The presence and involvement of men and fathers are essential to the health of communities. You’ve often heard the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I agree and would add, “It takes the entire village, including its men.” When mature, responsible men and fathers actively engage in their children’s schools, they are safer and more orderly.  In today’s blog, we will provide some suggestions for how you can be part of serving your community and your child’s school.

Servant Leading in Your Child’s School

Positive male role models greatly benefit elementary and secondary school campuses.

When mature, responsible men and fathers are present, they demonstrate that education is important. Some students, unfortunately, live in homes where education is not emphasized. In other cases, some of their peers discourage academic excellence by making it seem uncool. For further insight into building strong fatherhood communities, read my blog post “Joining in Community to Strengthen Your Fathering.”

Three Benefits of Father Presence in Schools

1. Mentorship and Support:

  • Male Role Models: Volunteers can provide mentorship and guidance for students lacking positive male figures, especially relevant for boys facing societal pressures or navigating adolescence.
  • Academic Boost: Volunteers can offer one-on-one tutoring or assist with homework, addressing individual learning needs and potentially improving academic performance.
  • Social and Emotional Support: By building relationships with students, volunteers can provide emotional support and encouragement, helping them develop social skills, confidence, and resilience.

2. Enrichment and Engagement:

  • Diverse Skills and Expertise: Volunteers can bring their professional skills and hobbies to share with students, offering unique learning experiences and sparking new interests. This could range from coding workshops to woodworking projects, financial literacy lessons, or music production sessions.
  • Extracurricular Activities: Volunteers can coach sports teams, lead clubs, or assist with field trips, providing additional opportunities for students to explore their interests, develop skills, and build teamwork.
  • Career Mentorship and Guidance: Volunteers can share their career paths and offer real-world insights, helping students explore future options and make informed decisions about their education and future goals.

3. Community Building and Support:

  • Fatherhood Engagement: Male volunteers can encourage and facilitate fathers’ involvement in their children’s education, strengthening family connections and contributing to a more supportive school environment.
  • School Events and Initiatives: Volunteers can lend a helping hand with school events, fundraisers, or community service projects, fostering a sense of collaboration and contributing to the overall well-being of the school.
  • Positive Male Presence: Simply having more positive male figures present in the school can help break down stereotypes and create a more inclusive environment for all students.

Adult male volunteers also enhance the security of students by providing extra sets of eyes, and they reduce bullying.

Ways for Fathers to Get Involved in the Child’s School

Contact your child’s school administration or local community organizations for potential volunteer service opportunities. Some communities have organizations and programs that focus on male volunteerism in schools. One good example of an organization that provides fathers opportunities to become involved in their child’s school is an organization called “Watch DOGS.”

Watch DOGS is a national educational initiative in the United States that encourages fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and other male figures to volunteer at their child’s elementary school for at least one day a year. DOGS stands for “Dads of Great Students.” The program aims to provide positive male role models for students, enhance school security, and reduce bullying.

Watch DOGS History:

  • It was founded in 1998 in Arkansas by Jim Gillum, a retired law enforcement officer, after witnessing a lack of positive male role models in his grandson’s school.
  • Grew rapidly through word-of-mouth and media coverage, expanding to all 50 states.
  • Now serves over 50,000 schools and involves millions of volunteers nationwide.

Watch DOGS Program Structure:

  • Schools typically hold “Launch Events” or information sessions to introduce the program and recruit volunteers.
  • Fathers or other male figures sign up for a day to volunteer at their child’s school, participating in various activities like:
    • Assisting teachers in classrooms
    • Mentoring students individually or in small groups
    • Monitoring hallways and lunchrooms
    • Participating in special events or field trips
    • Sharing their careers and hobbies with students

Watch DOGS Benefits:

  • For Students:
    • Positive male role models and mentors
    • Improved academic performance and classroom behavior
    • Reduced bullying and an increased sense of security
    • Exposure to diverse viewpoints and career paths
  • For Schools:
    • Additional support for teachers and staff
    • Enhanced school safety and climate
    • Increased parental involvement and community engagement
  • For Volunteers:
    • Meaningful opportunity to contribute to their child’s education and the community
    • Connect with their child and other students
    • Gain new skills and experiences

Learn more at the Watch DOGS website: https://dadsofgreatstudents.com/parent-volunteers/

Additional Organizations and Programs Focused on Father Volunteerism in Schools

National Organizations:

Regional/Local Organizations:

  • Project READ: (Boston, MA) Volunteers read with elementary school students, specifically targeting boys with low reading scores.
  • Dads on Duty: (Chicago, IL) Male volunteers patrol school hallways and foster positive relationships with students.
  • Men of Valor: (Washington, DC) Mentorship program pairing retired black men with at-risk youth.
  • Man Up Texas: (Houston, TX) Initiative promoting positive male role models and fatherhood engagement.
  • Fatherhood Incorporated (Los Angeles, CA) Supports fathers through workshops, support groups, and community events.

Blessing Your Community

The fathers in your community can benefit greatly from your servant leadership. Consider organizing a weekly gathering of dads. Together, you can:

  • Get encouragement and support from other dads on the same journey.
  • Learn new tips and strategies for parenting, marriage, and relationships.
  • Have fun and build memories with your kids.
  • Make a difference in your family and community.
  • Discuss the content of these Fathering Strong blogs and other resources on the website.
  • Share your stories.

The Fathering Strong app lets you and your village dads connect virtually on mobile devices.   

For more ideas for hosting a local father’s group and/or helping set up a Fathering Strong Dad’s community, chat with me on the Fathering Strong app or email ewilliams@urbanight.org.   

Instruction from the Holy Scriptures

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”

– Romans 15:1-2 The Message

Join Fathering Strong

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Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Click here to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.