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Fathers need to take the lead, says principal


Friday 5 December 2008

Fathers need to take the lead, says school principal.

Families need to take an active interest in their children’s education, especially fathers. That’s the view of school principal Robin Staples, who says that when parents value learning and success this lays a sound foundation for achievement at school and beyond. Not only does it contribute to academic success, but in his experience it also results in an improved attitude to other adults, greater resilience, and a positive outlook.

“Every young person responds to positive interest shown in them by an adult,” says Mr Staples, “but particularly their parents as it builds self-confidence and self-belief that they are a person of worth. Boys especially need male role models who value education, and they need to hear that men think education is important.”

A principal for 12 years in large low-decile Auckland schools, Mr Staples says that parental involvement also helps communication between home and school, because when parents understand what is expected they can guide young people to make the right choices.

“When parents are involved in their children’s schooling, including fathers, they send out strong and consistent messages that education is valuable, and this impacts positively on learning and social development and future tertiary success.”

This stance is supported by a US study of 2500 families that looked at the effect that fathers’ school involvement had on student achievement. The study found that in two-parent households, fathers are a strong and positive force in their children’s education, and when they become involved, their children’s academic performance and behaviour improve. Even after taking into account variable factors like household income, ethnicity, and residential status, the study showed children are still more likely to be successful in school if their fathers are involved.*

Although it’s just one factor in the jigsaw of scholastic success, what this means is that regardless of what part of the country they live in or their economic status, parents have a positive influence on educational outcomes for their children.

Mr Staples, who is the Director of Southern Cross Campus in Mangere, says that the school has encouraged parents to become involved by attending sports games, culture nights, NCEA meetings and parent interviews. The school cultivates a welcoming attitude and at the start of the year, parents are invited to meet the teachers and school leaders and show an interest in developments at the school. As a result of continued encouragement, more parents are coming on board, and student achievement is rising.

“It’s always a delight to see parents and fathers taking a prominent role in affirming their belief in their children’s future. The more they can do to encourage their children the better the results will be.”

*McBride, Schoppe-Sullivan, Ho The mediating role of father’s school involvement on student achievement. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Volume 26, Issue 2, March-April 2005


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