Ensure the Best Education: Advocate for Your Child
by Krischa Esquivel
We watch the news, read the headlines and see the statistics over and over. Public schools are failing our children, drop out rates are sky high and test scores may, or may not be valid with the accusations of cheating. Is this what a free and public education has become? What is a parent to do if they cannot afford a private school or are not lucky enough to find a good charter school?
Many parents believe it is the school and teacher’s job to educate children. This is partly true. The responsibility falls on the school, the teacher AND the parent. This should be a partnership and parents MUST be proactive. Yes, schools may be failing, but parents can pick up the slack. Or better yet, parents can be at the forefront ensuring their child never fails. There are a number of steps parents and caregivers can take to ensure their child does not fail, fall between the cracks or become a statistic associated with so many children in the public school system.
Tips to Advocate:
- Be involved: Parent meetings, school board meetings, parent conferences. Any opportunity you have to be involved in the decision making process and stay informed about what is taking place in the school should be utilized.
- Be known: Make sure the Principal, your child’s teacher(s), coaches and anyone else involved in their education knows you. Developing a relationship will make conversations easier when concerns arise. It’s ok to be “that parent.” Remember, closed mouths don’t get fed and only squeaky wheels get oiled.
- Know the Standards: Every grade level has a set of standards children need to meet to be proficient in a particular grade level and to move on to the next grade level. Become familiar with the standards. Request a copy of the standards and a timeline as to when they will be taught (yes, you are entitled to have a copy). Do not be afraid to check in with the teacher about your child’s progress regarding the standards. If you see your child is doing well, feel free to expand on topics and challenge your child.
- Check in: Check in with your child daily and with your child’s teacher as needed. Checking in with your child shows an interest in their education. It builds up their accountability for what needs to be completed and it gives you an opportunity to have informed discussions with your child’s teacher.
- Be understanding: Remember, most classrooms have 30 children. Teachers take on a great task and responsibility. Be understanding and empathetic of the task. Offer support (volunteering or assisting with an activity) to take some of the burden off of the teacher. This will also give you insight into how the teacher runs the classroom, their teaching style, and allows you to see how your child responds to the teacher.
- Voice Concerns: This is very important. Yes, teachers are knowledgeable. But nobody knows your child the way you do. If you have a concern about your child’s progress you must address it and be proactive in coming up with a plan.
Educating children is a full time job. Children are in school 6 hours a day, but learning is continuous. Ensuring your child is successful is a team effort. Parents are their child’s first and most important teacher. Take the time to be involved, stay connected and be informed. What is taking place in many public schools is unacceptable. In the midst of budget cuts, increased class sizes and increased testing, parents still possess the power to ensure their child is successful.
Photo Credit: Flickr / soholife.english ; supervisionescolar512.blogspot.com
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