Is your child struggling to succeed in the classroom?
For over 23 years, I have worked as both a school psychologist and special education administrator. Therefore, I understand “the other side of the table,” and I know the types of questions parents should be asking (and often do not ask) regarding their child’s learning challenges and services for their children.
Assessing and understanding your child’s specific strengths, weaknesses, social, emotional, academic, and cognitive functioning is essential for successfully advocating for your child’s academic needs and protecting your child’s educational rights. A formal assessment of your child’s academic record, medical records, and simply asking the right questions is the first step in effective advocacy for your child. For more information about these types of services, simply contact us.
When your child is not performing well at school, you should feel comfortable and confident to be your child’s voice. No one knows your child as well as you do. You understand their personality, strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Effective advocacy will ensure that your child has the love and support to have academic success.
What Does it Mean to Advocate for Your Child?
“Advocate” simply means that someone is “speaking up” on behalf of another. Parents typically advocate or “speak up” for their child when they have concerns about their child’s academic success, behavioral matters, and social situations. For example, if a child is being bullied at school. A child’s parent or guardian will likely want to discuss the matter with the school’s administration. Advocating for your child may also be the process of protecting your child’s interests and rights.
Tips to Help You Advocate for Your Child’s Best Interests
First, you should feel comfortable with the process of “speaking up” for your child. Have a mindset of, “The squeaky wheel is the one that gets the oil.” If you don’t believe you have a voice or the right to speak up for your child, nothing will improve. Be firm but respectful when advocating for your child’s best interest. You want to persuade corrective action from school staff, teachers, and school administrators. Losing your temper means losing your credibility when advocating for your child’s needs.
Second, document all of your concerns. At times, issues involving our children can be very emotional. When our emotions “run high,” we often cannot have the clarity to identify all of the issues at hand. Keep a diary of your thoughts and concerns.
Third, learn your rights as a parent. Understand the programs and services that are relevant and available to your child’s needs.
Fourth, make helpful, influential connections. If your child needs special services, it would be beneficial for you to meet with any relevant and influential people involved in those services. For example, a child may have a vision disability making it difficult for the child to read the school’s website and/or perform online course materials due to the school’s website colors, design, or font sizes. It might be valuable to familiarize yourself with the Americans With Disability Act (ADA) governing website requirements for the visually impaired and speak with local representatives at your closest ADA center. These representatives will be able to provide information, guidance, and they might assist you in several meaningful ways.
Fifth, begin speaking with the person or people you trust at your child’s school. Hopefully, you have a good relationship with your child’s teachers. Whomever you have a good relationship with at the school is likely the best person to start advocating on your child’s behalf. Start by asking good, positive, and relevant questions. For example, you might want to ask about processes, policies, points of contact, services available, or anything else relevant to your child’s issues.
Sixth, keep calm, cool and collected. The best approach to advocacy is building a team of people who want to help. When you keep your concerns simple to understand, you have solutions to offer, and you have a good attitude, people will be more inclined to take action and join your cause.
Seventh, keep everything in writing. Any names, times, dates, questions, answers, requests, responses, and pertinent notes should be documented.
Eighth, educate yourself. Does your child have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or a Section 504 Plan? If so, and there are issues to resolve, contact us to discuss your child’s situation.
Advocating for your child is an on-going process. However, the process can be effective and have lasting positive effects on your child’s future. For additional information about Education Concierge’s services, simply contact us today.