Media Contact
Rich Batten
Colorado Department of Human Services
303.866.3808
Maggie Spain
The Bawmann Group
303.320.7790

September 6, 2007

Engaging Fathers in their Children's Education

DENVER – September 6, 2007 - The fall clothes, school supplies and snacks have all been purchased with the hope of giving your child every opportunity to succeed this school year. It is important to remember, though, that fathers can be their child’s biggest asset throughout the school year.

New classrooms, teachers and friends mean new challenges and changes for children. It also means new opportunities for fathers to demonstrate love, confidence and enthusiasm in their children’s lives. Luckily fathers can show their support and interest in their children’s lives and education by simply being there, asking questions and listening.

“A child’s academic success can easily be associated with his or her parent's involvement,” said Rich Batten, fatherhood specialist with the Colorado Department of Human Services. “Fathers can not only help with daily homework or special projects but they can also volunteer to go on field trips or help out in the classroom. Children who have fathers who engage in their daily lives, even in the simplest moments, exude more confidence, perform better in school and have a higher self-esteem.”

Leanne Sponsel, a licensed family educator with the View School District in St. Paul, Minnesota and a faculty member at Northwestern College, suggests the following when it comes to fathers talking to their children about their day at school.

  • Choose a time to talk when your child is comfortable. Some children are fountains of information right after school; others wait until dinner or bedtime to share their stories.
  • Try not to ask every day. As much as parents want to know what is happening, it can turn irritating for children to be asked daily.
  • Try asking unusual questions. “How was school?” rarely gets much of an answer. Try something like, “Did anything strange happen at school today?”
  • Change the venue and ask about one of your child’s friend’s days. Explaining what happened to someone else can be easier, and less threatening, than talking about yourself.
  • As a parent, you can help your child “place” herself back into the school day by saying, “Remember when you got into your room and everyone found a seat? What happened after that?” or “I remember that your teacher said you do the calendar and chart the weather. And I think projects are after that. Did it go that way today?”
  • Of course, if you practice these strategies your day should also become fair game to them. Far too many kids have no idea what their parents do during the day.

In October 2006, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Works Division was awarded a $10 million federal grant over five years to strengthen father/child relationships and improve parenting. Colorado is one of two locations nationwide, including Washington, D.C., to receive this federal grant. The Responsible Fatherhood Initiative distributes more than $1.1 million in community awards to state, community and faith based organizations 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, please visit www.cdhs.state.co.us/coworks/prf.htm.