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Back to school: 4 ways to advocate for your child

Last month, students and teachers returned to school across the Coast, and parents resumed their supporting roles in their children’s academic endeavors. At the beginning of the school year, everyone typically strives to put their best foot forward, creating a honeymoon period among teachers, students and parents. However, as classwork, homework and tests become more challenging, conflicts may arise in the classroom. While parent-teacher conversations to resolve these conflicts may seem nerve-racking and difficult, here are some ways to help them go more smoothly.

1. ASK QUESTIONS AND REMAIN CURIOUS.

As a parent, it can be difficult to be on the outside of situations happening inside your child’s classroom. We want to know all the details of every situation, but unfortunately, we do not have that kind of access. What we can do is ask questions of our child and our child’s teacher. Often, asking casual questions and genuinely listening is the most effective way to get the information you want and need. When asking teachers questions, it often helps to provide them with the information you have and ask for the information that will connect the dots and help you see the full picture. Above all, remain curious and avoid jumping to conclusions.

2. WORK WITH YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER.

Since parents and teachers both want the same thing, success for their student, a parent/teacher combination working together to provide support, guidance and accountability makes a dynamic and powerful impact on a student’s achievement in the classroom. To establish this connection, keep the lines of communication open. Let your child’s teacher know you are present and interested, and listen to the teacher’s feedback about your child.

3. BE REALISTIC AND OPEN.

As much as we would like to believe that our children will never make mistakes, they will. They’re human, just like us, which means at some point, they will mess up. The true test of character is how they rebound from those mistakes, and parents have the privilege of helping them navigate those waters by encouraging them to take responsibility for their mistakes and correcting them in the future.

4. ENCOURAGE SELF-ADVOCACY.

The best gift we can give our children is the courage to speak up for themselves. As tempting as it is to swoop in and fight all their battles, children are quite capable of managing their own problems. And in many instances, especially with older children, they can manage minor conflicts more effectively than parents, whose involvement may needlessly escalate a situation. Students may fear speaking up because they’re afraid they may be wrong for doing so. Encourage your child to speak up using the appropriate channels, and offer your support from the sidelines. Ultimately, advocating for our children brings its share of challenges, but doing so effectively will pave the way for our children to launch into successful futures inside and outside of the classroom.

 

Written by Kelsie Dove

Kelsie Dove is an English teacher at Gulfport High School and a founding
contributor for Gulf Coast Mom. She can be reached at kdove711@gmail.com.

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