It is funny, before I had kids and working in the education field I never understood parents. One minute they could be sweet as pie, the next the claws were out. I never understood it because I was doing EVERYTHING I could possibly do to support their child, but it seemed like it was never enough.
Then I stepped into the parent role and it all made sense.
These little beings depend on us right from the start. Our role is simple, support them as they grow into fine adults. But what happens when your voice is not always heard by their school? It can be frustrating, trust me, I have been there.
5 Tips to Be Your Child’s Best Advocate
Go in with an open mind
I remember sitting in my first meeting. They were describing my son and I broke down in tears. This was not at all what I wanted to hear, I mean I thought everything was ok. I questioned myself and my skills as a parent. It wasn’t until a friend said to me listen with an open mind, know that what they see at school might not be what you see at home.
Document, Document, Document
I didn’t do this at the beginning. Each meeting, letter, form etc I just read and tossed in the bin. I mean I would remember it all right? WRONG! When I kept documentation I was quick to refer to dates or questions that were discussed. I keep a accordion file folder that is easy to transport to the various meetings.
Find a Support Group
I was scared to do this. I never understood why I needed extra support, I mean I worked in the school system, I understood this stuff. But what I did not understand that it was different when you were the parent and not the staff. Finding my tribe has open up so many opportunities for our family. Surrounding yourself with people who get it, have been there or are going through it makes it easier.
Know your voice matters
No one knows your child like you. Sometimes we think that educators know it all, they have the tools, skills and abilities to best support your child, sadly that is not always the case. If you see something that it is not working, speak up. There may be a way you do things that work for your child so don’t be afraid to let them know. I personally love when parents let me know what works because we are a team, with one goal in mind, to help that child be the best they can be.
You don’t understand something? No problem ask them to explain. Sometimes meetings are filled with crazy words, short forms etc parents are left feeling overwhelmed, I know my husband was. Stopping and asking what something means, for further clarification or even an example is ok. If you don’t ask everyone else thinks you understand.
Take care of you FIRST
Yup, that’s right I am giving you permission to be selfish. I spent years putting everyone first before myself. The outcome? I was a hot mess. Taking steps to take care of myself meant I was pleasant, able to listen to the facts and more enjoyable to be around.
Your child’s voice may not be recognizable to everyone around them. But I promise you that if you speak up and advocate for them it will be heard. I always tell my friends, if you don’t advocate for them who will? My oldest has seen me advocate on many occasions and is now starting to do it himself. Set the example, be the example, let their voice be heard!