Two weeks ago, I went to my son’s boarding school for the academic day and was struck by an interesting observation.
Being a teacher, I noticed that more than 90 per cent of the parents who visited were mothers. This situation left me wondering what happened to fathers because, as I noted, this had become ‘normal’. And the fact that this is at primary school level made it worse. These are formative years in which children need parents to help in shaping them.
First, we know that the more parents are involved in children’s academic affairs, the better the performance and emotional balance, confidence and enjoyment of school life.
This also helps the child stay away from unwanted and negative influences like smoking, alcohol and drug abuse.
However, it is the father’s absence that is astonishingly loud in this era when many are crying about the boy child suffering an identity crisis.
Now, more than ever before, an important area in which our society is significantly suffering, though, is the involvement of fathers in the education of children.
Many fathers are doing a great job of participating in the education of their children. However, there is still a large percentage not engaging with teachers, homework, schools, and the academic development of their children.
Research shows that fathers, like mothers, are pillars in the development of a child’s emotional well-being.
Children look to their fathers to lay down the rules and enforce them. They also look to their fathers to provide a feeling of security, both physical and emotional. Children want to make their fathers proud and an involved father promotes inner growth and strength.
So, in the circumstances of school and involvement of fathers, those children whose parents show concern and are involved are less likely to drop out, fail their exams, or develop behavioural issues.
What this means is that those early patterns of interaction are all children know, and it is those patterns that affect how they feel about themselves, and how they develop. When children feel supported at home and school, they are likely to develop more positive attitudes about school and academic work; have more self-confidence, and place a higher priority on academic achievement. Children of involved parents are more likely to feel that they’re accepted, included, and respected at school.
This is basically why parental involvement can help improve the standards and quality in our schools, raise teacher morale, and improve a school’s reputation.
Conversely, parents show concern for their children gain the respect of teachers; as a result, teachers have higher expectations on their children.
Involvement pays off in the long term, too. Children stay in school longer and are more likely to continue their education after high school.
At the personal level, when parents get involved in their children’s education, they become more comfortable and gain confidence in their parenting skills. And yet this is another area where fathers have scored low marks.
What this means is that it is important for a father to walk along his child as s/he performs practical skills that parents have. Imagine how many life skills could be learned if children watch and learn as parents take care of basic tasks at home.
Relationship with fathers is important as it is established that fathers not only influence who we are inside, but how we relate with other people as we grow.
The way a father treats his child will influence what he or she looks for in other people. Friends and spouses will be chosen based on how the child perceived the meaning of the relationship with his or her father.
What this means for fatherhood is that, unlike girls, who model their relationships with others based on their father’s character, boys model themselves after their father’s character. Boys will seek approval from their fathers from a very young age.
This is because, as human beings, we grow up by imitating the behaviour of those around us. That’s why when a father is absent, young boys look to other male figures to set the “rules” for how to behave and survive in the world.
A father is a very instrumental figure in the growth and development of children at home, in school and later in life.
If a father participates in the learning process at home and at school, this provides a spring board in the child’s later life.
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