Search form

Dad's Breakfast
Is DIY Dream


"I recall seeing a grandpa and a very quiet child working hard together to get their birdhouse just right," Debbie Montrose shared. "When the last nail was pounded, the child stood up and yelled, 'You're the best grandpa in the whole world!' The look on the grandfather's face was truly filled with love and joy."

The School Family Community Partnership (SFCP) committee at Elmwood Elementary School in Naperville, Illinois, designed the Dad's Breakfast to involve more fathers in school happenings. Local businesses donated paint and supplies for building projects that the dads, and other important men in students' lives, could assemble with the children after sharing breakfast. Past projects include birdhouses, toolboxes, and stepstools. Feedback suggested that fathers were missing out on school events because so many were held during the school day, so with this in mind, the event was scheduled during the weekend.

"We advertised with flyers for volunteers for the day of the event, and offered dads, uncles, grandpas and others the opportunity to spend a little quality time with their children on a Saturday morning," said Montrose, the SFCP co-chairperson. "They were done by noon, leaving plenty of time to enjoy the rest of their day. We split the morning into two sessions so we could accommodate everyone. One year, we were so crowded we had to open the band room and set up more work tables."

Coffee, juice, and breakfast specialties were offered at the onset to jumpstart the crew. Fathers were asked to bring their hammers and positive attitudes. Everyone was enthusiastic about the activity, including moms, who were instrumental in encouraging dads and kids to take part. As an additional incentive, raffles were held with fantastic prizes for families.

"It was great to see the different interactions with kids and their dads," Montrose told Education World. "Several dads asked their fathers to join them, making it a total men's morning out. What a wonderful way to spend your morning -- with your father and grandfather! Plus, we had several brothers, uncles, stepdads, and teachers step up when fathers were unable to attend. It was truly amazing how everyone came together to support this project. The entire staff of teachers, custodians, and principals helped out, whether it was in the kitchen, check-in lines, or the paint stations."

Montrose will never forget when her husband, who was manning the paint table, shook a can of paint to refill the stations. The lid came off, and he was covered in paint! Everyone in the gym roared with laughter. Unfortunately, that priceless moment from the event was not caught on film.

The Dad's Breakfast is entering is eighth year at Elmwood and is going strong. Montrose has graduated to the junior high level, but her family's birdhouses still hang on their trees. Each year, it is fun to hear the children guess about what the new project will be, she reports. Experience has taught Montrose to check with paint stores throughout the year for greater selection from their "oops" colors. The kids really enjoy bright colors, not the more common shades of beige and brown.

Over time, mothers got involved and helped the school save money by providing donated baked goodies for the breakfast. These were often delivered on the day before or hand-carried on the morning of the event by attending fathers and kids. Another lesson learned was to offer plastic bags or other containers that dads could use to safely carry home the projects that were created, without getting wet paint on people and cars.

"Have a sense of humor and let the fun just happen," adds Montrose. "It's really a team effort and a team event, and couldn't be done without the support of great parents, teachers, and local businesses that put the kids first!"


The ideas for articles in this Partners for Student Success series come from annual collections of Promising Partnership Practices by the National Network of Partnership Schools. Established by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, NNPS is dedicated to bringing together schools, districts, and states that are committed to developing and maintaining comprehensive programs of school-family-community partnerships.

"Based on more than a decade of research and the work of many educators, parents, students, and others, we know that it is possible for all elementary, middle, and high schools to develop and maintain strong programs of partnership," NNPS director Joyce L. Epstein told Education World.

NNPS provides a wide range of resources to help schools and school districts build strong partnerships. Click the links below to…

… learn more about how your school or district can join NNPS.

… find out about NNPS products and services.

… investigate research related to school, family, and community partnerships.

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
Copyright © 2011 Education World