Our children’s school lives seem to happen in a universe that is very separate from us. The social organization of having so many children together with relatively few adults is qualitatively different from any other child-adult environment I can think of. When I was first married, my husband used to say that it was only a thin line of social convention that kept the children from revolting against us and leaving the teachers tied up in the middle of the classrooms.
School learning happens in a way that is different from home learning. There is less personalized attention and more opportunity to bat around ideas with other students. The teacher may or may not share your philosophy around the best teaching practices, homework guidelines, or behavioural expectations, and your child has to adjust to many adults every year setting different boundaries and espousing different values.
Additionally, many peer interactions happen outside of the field of vision of the school adults. The bathroom, staircase, lockers, and playground are often places where children operate mostly on their own. They might be feeling very much alone in managing conflicts (or even bullying situations), especially as they get older.
If your child is having trouble at school—academically, behaviourally, or socially—the best thing you can do for them is be their advocate.
Over the next 5 blog posts, I’m going to be talking a bit about how to be an effective advocate for your child, but the truth is, just coming to the table to try to talk to the school does some very important things:
- It tells your child you’re on their side.
- It models for them how to solve problems or disagreements in a respectful but firm way.
- It communicates with the school that you are interested in being their partner for the benefit of your child.
Effective advocacy is less of a battle and more of a dance. Check back with us as I begin to teach you some of the basic steps.