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5 Tips for Being Your Child's Best Education Advocate

5 Tips for Being Your Child's Best Education Advocate!

In 2016, National Center for Educational Statistics reported "the percentage of children under the age of 18 in families living in poverty was higher for Black children than Hispanic children (31 and 26 percent, respectively), and the percentages for both of these groups were higher than for White and Asian children 10 percent each)" (p. iii). ​At grade 4, the White-Black gap in reading achievement scores narrowed from 32 points in 1992 to 26 points in 2017; At 8th grade, the White-Black gap in 2017 (25 points) was not measurably different from the gap in 1992.

In 2013–14, a higher percentage of Black students (13.7 percent) than of students from any other racial/ethnic group received an out-of-school suspension.

From 2000 to 2016, the Black dropout rate decreased from 13 to 6 percent, and the White rate decreased from 7 to 5 percent. The Hispanic status dropout rate in 2016 remained higher than the Black and White rates.

Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups 2018 (NCES 2019-038).

Co-construction is the idea of parents partnering with schools and with teachers to promote optimal development and learning for each child. In co-construction, roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and relationships are created that allow for parents and teachers to meet these responsibilities.

Given the statistics above, parents raising children of color need to be especially active co-partners in their child's learning. Here are 5 tips to becoming your child's best education advocate!

1. Show up - Busy is not an excuse!

Your choice. Give time now to shaping your child's development and learning;

or give time later attempting to correct negative behavior patterns and their consequences.

  • Go through the school calendar at the beginning of the school year. Select three or four events for the year, and commit to attending. This is a great activity to do with your child of any age.

  • Attend back to school night as a listener and observer. Information you take in will guide your response should your child express concerns about school or teachers at any point later in the school year.

2​. Don't Get it Confused - Your child's school experiences are not your school experiences!

  • Speak positively to your child about school and encourage positive interactions with school staff and with peers

  • Respect your child's learning style - which may be different from yours

  • Observe your child's approach to learning new things in all different types of environments to better understand his/her strengths and needs.

  • Acknowledge and support your child's interests - which may mean connecting him/her to someone else who can better nurture those interests.

​3. Mistakes are a Natural Part of Learning - Don't overreact!

We understand that falling is a natural part of a child learning to walk. This is the same attitude we should adopt to our child learning math, science, and ELA. In every learning experience, children need varied opportunities to practice. They will not always get it right the first time.

  • Set and maintain high expectation for your child. Discuss these expectations with your child and give him/her permission to tell you where they need help.

  • Scaffold learning for your child - like a staircase - build in supports and opportunities for success as your child climbs toward their learning goals.

  • Acknowledge your child's effort and persistence as essential tools to learning.

4. Promote a Confident Learner!

Learning is not an experience that children have only in schools. Find opportunities to introduce your child to new information and new experiences outside of school.

  • Have fun! Quality learning doesn't always have to be serious business. Young children practice with new information and new ideas through play. Play might look different as children get older, but the cognitive, social, and emotional benefits remain the same.

  • Do not compare your child to siblings or to yourself. Instead, help your child set realistic goals and assess progress towards those goals based on his/her strengths and efforts.

  • Model self-talk for your child. Self-talk is problem solving out loud - naming the problem and talking through solutions. Engaging in self-talk builds the child's awareness of the process of thinking things through, reflecting on what did and did not work, and using "I can"language.

5. Do You! - You are your child's first and best teacher!

Be an example for your child by continuing to set learning goals for yourself.

  • Maintain interests and activities that feed your desires.

  • Where necessary, increase your skills and knowledge so you can be more confident helping your child with homework and other school activities.

  • Anxious parents raise anxious kids! If you are worried about your child's development and/or learning, seek appropriate information and advice - and be open to listening to those you reach out to.

Go easy on yourself. Ask for help. Seek information and support. It really does take a village!

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