There are many reasons parents can feel pressured to remain silent, or be hesitant to add input or seek additional information when it comes to their child's education. The teacher is a professional educator, and comes to the table with stacks of results and data. This can be overwhelming and some parents (especially those who are stressed, unsure, or confrontation-adverse) might feel it best to keep quiet.
In these situations, it is important to remember the schools and teachers are part of a team created to help your student succeed. Don't forget that you as the parent and your child are vital members of that team. In the spirit of teamwork, things work best when all members participate fully and engage completely.
The Parent's Role
You know your child best. If there is something you can do to help your child learn and thrive in the classroom environment, let the teachers know! Everyone will benefit when your child feels comfortable and safe. You are the strongest advocate your child has. Make sure you speak up when you have questions or information that will help your child succeed.
Advocating for your child does not have to be a negative or confrontational experience. You can definitely seek ways to communicate with teachers and school administrators in a way that is positive, constructive and helpful. If the situation becomes too tense, or you are too emotionally engaged to respond in a positive way, look for different ways to communicate. Communicating in writing allows you to fully control and edit your words--and letting the written message sit for a while before you send it allows you to reexamine if you still feel the same way, and edit once your anger or frustration has had a chance to subside.
If you feel you are not able to access equal footing as a member of your child's support team, you can always find resources to help you. TUFF offers workshops and webinars on how to better advocate for your student. This is a helpful resource to take control of your situation, while also building necessary skills. If your situation is legally complicated, you can also seek the help of a state mediator for free, or pay for an advocate or attorney to help you navigate the legal waters.
Never underestimate your role as a parent! Make sure you seek clarification of your rights and those of your student. And if things get too complicated or intense, don't be afraid to seek help. Visit uniquefriends.org to find out more about how we can help.