How I Failed at Gifted Advocacy

My son is about to turn 13 and I have been failing at gifted advocacy for about 10 of those years.

“Wait, did you just say failing?”

Yes. Yes I did.

Since I only have a handful of years to continue failing him, I thought I’d share with you all the ways I went wrong.

I didn’t start early enough.

B taught himself to read at 2.5. By the time he was in preschool he was pretty much reading chapter books independently. For some reason I didn’t want to mention this to his teachers in fear of “showing off” or something.  I guess I thought they would figure it out on their own. Once I realized they didn’t (which was over a year later), I did mention something and he was placed in a grade up reading group.

 

I empowered my son to speak up when he wasn’t satisfied with his education.

I didn’t want to become “one of those parents” who thinks their kids need to be pushed into MORE so when B had a complaint about school we role played how he could approach his teachers with the problem.

This sounds like a good idea right?

It failed. EVERY. TIME.

I’m not going to get into details of how my son was treated when he tried to advocate for himself but I’m here to tell you that it’s not a good idea.  If I could do it over again, I would BE THAT PARENT over and over again.

 

I used too much WD 40.

It’s hard to believe that I wasn’t the squeakiest wheel but I’m here to tell you that I wasn’t and in turn missed out on opportunities that were given to the squeakiest.

I’ve since thrown all the cans away.

 

I didn’t get actionable items in writing.

I can’t tell you how many hours we had meetings with well-intended educators, to collaborate on paths we can take to support B in his educational journey. These educators have come up with excellent ideas worth executing. We were so on board we would leave these meetings feeling GREAT.

::a month passes by::

Nothing happens. Not. One. Thing.

With nothing in writing I had nothing to follow up on except words in air.

 

I assumed being involved would allow me to have all the knowledge I would need.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am 80% more informed about our local education programs than the average person but that 20% I don’t know sometimes has the information I need.

This may all make me sound angry and bitter but I am not. Our educational journey has not always been a smooth road but it’s been our road.

Our number one success in advocacy is listening TO our child. What does he say about school, what works for him, what does he want. What are his goals?

When we combine listening to our child with efforts to advocate for him, we aren’t failing. We are parents.