It is that time of the year after we are done with the festive season, that my wife and I would start to prepare our children to resume another year of school.
In addition to settling the back-to-school administration, logistics and providing words of affirmation, we also took time to reflect on the past academic year with our children.
We began 2017 with the focus on being more present in their schools, which included accompanying our children to school on their first two days and back, and volunteering in the various parent support groups whenever our schedules permitted.
I also made a commitment to personally wake and send my child to school every morning, so I could get some uninterrupted time with him before we started our day.
Accompanying my child to school every morning was exhilarating at the beginning, but it started to take a toll on me as my work commitments increased. At one point, I even started to view it as a chore, and would dread the early morning routine.
What changed my perspective was when I noticed that my child would always look back at the school gate to see that I was still there, before he entered the clock tower towards his class. I realised that my presence reassured him that Daddy would always be there, watching his back.
Sometimes, I would walk my child to class whenever I had to deliver a short sharing on values education, and he would always wave to me and point me out to his friends when I appeared during assembly to share on topical interests of the school.
The benefits that my wife and I garnered from those volunteering experiences in school were three-fold.
First, we got to know the school leadership and administration better, and was assured of their dedication towards ensuring that our children got the best education in character-building, values and academics.
Next, we got to meet many other parents who were deeply invested in partnering the schools to ensure a holistic development for their children, and a community of support quickly formed amongst us.
Finally, our children seemed to appreciate our regular presence in school, especially during the major school events. And those moments that they observed us serving in school formed good conversation topics at home subsequently.
Since 2006, the Centre for Fathering had been advocating strongly for fathers to take time out from work in the first two days of the school year, to ease their children into a new class. This “Back to School with Dad” campaign strived to reassure children of our interest and involvement in their academic journey.
A Back to School with Dad card was also designed for fathers to pen a note of affirmation and encouragement, so their children could be pleasantly surprised during recess when they find it with the lunch box. For more creative ideas, Mommies would always be a good source of inspiration.
According to research, children whose fathers are highly involved in their schools are more likely to do well academically, participate in extracurricular activities and enjoy school. These benefits hold for both intact and single-parent families, and are independent from the effects of mother involvement (Nord, C., & West, J., 2001).
Almost 40 schools and 27,000 families are regular supporters of Back to School with Dad, and we hope that many more will pledge their support towards affirming children through our presence in schools, by registering with the Centre for Fathering.
The next Back to School with Dad falls on 2nd and 3rd Jan 2018. Don’t miss it!