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Advocating for Your Child at School

Children do best in school when parents and teachers work together.  Sometimes your child will need you to advocate for them with the school.

That's one more reason to meet your child’s teachers, counselors, principals and other school staff as soon as possible in the school year.  Find out how and when they prefer to be contacted so you'll know how if you need to reach them.

When your child is struggling, first talk with your child and ask for their understanding of what's wrong.   Ask when the problem started, who is involved, what they've done to try to solve it, and what the teacher or school has tried to help resolve the problem. 

The more you know from your child's point of view, the easier it will be for you to talk with the teacher or other school staff.  If your child insists that nothing is wrong and you're still concerned, trust your judgment and contact the school to discuss issues you've noticed. 

In most cases, you'll want to talk first with your child's teacher - without your child present.  Be specific about your concerns, using examples where possible, and ask for guidance. 

If you know what you'd like to see happen, ask directly.  View school staff as allies in solving problems. 

See if you can resolve the problem together.  Then, if needed, you can involve other school staff like learning specialists, counselors, deans or principals. 

Take notes so you'll remember what each party agreed to do.  Try to avoid blaming.  It's best when parents and schools can work together on what's best for your child. 

If your child is having trouble learning or with his/her behavior, ask about testing your child to detect specific needs that require special teaching techniques. Ask about conflict management or other skill building help that might be available.   

If you are not satisfied, persist.  Your child deserves your support.  And, you are most likely the best one of give support.

For more tips, read Be Your Child's Advocate from Scholastic. 

If you feel you would benefit from coaching and support to help you advocate for your child, check out the Minnesota Association for Childrens Mental Health.  In addition to coaching, they can connect you to local resources, including parent support groups.