As a teacher, a parent and a grade level leader at Northbridge International School Cambodia, I am a great proponent for teaching children to advocate for themselves. Self advocacy helps foster independence and success. Self advocacy means students speak up for themselves, ask for what they need, and ask for help. Many of our students have expressed low confidence in communicating with teachers and advocating for what they need.
There have been many studies that show a positive relationship between parental involvement and academic achievement (Jeynes 2007, Coleman & McNeese 2009, Wilder 2014).
However it is in their adolescent years that children need to start assuming more responsibility for their own learning. Parents' roles begin to transition from managers to coaches.
It is hard sometimes to let go of control and let your child make mistakes. Parents need to let children learn to advocate for themselves without removing the whole parental safety net.
Teachers welcome parents' involvement in advocating for their child's education but are even more excited when parents help their children advocate for themselves.
Ways that parents can help students advocate for themselves:
Let children solve their own problems. Try not to intervene everytime your child needs help at school but offer them support and suggestions for ways they can take action themself. Provide ideas.
It takes courage to ask for help so praise children when they take this first step.
Help children identify and clarify the problem.
Suggest solutions but have them make the final decision and take action.
Self advocacy take practice. Let them try different strategies and see which one works for them.
Some example to helping student self advocate:
If a child is going to be missing class(es), parents should contact the school office to let them know but students should contact their teachers, find out what information they will be missing and what they can do to stay caught up.
Good student-teacher communication is not a substitution for parent involvement. Be sure to ask your child questions about their progress and be supportive when they ask you for help.
There might be times when parent teacher communication is still the best way forward so we look forward to hearing from you and your child.
For more information in advocacy check out this website: understood.org/articles/en/parent-advocacy-steps
Wilder, S. (2014). Effects of parental involvement on academic achievement: a meta-synthesis. Educational Review, 66(3), 377-397. Coleman, B., & McNeese, M. N. (2009). From home to school: The relationship among parental involvement, student motivation, and academic achievement. International Journal of Learning, 16(7).