Being An Advocate for Your Child
Setting the Right Tone
1. Listen to your child, your instincts and the school staff with an open mind.
2. Assume positive intent.
3. Treat school staff with respect, even when you don’t feel respected. This might mean you need to take a calm, trusted friend with you to meetings or that you need to excuse yourself at times.
Be Well Versed in the Law
1. Familiarize yourself with your child’s rights. This web site is a resource and has many links to other resources.
1. Maintaining appropriate documents is crucial to advocacy. If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen.
2. Keep meticulous records, including notes from meetings, letters to and from the school, and school records. Keep a log of EVERY time your child is sent home from school.
3. Keep a time log of phone calls and all forms of correspondence to decision makers.
4. After meetings, write the school a letter or email of understanding of what occurred and what the agreed next steps are.
5. Do not rely on memory and writing alone. Be creative in using photos, audio tapes, and other communication methods.
Advice from a mother whose son faced expulsion “The first piece of advice I would offer parents when advocating for their child in school would be remember you’re your child’s number one advocate. Parents need to understand their inputs have a great impact on their child’s success in school. I have been in situations where my involvement as a parent has changed the outcome that was not in my child’s favor. Never feel like you’re powerless against the school. They can seem intimidating but you as the parent have a lot of weight on decisions that can be made regarding your child’s schooling. Reach out to community support services, read the parent hand book and understand your rights. Also communicate with teachers email, call and keep a paper trail, you can go back to when there is an issue or situation you have previously discussed. From my experience when schools see you’re active and involved they will be more pro student. There will be situations you as a parent may not be proud of or may even be embarrassed, but you have to support your child to get them through the process. Lastly remember your child depends on your support whether good or bad, supporting them should be your number one priority as a parent.”