Do your twins have access to the support that they will need as individuals, not just twins, to be successful in school? Advocating for your children in school includes helping your children to be heard and having a strong circle of support surrounding them in whatever school or educational setting that they are in. That circle of support includes the child him/herself, parent/caregiver, close friends and family, school teachers and administrators, extra-curricular leaders, and appropriate medical professionals.
If your child is struggling in school they may need support to ensure that they are given the opportunities they need to excel within the classroom environment, including more time for test taking, or one on one instruction for certain sections of academic material. You should also take into consideration non-academic hindrances which may be negatively affecting your children, such as bullying and peer pressure.
I have had to learn how to advocate for my children as it relates to bullying, ADHD, their very different learning styles, social differences, and a number of other areas in their school. Advocating for your children requires an “all hands on deck” approach to ensure that they receive what they need so that they know that they are being heard, and further learn to accept themselves as being perfectly made just as they are. We often put the focus on others accepting our children, but it is more important for your child to learn how to accept who they are. They need to understand both their strengths as well as areas where they may struggle so that they can further learn how to excel as an adult and not develop a lack of confidence or uncertainty of their own capabilities.
As a parent or caregiver, this is where our involvement in this process is so important. To encourage this type of success for your children, you will need to be even more informed about your child and his or her support (or lack thereof), as the others involved in their circle of support. Your children may not always know how to find the best support they need to succeed in school. You may not know either. But it is up to you to lead the charge and be an advocate for your child. You must do your homework and ask the right questions. Instead of making decisions out of fear, in which your children end up paying a dear price for, focus on gathering wisdom and knowledge to make the best support decisions for your children.
Here are five steps which have gained me the most success in building the strongest circle of support that I can provide for each of my children:
5 Steps To Advocate For Your Child In School
1. Focus on your goals and be sure to keep your emotions separate.
What is your goal for your child? Is it to help improve your son’s perspective of school so that he no longer begs to stay home? Or, perhaps you want to stop your daughter from crying when she gets off the school bus each day? Maybe you are searching to understand if there is another reason you don’t already know why your daughter is not reading as yet at her age? Regardless of your goals, write it down. This will help you focus on the facts, and not just your emotions, as you gain wisdom and knowledge through the process.
2. Be quick to listen.
This requires taking the time to ask questions and gain helpful wisdom and knowledge to help support your child and reach your goals. Be sure to discuss your goals with each member you include in your child’s circle of support. Talk to your child and listen to them. Allow them to answer for themselves (they understand more than you think!) Talk to their teacher(s) and listen to them. With the amount of time that they are spending with your child each week, they will help you get a broader understanding of what may be the best solutions.
Don’t forget to include your child’s doctor in conversation. Even if your child is blessed to only visit the doctor once a year, your child’s doctor should still be keenly aware of your child’s development and be truly interested in your child’s growth and not simply focused on whether they are following a scientific curve. Engage your child’s doctor in discussions about their development, questions or concerns that you may have, as well as what their opinion may be.
3. Be slow to speak.
Everyone, including you, is viewing your child from their own lens. Don’t be quick to accuse or judge the opinions of those in your child’s support circle. Your role in this process is to take each view and put them together to gain the best picture of the whole. A different lens does not mean they are wrong. It may mean that there is more than one way to reach a common goal, or that you may need to incorporate the view of others in the support circle to get a better picture of the situation.
Be sure to include practical observations of your child at home, at church, and in other similar environments where your child spends a lot of time or interacts with the same people repeatedly. These observations can help you see patterns that perhaps you may not otherwise notice.
Also, be wary of attempting to read information on the internet and using it to decipher what exactly pertains to your individual child. This takes a lot more time and effort and only leads to more confusion. Get formal testing with a specialist, if necessary. When dealing with the individual results of your child’s testing you will be armed with information specific to your child and can further make a more individualized decision designed specifically for your child.
4. Be slow to become angry.
You want your child to get the supports that they need because for their own success, not just what will help you to feel better. Keep your focus on your child and not on you. Go back and read over what you wrote down as your goal at the start of this process and update with any information that you have gleaned that will help you meet your goal. Never attempt to make a decision solely based on your feelings, whether positive or negative. Feelings are not reliable and such decisions are often regretted.
5. Don’t give up.
Nothing worth it comes easy. It will take time to figure out the best supports for your child, and methods may even need to change over time as your child develops. Even if an unpleasing approach becomes necessary, remember the focus is on what is best for your child and you are doing everything that you can to make this happen.
Andrea Ormsby serves twin moms by helping them to get clear on what their next steps should be so that they can mother from a place of strength and courage rather than fear. You can sign up for a strategy session with her via bit.ly/getmomcourage2. Find out more about her and her services via www.andreaormsby.com