Ump, Ref, Coach, Scout leader, all terms usually associated with men involved with children. Men are expected to fill these roles the same way that their dads, uncles and grandfathers did in previous generations.
Male involvement in these activities that affect children in positive ways is great, but it is not enough. Men need to understand that their involvement should not end at the sidelines on the weekend or at the edge of the woods during a camping trip. Men need to understand how important their role in the education of their children.
Most of the time the most engaged male is ‘dad’, but still not as often as should be. Many kids are raised without a positive male role model in the house, and it is the kids who suffer. There are many reasons for an absent father figure from separation/divorce, travel for work, military deployment, illness, death, and many others. Grandparents, uncles, brothers and neighbors are stepping in, and it does make a difference.
Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning and academic achievement among adolescents.1
Local PTAs have not only the ability, but have the responsibility to educate dads, grandpas, uncles and others on the importance of their involvement in education. Make parent involvement and PTA relevant to men by connecting it to their children’s success in school and in life. Share with men the many benefits of family engagement.
Share with dads and male father figures that their involvement in PTA:
Many men involved in the PTA started the way that I did, going to the meetings my wife could not make with her schedule. Others started as seat fillers to get a quorum at a meeting for a vote that was important to someone. No matter how we started going to the meetings we learned that the PTA is not just a club that does bake sales and holiday decorating.
Getting the men in the door is just the first step. Keeping men involved in the process requires a little more. Meetings need to be planned out, with an agenda that is easy to follow and to the point. A debate over colors of table cloths at a function should not take over a general meeting where the more important matters are to be discussed. Meetings that run too long because of details are a major reason why men do not return.
PTA has come a long way from where it was started as a women’s organization. In the past few years we have even had two male National PTA presidents and more men are getting involved every day.
Most male PTA members say they joined PTA to work to improve their schools for the benefit of their children. Tell prospective members that they can do the same.
Emphasize that getting involved in PTA does not necessarily involve a large time commitment. Men may indicate that time is a barrier to their joining PTA. Let them know there are no volunteer requirements when joining, but that their membership helps support the programs and work of your PTA. As they discover the value of PTA and their involvement, men will be more likely to volunteer.
Organizations in the PTA MORE® (Men Organized to Raise Engagement) alliance are dedicated to raising the level of engagement between children and the important men in their lives. Coalition members of PTA MORE serve as a conduit for greater father and significant male involvement, resulting in positive outcomes and successful relationships for children, parents, schools and communities.
PTA MORE helps PTA leaders and units:
All Pro Dad, founded by Tony Dungy, is a program of Family First, an organization dedicated to strengthening the family. All Pro Dad programs include:
Fort Worth, Texas
Strong Fathers-Strong Families is a training, technical assistance and facilitation organization that is focused on strengthening children by strengthening fathers and families. Through staff training, consultation, and event facilitation, Strong Fathers-Strong Families works with Head Starts, public schools and churches as well as other organizations. The goal is to improve the educational environment in order that men may become more involved in the lives of their children.
Shawnee Mission, Kansas
WATCH D.O.G.S. is a program of the National Center for Fathering focusing on prevention of violence in schools by using the positive influence of fathers and father-figures to provide an unobtrusive presence in the schools, and to be a positive role-model for students.
Through WATCH D.O.G.S. participation:
1Goldstine, H. S. (1982). Fathers' absence and cognitive development of 12-17 year olds. Psychological Reports, 51, 843-848; Nord, C., & West, J. (2001). Fathers' and mothers' involvement in their children's schools by family type and resident status [On-line]. Available: nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2001032.