As a separated or divorced parent, it’s not always easy to keep up on what’s happening with your children at school. At the best of times kids don’t communicate much about school with their parents, no matter how good you are at parenting. Asking how school was often elicits something like “Good” as a response, which isn’t especially helpful and getting more information can be like pulling teeth.
As a single dad it’s even harder, since you want to make the most of the time with your kids rather than pestering them for information about school – although, of course, you want to know if there’s a problem there, so you can do something about it.
But even as a single dad you can be more involved if you choose to be, and as a good father, you will certainly want to be. In many ways it becomes a parenting issue, as school is the main component of childhood these days.
The Responsibilities of Schools
If you have Parental Responsibility for your children as defined under the Children Act 1989, then you have a right to take part in all the decisions regarding the education of your children. That’s not just good parenting, it’s the law.
You have the right as a parent to receive information from the school, including attendance and performance reports on your children, to give permission as the father for trips and other activities, to participate in school activities and to be told about any meetings at school that involve your children.
If your ex hasn’t given information about you to the school, you can contact them directly, after which they have to provide you with information. In the case of school trips, then, permission has to come from both parents, and if only one gives permission, to stop possible conflicts, the child won’t be allowed to go. The school is also obliged to inform both parents where the child is ill or has medical issues.
How To Be More Involved As a Single Dad
If you’re on good terms with your ex, you could attend school meetings or parent’s evenings in her place, to talk to the teachers and get a good assessment of how your children are doing. You could also attend things like sports day or pick up the kids from school sometimes (although you might feel out of place as a father among all the mothers) – a perfect chance to talk to them about what’s been happening while it’s still fresh in their minds.
However, if you and your ex are not on good terms, it becomes a little more difficult. Talking to your kids about school is good when you’re a single dad, but even if they expand their answers, you’re only going to get one side of the story.
Talk to the school and see if you can arrange meetings with the teachers to discuss the progress of your kids. It shows that you’re involved as a parent – as you undoubtedly are – and good parenting, by wanting to know. But although fathers have traditionally been less involved in the education of children, leaving it to the wives, as a father alone you have to be more pro-active.
For single dads, it’s perfectly possible to remain very active and involved in your child’s education. You just have to make the effort to do it.