If not you, then who? A parent is a child's best advocate.
Intellectual giftedness is recognized as a learning exceptionality by the Ministry of Education. Children who are identified as gifted have a legal right to have their educational needs met, just as any other child with a learning exceptionality. Sometimes this can happen within a classroom or a home school environment with the proper supports in place. Sometimes, a child needs additional intervention. The Ministry of Education has recognized giftedness as an exceptionality. School boards receive funding to provide special education services to children with exceptionalities. As parents, it is our job to advocate for our children to ensure that their intellectual, social, and emotional needs are being met.
Believe in yourself. One person can do a lot, either alone or by mobilising others to the cause.
Don't be discouraged or side-tracked. The job may seem monumental or hopeless or officials may give you the run-around, or down-play the problem, or say that their hands are tied. Or you might be labelled a troublemaker or even coerced into some busy-work committee. Maintain in perspective and keep your focus clear.
Be systematic. You are the detective in the case of your child or a group of children. Build your case irrefutably:
narrow down the problem – be specific
do your homework – compare/contrast how your situation is similar/different from others
get facts, figures, compelling statements
organise your approach – prepare a brief strategy
specify the desired – some options can be described
indicate some time frame for results before taking your case further
Present your case assertively. Know who is who. While it's the best in the name of co-operation, to start with the lowest in the chain of command, there will be instance where you may need to go to the top first. Judge your strategy well. Keep others informed. Send copies of your submissions to those interested and those who should be kept informed.
Keep a log. Stalls, points of dispute, passing-the-buck may occur. You may forget why you started in the first place. Your log and your file may help you to keep on track and act as a mobilising tool to bring others along to your case or to inform the media.
Follow through. You may need to monitor any change, or build on it. You may wish to write it up to give courage and hope to others.
Be reasonable. Come judgement day, will you be able to show to others, including your children, that what you did was sensible and right for the circumstances? The ethic of advocacy prescribes that you don't gain at the expense of others. Make sure your gain does not cause grief to other children.
From LDA, 97-03-01 Please go to our “Steps to Take” page for “Making the Most of School – Sources of Help for You and Your Child”
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