Media Contact
Dan Welch
Colorado Department of Human Services
303.866.3808
Maggie Spain
The Bawmann Group
303.320.7790

July 25, 2011

Back to School: Tips for Colorado Dads and Kids to Ease the Transition

As children dread the end of summer, Colorado dads can prepare to make the transition into the new school year as seamless as possible for the entire family. The steps dads take to prepare their children today can last long into the academic year and play an important role in improving their kids’ academic performance, helping them connect with peers and ensuring their safety at school. With the summer sunlight fading fast, Colorado dads are encouraged to take the steps necessary to make their children’s school year as successful as possible.

“Now is the perfect time for fathers to renew their commitment to being involved in every aspect of their children’s education,” said Dan Welch, fatherhood and family specialist with the Colorado Department of Human Services. “Children living in father-absent homes are more likely to experience educational, health and behavioral problems, are twice as likely to drop out of school and are twice as likely to repeat a grade in school than their father-present peers. A father’s involvement in his children’s education now is crucial to their success later in life.”

Help prepare your children to go back to school by following these easy tips courtesy of the National Center for Fathering. By serving as a reliable resource year round, you will be taking a more active role in your children’s academic success.

Listen to what’s happening. If your kids are stressed or upset about cliques, teams, new subjects or anything else, their learning environment can be compromised. Give them your attention and provide them with the opportunity to talk through the problem before jumping in with comments or suggestions. Carefully monitor anything that may be interpreted as bullying. If you believe your child is being bullied you can find resources to stop it at www.stopbullying.gov.

Help them keep perspective. School can be emotionally demanding. Gently remind your children that there are more important things than who’s wearing what or who is going out with whom. Show them in word and through actions that they are special and unique in their own way.

Set goals and monitor progress. Ask your children what a successful school year looks like to them. Discuss expectations regarding grades and after school activities and set aside time every week or month to monitor their progress and keep them accountable.

Celebrate success. Sometimes dads tend to focus more on what’s going wrong than what is going right. Be sure to praise or reward hard work and success and let your children know often how proud you are of their talents and accomplishments.

Honor their interests. Even if their passion isn’t your first choice for fun, be there for your kids. Let them teach you about their interests and learn why they are passionate about them. Your validation that what they are doing is right is a huge confidence booster.

Tell stories about when you were in school. Share your youthful struggles with your kids and try to relate with them on their level. Try to imagine what they are experiencing and put yourself in their shoes. Your understanding and empathy can help them make it through their own trials.

Let them learn through trial and error. School can be a great place for kids to learn important personal and interpersonal skills that will serve them well later in life. Don’t rush to solve their every problem. Listen and help talk them through the best possible solutions to problems they are facing.

Be present. Find out about events, performances, games and functions at your children’s school so that you can attend and make sure you are available to participate in parent teacher conferences at every opportunity.

Nurture your special father-child bond. School doesn’t have to be all work and no play. The beginning of the school year presents the perfect opportunity to begin a new tradition with your children. Make going out for ice cream, shooting hoops or a movie night a monthly tradition that they can look forward to.

                                                               --30--

In October 2006, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Works Division was awarded a $10 million federal grant distributed over five years to strengthen father/child relationships and improve parenting. Colorado is one of just two locations nationwide, including Washington, D.C., to receive this federal community access grant. The Responsible Fatherhood Initiative distributes more than $1.1 million in community awards to state, community and faith based organizations each year to assist in providing direct services to fathers and families. Awards of up to $50,000 are distributed per program per fiscal year. For more information on a fatherhood program in your community, please visit www.coloradodads.com.