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Educational involvement of fathers versus mothers


Much research on parental involvement remains blind to gender imbalance, discussing „parental involvement” without respect to which parent is in fact involved. By not recognizing the differences between the participation of mothers and fathers, there is an “implicit assumption is that family–school relationship frameworks function similarly for fathers and mothers” (Kim and Hill 2019, p.919). Meanwhile, there is a general consensus that the involvement of fathers in education and all aspects of child upbringing is highly beneficial for academic success and well-being of children (e.g., Potter, Walker & Keen 2012). Although there is limited understanding of reasons and consequences of lacking involvement of fathers, literature consistently points out that it is mothers who are predominantly engage with educational institutions. In one US-based study of early childhood education among low-income families, 73 % of parental involvement was done by mothers and only 8% by father, with the rest by grandparents or other relatives (Fantuzzo et al. 2004). Considering that fathers’ involvement is a relatively un- or under-explored aspects of parenting interventions, there is a need to understanding strategies of involving fathers more. 


Admittedly, many interventions focus mainly on mothers, designed with the assumption that only mothers engage in their children’s education (e.g., Panter-Brick et al. 2014). Hence, interventions should specifically target fathers. With that, some research suggests that “gender-differentiated approach, which did not altogether exclude mothers but focused on involving fathers, may be more effective for some men” in terms of engaging them in the school’s life (Grayson 2013, 18). 


The Fathers Transition Project was a one-year pilot run in a deprived area of northern England, aiming to engage fathers and male carers. The Project

“involved a series of activities designed to appeal to males, which were attended by fathers and children…. Face-to-face contact was reported as the most effective means of persuading fathers to take part initially, and during the intervention they received intensive follow-up contact via mobile phone. Key to the success of the scheme was the use of a dedicated Fathers Transition Worker who came from a similar background to the participants. This individual was able to forge relationships and build trust with fathers … [because] practitioners with an intuitive understanding of local cultural beliefs may be more effective in areas of disadvantage” (Grayson 2013, 18).