Thoughtful Parenting: Advocating for your child at school
For the Steamboat Pilot & Today
Taking on the role of an advocate for your child can be a daunting task. This job includes asking questions, bringing up concerns, and seeking help.
As a parent, you are a strong voice for your child. You know your children better than anyone, including their strengths, challenges, interests, and needs. Your input ensures that they are given the appropriate support to meet their potential and thrive.
Regulating strong emotions
Speaking up for your child can evoke strong feelings. Talking about your worries and concerns can be intimidating, especially with people whom you do not know well.
It is important to use your emotions to provide energy and power. Take time to talk with your partner, a friend, or a counselor to share your emotions before approaching school staff with your concerns.
You will have the best outcome when you can express your concerns while being open to hearing the perspective of the school staff. Most teachers and school staff care deeply and have your child’s best interest in mind.
It is best to come with all your questions and concerns in writing to guarantee they are all addressed. When compiling this, determine the overarching goal of the meeting, which is often to confirm that your child is being supported and is successful.
This is another time that it is often helpful to enlist the support of someone you trust to determine the most important concerns that you want to share. For every concern that you present, it is helpful if you have a potential solution in mind and are willing to be flexible.
There are also places to research online before attending the meeting, such as understood.org or http://www.cde.state.co.us/families.
Ask and listen
This will likely be an ongoing process. With continued communication, change can happen. Be sure to keep asking questions, but also thoughtfully listen to responses before reacting. Leave the meeting with action steps and follow-up dates to make certain everyone is held accountable.
In short, reach out early and often, have a well-articulated list of talking points, keep your cool, and assume positive intentions from the school staff. Your voice matters. Our community has many resources to support families. Don’t hesitate to seek support.
Alyssa Laliberte is the program director at Steamboat Reading. They group is part of the Routt County Youth Services Coalition. Visit http://www.steamboatreading.org.
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