Advocacy at school.
For many in the special needs community, that phrase conjures images of parents breathing fire while toting armloads of files and folders into an IEP meeting or annual review.
Not a pretty picture.
And, if the truth be told from my vantage point as a former teacher, it’s not the most effective way to advocate at school either. During my 25 years in public education, the parents who did the most good for their children were those who took President Theodore Roosevelt’s advice to heart.
They spoke softly and carried a big stick.
For special education parent advocates who are Christians, the big stick part involves research and understanding of special education law. (WrightsLaw is a great place to begin that research.) For those same believing advocates, the speaking softly component involves cultivating fruitful relationships with school personnel. Here are ten ways I saw parents advocate at school positively and fruitfully on behalf of their kids.
- Pray for those involved in your child’s life at school. Your prayers make a huge difference in the lives if educators. For ideas about how and why to pray, check out the post Mid-September Is a Good Time to Pray.
- Volunteer. Sign up to be a room parent or to supervise class parties for younger kids or as a chaperone for older ones. Or volunteer to use a special skill to make life easier for your child’s teachers. The best volunteer I ever had was a mom who was a court reporter. She came once a week to type and format my students’ stories into the computer. The kids were thrilled to have professional looking writing samples, and I was thrilled to have time to devote to other teaching tasks.
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