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Top Tips For Dads Getting Involved With Kids who Struggle in School

All kids benefit from having their dads involved at home and school. This is especially true when a child has learning and/or attention problems. Learn how to make it happen!

By Brian Inglesby, M.A., L.E.P.

Policy makers and educators agree that a child is more likely to succeed in school if her family is involved in her education. Parent participation usually means mothers' involvement in school-related issues because many fathers have been reluctant to get involved.

In 1998, the U.S. Department of Education focused on the interaction of fathers and school. Results showed that kids were more likely to do well academically, to participate in extracurricular activities, and to enjoy school if fathers were involved in their education. If dads had a high involvement in schools, kids were less likely to repeat a grade or be suspended or expelled. Overall, the results show that fathers can be a positive influence in their kids' education.

Here Are 10 Top Tips for Dad's Involvement:

  1. Maintain a healthy and loving relationship with your wife or partner. It's the most important thing you can do to support your child with LD or AD/HD. Adult and family relationships become stressed when a child is identified with a learning disability. Your child will do better if the adults present a united approach.
  2. Create an environment in your home that promotes open communication about your child's LD or AD/HD. Your child is the main player in understanding the learning issues and must be an active participant in the development of a management plan.
  3. Get information about your child's LD or AD/HD. Learn the appropriate words to describe how your child processes information. Never use demeaning remarks to describe her learning difficulties.
  4. Attend your child's school conferences and/or special education IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings. Fathers' participation at meetings can change the dynamics of the discussion significantly and influence the outcome for the positive.
  5. Be positive and supportive when solving problems. Acknowledge your child's difficulty, but model resilient behavior. It's possible to learn to manage issues as difficult as reading, writing, or math.
  6. Emphasize the things she can do, rather than what she can't. Every child needs to feel like an expert in something. Help your child identify her talents and support her interests.
  7. Emphasize quality of interactions with your child, rather than the amount of time spent together. Work schedules can be quite hectic, and there can be a lot of pressure to "just spend time together." You don't necessarily need to spend long periods of time together to create wonderful memories that last a long time.
  8. Follow through on promises made to your child with LD or AD/HD. Having LD can feel like riding a roller coaster. The fewer the unexpected upsets or disappointments, the better.
  9. Model patience and understanding by showing your child that you can remain focused even during times of distress. Ignore negative behaviors and reinforce positive strides. Parenting a child with LD or AD/HD may be very taxing on one's patience.
  10. Don't be afraid to seek support from other parents or professionals. There are no hero awards for the dad who "goes it alone" and refuses to seek advice from others. Your child will recognize your distress and may feel like she's let you down.

Brian Inglesby, M.A., is a licensed educational psychologist who enjoys the challenges of working with students with a broad spectrum of learning issues. Of special interest to him is the opportunity to provide teachers, parents, and students with the ability to better understand and manage a student's unique learning profile.


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