I am blessed each year with a handful of classroom volunteers that help with photocopies, grading, cutting and working with students. These volunteers are such a huge help to me and my students love it when their parent comes in to volunteer. But recently I noticed that ALL my volunteers are moms. And that got me thinking....it is mostly moms at conferences, it's mostly moms at classroom performances.....and it's mostly moms as field trip chaperones. Where are the dads? All of my students' dads work full time outside of the house. Many moms do too, but I do have some stay-at-home moms, moms who work from home and moms who take off work to come on a field trip or attend a class party. I know dads are very busy, but I also wonder if dads don't come to the classroom because they feel uncomfortable and don't really know how to help. And so my mission to get dads in our classroom began!
Read Aloud Invite
How about setting aside 10 minutes at the start of every Friday for a guest dad read aloud? Set up a Sign Up Genius invite and specifically ask dads if they would be willing to come in and read one of their favorite picture books. I highly recommend doing this at the start of your day as it is probably easier for a dad to come in on his way to work or be a few minutes late to work than to leave in the middle of the day. After he leaves, you can increase the academics by asking questions about the text that relate to the weekly reading standard. You can also have your students write thank you notes to the dad in writing.
Guest Speakers (a career day)
What careers do the dads from your classroom have? Do any of the careers correlate with a topic you are teaching in science or social studies? If you have a dad who is a doctor, consider inviting him to talk to the class about how the body works, nutrition or how to avoid getting sick. If you have a dad who is a soldier, consider inviting him in to talk around Veterans or Memorial Day. If one of your dads is a firefighter, they will usually come in and talk about fire safety! I bet there are many dads in your class that could come in and talk to your students about the importance of going to college!
To increase the academics, make sure that you teach your students have to be great audience members (listening skills) and how to ask appropriate questions (speaking skills). After the guest speaker leaves, have students write thank you notes and/or informational reports about what they learned.
How about throwing a class Superbowl party and sending invitations to the dads? Every dad won't be able to make it, but I have gotten a good chunk. The kids love having their dads at the party and the dads seemed comfortable because of the fun football theme. Every minute of class time is so valuable, so I use the party to continue practicing and reviewing math skills. You can make stations around your room with THESE free math journal prompts. Dads can be put with a small group of students and that can rotate around the room together.
When they complete a problem, I allow them to choose a Football Party Favor from the bowl! After we do our "work," we enjoy some fun food together!
What do you do to encourage dads to participate in the classroom?