Last week, I spent my morning with a group of mothers who meet each week with their digital learning coach. The goal of these meetings is to teach parents how to advocate for their children's needs. As I was sharing my five steps for advocating for children's needs, it hit me. For many parents, navigating a school system is like learning a new language. To advocate for their children's needs, they would first need to have someone decode the system. The task of decoding education for parents is not an easy one, but it is necessary.
In the Bible, the story of Jacob wrestling with an angel all night long reminds me of one action parents can take to advocate for their children. As dawn was breaking, the angel cried out saying, "Let me go, dawn is breaking." To that Jacob replied, "I won't let go until you bless me."
This story makes me think of parents who, for all intent and purposes, are at their wit's end. I've seen these parents at board meetings or sitting in the lobby at schools or in the district office. The looks on their faces match the frustration of bouncing around from office to office, making phone call after phone call, having meetings and conferences and still not being able to find a resolution. They've gone to a school to ask for assistance, information, support, guidance or just to be heard. They are so adamant they will sit in the office until they get what they'd come to do.
They might have run into admin and teachers who care but were putting out other fires. They might have been told to come back later to make an appointment. They may have been told there was nothing that could be done about their situation. But their instincts as a parent tells them to sit and wait until they get resolution and take no thought for who might be too busy or not available. I admire those parents and all parents who fiercely advocate for what is best and what is needed for their child even if that requires sitting outside someone's office for hours until they can be seen.
So to parents, this is not an invitation to cause a scene or be disruptive. But I wholeheartedly implore you to do whatever you need to do to ensure the needs of your children are met. In addition to the five steps I shared with the parents, not leaving until you get what you need is a way you can activate all five steps at once. Schools and school districts are not always welcoming to meeting the individual needs of all kids and parents. But that should not deter you from advocating for what is best for yours. So, be visible, be vocal, be inquisitive, be engaged, advocate and if you need to, sit there and don't let go until they bless you.