It is almost the start of the school year which often brings upon hope and excitement. For many parents, however, it is a time of uncertainty. They wonder if it is going to be another year where their child does not get what he/she needs. For most kids, the school system provides them the emotional, academic and behavioral support that they need. The kids are placed in the right classrooms with the right teachers and are taught at a level that is comfortable for them. Kids receive support from guidance and assistance from their teachers and other school staff. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all students.
Although teachers and administrators try to help the students, there are times when more support and innovative thinking is required. Many times it is the job of the parents to fight for what their child really needs. Whether it is a smaller classroom, individualized behavioral support or academic enrichment, your child deserves the best education your town can provide. In this post, I want to share with you some ways that YOU as a parent can advocate for your child so he/she can experience academic success!
5 Ways to Advocate for Your Child’s Education
The very first step in helping your child is to get informed. That means attend every back to school night and parent/teacher conference. Read every flyer and newsletter that is sent home and frequent the school website. Attend your town board meetings, advisory meetings and PTA meetings. You must know what your school offers and the process needed to follow to get help. Being informed keeps you up-to-date and knowledgeable so you can better advocate for your child.
Sometimes it is not enough to just attend meetings as a quiet observer. It is important to get involved as this gives you a voice. It allows you to share how you feel about the system and how to make it better. Your involvement can be as big or small as your time allows but being involved in some capacity can make all the difference. From volunteering for a class party or field day to joining the PTO to running for your local Board of Education, parental involvement is key in advocating for the needs of your child and the other children in the community.
Schedule a Meeting
If things are not going well, schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher. Before going to a principal or superintendent make sure you are in constant communication with your teacher first. Schedule meetings and keep daily logs in order to keep track of your child’s progress. Many times just meeting with your child’s teacher is enough to develop new ideas that can successfully help your child. (TIP: If your child has a history of struggling in school, I recommend scheduling a meeting with their teacher within the first 2 weeks of school. Together, you can develop a game plan to make sure the year is successful.)
If you feel that your teacher is unable to help, then schedule a meeting with the Principal. I know many parents that wrote letters and/or met with the school Principal which created a positive change for not only their child, but other children as well. Last resort should be a meeting with the Superintendent. Although this may result in a productive solution, I believe it is a step that should be taken only after you have contacted the teacher and Principal.
Refer Your Child for Help
Every school has a committee of staff members that work together to develop interventions for students. Each school may have a different name for this service but its goal is the same, to increase the academic success of a child. If you feel your child is struggling, you can refer them to this committee for additional help. Your child’s teacher can also refer them to the committee to help develop classroom strategies. This committee has had excellent results and is a great way to help your child. Please contact your child’s school to learn more about their intervention and referral process.
Seek Help from the Child Study Team
If you have met with your child’s teacher and sought help from the intervention team, then your next step would be reaching out to your school’s Child Study Team (CST). The CST is a team of educators that specialize in special education. Parents can write a letter to the CST requesting evaluations to determine if the child qualifies for special education and related services. This can include, but is not limited to, self-contained placement, resource room classes, speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral modification plans and physical therapy.
I hope you have found these tips helpful in starting your journey to advocate for your child’s education! Please share your tips or success stories in the comment section or below!
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