Advocate for Your Student
You Are Your Student’s No. 1 Advocate
The role you play as a parent or guardian is an important one. It can be intimidating, frightening or confusing to deal with conflict at school. You may feel frustrated or angry. But remember, your student needs you. Showing your care and support is vital. It can also help you get the outcome you hope for.
Advice From a Student Advocacy Parent: You Are Not Powerless
“From my experience, when schools see you’re active and involved, they will be more pro-student,” says one Student Advocacy Center parent. “There will be situations that you, as a parent, may not be proud of—or may even be embarrassed by—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.”
“Parents need to understand that their inputs have a great impact on their child’s success in school,” she continues. “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,” she adds.
What to Know
Set the Right Tone
- Consider and connect with your student’s emotions first. Your student might be feeling shame, disappointment or uncertainty.
- Check in with your emotions. You might start to feel shame or get defensive. You might have a memory from when you were student. This is a normal and common response. Take a breath.
- Know that you can excuse yourself and take a break if you feel yourself getting too emotional.
- Listen to your student. Ask open-ended questions to understand what happened and what the student wants to happen next.
- Treat school staff with respect, even if you don’t feel respected.
- Take a calm, trusted friend with you to meetings for support.
Keep Organized Records
- Get everything in writing. Maintaining appropriate documents is crucial to advocacy. Remember: If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen.
- Take notes during every meeting, call or email. Make sure that you include the date and time.
- Be creative in the ways that you document things. For example, you can use photos or audio recordings.
- Keep all letters to and from the school and school records.
- Keep an attendance log of every time your child is sent home from school.
- After meetings, follow up in writing, outlining what happened at the meeting and the next steps.
“The Student Advocacy Center doesn’t give up on kids.”
Rich Sheridan, Community Supporter