Need to know: A discussion on the importance of advocating for children.
Advocacy in early childhood education
Last week, I was talking to another parent who was upset at the prospect of their child being suspended. This child is only 6. I can’t understand under what circumstances a 6 year old would learn more from being suspended than from being kept in school with the right accommodations.
Most neurotypical students can respond reasonably well to the current punitive systems in place, which is why there is no impetus to change. Unfortunately, most of the children who are regularly in “trouble” are those who have diagnosed or undiagnosed conditions. These are the students who can be automatically labelled as the “naughty” and “difficult” kids.
Dr Ross Greene’s work, one of the leading experts in managing behaviour, is centred around “kids do well if they can”, and when they don’t there is something getting in their way. His collaborative problem solving strategies are not limited to families and can easily be implemented in schools. I highly recommend you have a look at lives in the balance and if appropriate share with your principal.
There are many schools making great strides to change how they approach behaviour management and how they support students with additional needs. On occasion, for various reasons, you might believe that not enough is being done for your child. If you are a parent struggling with the lack of support offered by your school, it’s worth reading up on the Education Department guidelines. Schools and teachers are legally required to make reasonable adjustments for your child – see The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 outline the obligations of education and training providers to make reasonable adjustments
For those of you who need legal advice, have a look at the toolkit available at Australian Centre for Disability Law (ACDL). This project has been funded by the Department of Social Services (DSS) “to make it easier for students with a disability to stay in mainstream education and reach their full potential.”
The most productive and effective relationship you can cultivate to support your child, is the one with their teacher. Remember that every teacher wants the best for your child – if you don’t believe this, have a read of the interviews in this blog. Approach problem solving with your child’s teacher collaboratively, to define reasonable goals and adjustments that you can review regularly – this is the basis for measuring your child’s success. Download the accommodations and strengths at school sheets.
Push to have your child assessed by the school counsellor/psychologist. Involve the learning and support staff in follow up meetings. This is not only a cost effective strategy, but it is one that is more likely to be on record and therefore supported by the school.
Sometimes you have to be the squeaky wheel and sometimes you have to push and advocate for your children. Your child is so lucky because they have you as their voice.