Updated: Feb 7, 2019
By Mary Lovell.
Recipe Makes One Serving:
As parents, we are our children’s first advocates* — their first voice. Most parents advocate for their children in some way, but for those of us with gifted children, we often come to that point quite by accident. We find our preschooler reading while his age mates are learning their letters or our third grader acting out in class because she finishes her work before her classmates. What is a parent to do when their child becomes very frustrated when the pace in school doesn’t keep up with their needed rate or rage to learn? Voila – this is often the time when a parent recognizes that their child’s differences need a voice to insure that they do not lose their joy to learn. Parents seek ways to guarantee that their child’s needs are appropriately addressed.
So how does a parent approach the teacher, principal or counselor and share concerns that affect their child within the confines of a classroom? Sometimes when we approach school personnel it feels as though they don’t quite understand our concerns or know how to address them. Sometimes we achieve successful accommodations. Oftentimes we become frustrated, angry, and exasperated. When advocacy goes well, it can be a pleasure to work with others who also care for your child. When it does not, there are sometimes ways to turn it around. The following is one basic recipe called for Homestyle Advocacy that I have found successful. Obviously, you may need to add additional ingredients for your situation. Also remember, with any recipe advocating for a child be prepared to make a substantial investment in time, perhaps money**, and don’t forget to include good humor, especially when you feel like crying.
1 worthy cause – your child
At least 2 or more positive enthusiastic parents who are kindred spirits
Giant cups full of thoughtful research and understanding concerning giftedness
At least 1 supportive insider – a campus teacher, principal, administrator or counselor
1 or more methods to share information
Dash of creativity
Gallons of polite persistence
NOTES: Of course we think of our children as not merely a worthy cause – they are our primary cause. Be aware that educators, principals and counselors must balance many other similarly worthy and often legally mandated “causes”.
In addition do not ‘assume’ teachers, counselors, principals ‘GET’ gifted education. The fact is that while many do, many still do NOT and may never ’get’ it. Therefore, learn to prepare the following basic recipe for your one child. Certainly feel free to save and share with your next child or another parent who finds themselves in a similar situation.
1. Combine cause and parent’s thoughtful research:
· Understand the characteristics of giftedness and how they apply to your child.
· Locate, read, and understand the state and school district policies with respect to meeting the needs of students identified as gifted including children with other exceptionalities if that is your child’s situation.
· Seek how the school and district implements these policies.
NOTES: The Internet offers more resources than ever before with high degrees of credibility. Enlist the resources of accredited national associations such as NAGC and its state affiliates to help guide you. Check out websites like Hoagiesgifted.org and uniquelygifted.org, email lists at TAGFAM.org, and online resources such as the 2enewsletter.com. A SENG model parent group is often an excellent resource to connect with parents who quickly become kindred spirits and friends.
At first you may feel that you are in this by yourself, but stretch out into your larger community, state, region or country. There is strength in numbers, but remember this recipe is only for one main dish for your child at this point in time. You may also want to include family members like your spouse, grandparents, aunts or uncles in sharing information and gaining understanding. Family members may lack understanding too and can become unintentional stressors.
2. Knead the research and ideas thoughtfully together. Keep stirring, sometimes briskly, sometimes slowly.