in Early Childcare Programs

Fathers Have Increased Role With Caring For Kids

dad and son

Family roles continue to change, especially in today's over-scheduled, stressful environment. Studies show that about two-thirds of mothers of young children work outside the home. Currently, about 40% of fathers work more than 50 hours per week at work. The conflict between career and family continues, and childcare from dad is especially needed in a two-career family.

With all that said, dads in most cases are no longer wanting only the role of "breadwinner" and are looking to be more involved and spend more quality time with kids. Fathers want to be involved and are trying to spend more quality time with their kids.

Research from a U.S. Department of Education study indicates that the role of fathers in school and childcare helps with the achievement of children. Research found that the children from two-parent homes where fathers participated in activities (such as school meetings; parent-teacher conferences; school or childcare activities or events; or volunteerism) were more likely to receive higher grades, participate in extracurricular activities, and be happier in a childcare or school setting.

Here are some ways that dads can get involved in early childcare:

Communicate with Fathers

Learn both parents’ names and then remember them. Direct all communication—phone calls, e-mails, letters home— to both parents. Take a look at your program’s forms. Do they include a place for both parents to sign? Invite mothers and fathers to participate in meetings, conferences, and special events.

If there are fathers who rarely or never visit the program, seek them out and let them know that involvement from both parents is important for their child.

Offer Activities for Both Parents

Childcare providers sometimes say fathers prefer activities specifically for dads only. The study says otherwise, indicating that dads prefer to attend activities with their wives and families. These types of activities include preschool parties, PTA, volunteer positions that spouses and partners can do together, parenting classes, and projects. Bottom line is to get dad involved at school.

Schedule Activities After Work Hours

Plan according to when most working parents can indeed attend. If additional father involvement is sought, care programs and activities should be scheduled accordingly. Think creatively about other ways dads can help because dads who work during the day may need to be flexible as they think about ways to participate in school activities. Ask dads to help with tasks that can be done at home, such as cutting out shapes in preparation for art activities.

Encourage In-class Participation

Let dads share their talents. If you have special talents, why not bring these into the classroom? Do you have a favorite recipe or know a fun game or play an instrument? Bring your skills into your chid's classroom and teach them something you know how to do.

Tell Fathers That You Appreciate Their Involvement

Fathers should be told thank you and given support throughout the year and not just on Father's Day. Dads contribute to the financial, emotional, and academic success of children, and need to be praised for their efforts. Plan special events during the year where fathers are invited to school.

Most dads want to do their part well with raising children to become successful adults and any extra help, guidance, support and reinforcement is desired as much by dads as moms. And, the best part is that children benefit through happier families working together and dads and moms involved productively in their lives.

2 Sources
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  1. Pew Research Center. Chapter 4: How mothers and fathers spend their time.

  2. U.S. Department of Education. National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. A call to commitment: Fathers’ involvement in children’s learning.

By Robin McClure
 Robin McClure is a public school administrator and author of 6 parenting books.