Although the school system is designed to provide the best education possible, things don't always go the way they are supposed to. Teachers can get forget something, paperwork can get lost, and children can have interpersonal issues with other children and adults, among any number of other things. Parents need to have the skills and knowledge to be advocates for their children to ensure these things don't negatively impact their child or their child's education.What is an advocate?Simply put, an advocate is anyone who acts on behalf of the rights of the child. This can be parents, teachers, or any person who works to protect the child's rights. For most children, their first and best advocates are their parents. Parents can best advocate for the child's educational and other rights with more conviction and knowledge than any other person because parents know their children better than anyone else.The role of the school is to provide an appropriate education for the children, but the school cannot really be an effective advocate for every child in attendance. The school is really involved with the children for a few hours each day, while parents are involved for life. This makes it extremely important that parents become active participants in each child's education.Tips for Advocating for Your Child
Participate in school activities such as, orientation, back-to-school night, open house, workshops, and social events.
Volunteer in the classroom. This is perhaps the most important thing a parent can do because it allows the parent to see the child, other children and teacher and how they interact first hand. It also builds positive rapport with the teacher.
Be involved with the parent committee or counsel (such as PTA). Being involved in the decision making gives parents another avenue to learn what is going on and to be heard.
Know your rights and the rights of your child. These are usually enumerated in school and district publications.
Know the school policies and read the parent handbook. Again, this is to ensure parents know what is going on and how it affects their children.
Communicate with the teacher. Keeping positive, open communication with the teacher can ensure that the teacher will listen and respond if there is a problem. This goes hand-in-hand with volunteering in the classroom, if parents are there, teachers are more likely to listen and act when there are problems.
Ask questions and stay informed.
Participate in parent-teacher conferences.
Keep a positive, open mind about your own child's development and educational progress. Many parents have difficulties because they don't really know how their child is progressing which can cause conflict with teachers and other staff.
Consider the advice of professionals when there are questions about the child's development or educational progress. Teachers and other school professionals are highly-trained and know what they are talking about.
Get the facts. Educate yourself on how the school system works and your child's rights within the system.
Doing these simple things can ensure your child gets the education you want and that you child deserves. Parents who are involved and ask questions are more likely to have their child's issues addressed. With just a little involvement, parents can make a world of difference for their children.