Why you must be your child’s advocate at school

The parent/teacher relationship can be fickle or fabulous or a combination of both.

But just recently I’ve had to step in and be my child’s advocate after they were treated unfairly. I would have preferred not to but sometimes we have no choice.

I get it, teachers have a huge and incredible role and I respect, admire and appreciate all their hard work.

However, sometimes they just get it wrong. Simple.

Yes they are only human and it’s to be expected. But that doesn’t mean we parents need to just take it as gospel, especially if there has been a similar instance before.

I won’t get into the details but suffice to say that choosing to make an example of a very hard-working and diligent student is probably not going to have the best outcome.

This is particularly if this child was held to higher or different standards than other child. This child did not get a warning as others in the class did.

In fact in this instance said child was unwell and unable to do as asked. There is no grey area, the facts are black and white. In this instance.

Why you must be your child’s advocate at school

Just in case I was blowing the whole issue out of proportion I called a friend who has kids in high school and primary school, I knew she’d give it to me straight and had experience in teachers.

She told me this:

  • We have to be our children’s advocate because they aren’t allowed to stand up for themselves at school.
  • In her opinion many teachers overlook high achievers because they feel they don’t need the encouragement.
  • That I was in my rights to be upset and that it was a clear case of her child being treated a little unfairly.
  • I should calm the chocolate farm before I spoke with said child’s teacher.
  • You have some teachers that favour some kids over others and are unable to hide this enough in the classroom.

With only a tiny bit of wind in my sails and lots of smiles and no accusatory tones, I spoke to my child’s teacher and explained how I felt the situation was not fair.

I presented facts, not emotions and the teacher agreed in this instance it probably wasn’t the right course of action and realised that they had made a judgement error.

My reasons for doing this weren’t to stick it to the teacher, it was to show my child that I had their back no matter what.

This child’s good behaviour should be rewarded and I did not want my precious and eager learner to be discouraged or disheartened when in fact in this instance no wrongdoing occurred.

It’s horrifically difficult trying to keep up with all that’s going on with your kids, especially at school. I’m overwhelmed at times in regards to how they are progressing and it’s something that worries me once I have three kids at school next year.

I’m not going to meddle for not reason, but I will be the person who sticks up for my child when I know they deserve it.

I don’t have blinkers on in regards to my kids, I know they’re not perfect, I know their flaws and I adjust my actions accordingly.

Teachers are incredible people. I have teachers who are friends, I parent help with teachers and they often have the most ridiculous expectations placed upon them by principals.

However, they are not above criticism, just as you and I are not above reproach if we get it wrong or don’t meet the standards expected of us in our respective professions.

Just be polite and respectful. Always.

Most importantly, be the one person you child can count on when they have been treated unfairly.

Have you ever had to have a chat with your child’s teacher?

Are you a teacher and someone who doesn’t mind if a parent stands up for their child?

Comments

  1. Good on you Em, we absolutely have to stick up for our kids! And yes, for the most part teachers are awesome, but they’re also human and can stuff things up like the rest of us. x

  2. I agree with you Emily. I always supported my kids if I truly believed they were being treated unfairly. Teachers are only human and make mistakes. The only thing I will say is that when kids grow up they will often be treated unfairly (take a look at my last post to see an example of this) and teaching your kids retrospection and resilience is equally as important as showing them you’re always there for them. If you can teach them conflict resolution and quiet conviction when they know they’re in the right I think it will be a very valuable thing. I’m sure you do this already. I’ll get off me soapbox now 🙂

    • Yes you are so right. And my child did see the injustice in the situation but this is the second incidence of them being harshly dealt with and some of their confidence and love for school is starting to erode. Once they are older and at high school I’m sure I won’t need to do this but in these early years when I want my kids to love learning and school I feel sometimes it must be said. Love this comment, thanks lovely (off to read your post)

  3. As a mother, grandmother and an old teacher, I applaud you Em. Kids all need an advocate especially in the system which definitely does NOT encourage them to have their say to teachers.

  4. Your child will also learn by your example – dealing with confronting situations can be done in a respectful and polite manner and reach an outcome all involved can accept. You don’t have to go in with all guns blazing or have a home kitchen table hate session like I have heard so many others do – not helpful – not setting a good example – just not healthy! Good for you Em. The teacher would know that you respect the health of all relationships in this situation by the way you approached it. That’s what I reckon anyway (speaking from my own experiences). Xx

  5. Great work Em. I found the more involved I was with the school, eg, help out the P&C, parent help in classrooms etc. the more I was able to support my kids and get their voices heard at the school. good on you for backing up your kids.

  6. Good on you Em. As parents, we can sometimes be unsure whether or not to step in, but I think our gut always tells us. I just read on your FB page that the outcome was a good one. Fantastic!

  7. I lost just about all respect for our son’s teacher last year when she said ‘He will probably remain in the bottom of the class but we just want to make sure he keeps progressing at his own pace.” Foregone conclusion. So, in other words, she is happy for our son to remain always ‘well below expectations’, without seeing any need to intervene – this is in Prep! Surely I could have expected something more like ‘he will probably continue to struggle, but this is what we can do to help him progress closer to his peers.’ I’m glad you respectfully achieved a fair outcome for your child Em. I’m glad we have a new teacher (and our son is repeating), with the opportunity for us not to be so rigid/resigned to his future outcomes.

  8. You are awesome, Em! Good on you for sticking up for your little one and for handling the situation with such grace. Ps. I hope the teacher feels really really bad about it 🙂

  9. I have a middle of the road kid, and it does seem like they are often glossed over as well. But when time comes that I need to bat for him — I definitely will. However, I normally hear about things well after they have been resolved and he seems to be quite the little diplomat all on his own.

  10. I love this Em, and love what you did for your child. We are regularly involved in our kids school lives, as much to ensure we have their back and the teachers occasionally need support. I have had great success when stepping up for my child, with a great outcome for both the child and myself.

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