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In many families, Mom is the primary contact between school and home. But Dad also has an important part to play in a child’s achievement and social/emotional adjustment at school. The Center for Educational Statistics reports that when a Dad attends a school event or a parent/teacher conference, the child is more likely to get “good grades” across grade levels and the likelihood decreases of her failing a grade or being suspended from grade 6 onward. This holds true even when Dad does not live at home. 

Sometimes fathers feel that they are not equipped to deal with school issues and so leave it to Mom. Dads send a very important message when they attend a Parent/Teacher Conference. The message is that your child’s schooling is important to you. Dads don’t have to say much – just listen with attention and perhaps ask a question. If the teacher tells you that your daughter in struggling in Spelling, for example, simply asking, “How can I help?” is powerful. This elicits advice from the teacher and the beginnings of a partnership in your child’s education. Visiting the classroom during Back to School Night is also a step in the partnership.

For children with learning challenges and/or ADHD, having a Mom AND Dad demonstrate engagement by attending school conferences, walking through the Science Fair or the school Carnival is an important signal. You also give teachers the chance to develop a less formal relationship with you. Your child’s peers will likely enjoy attention from you – even if it is just a friendly “Hello.”

Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues. If you have questions, please contact Mary Ann at mmulcahey@springer-ld.org.

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