EdNews Parent Expert Justin Darnell responds:

Q. How can I teach my child to be his/her own advocate in the classroom?

A. I would begin by teaching your child how to interact with people socially. How do you greet someone? What do you say in polite conversation? Have them practice these skills with you and other family members.

Second, have your child practice asking questions. Teachers may not no there is a problem or issue if you never ask questions. Third, speak with the teacher before or after school. Many students will attempt to advocate for themselves in class, but there is not always time. We will also need a quiet more relaxed environment to hear and respond to your concerns.

Fourth, have your child write what they are thinking. They can write the questions, comments, or ideas they want to share. They do not always have to communicate with spoken word.

Finally, have your child share information about their life. What are their interests?  What is their favorite color?  What do they do on the weekends?  This information helps build relationships, and if your child is comfortable with their teacher, then they are more likely to open up.

You can even let the teacher know that your child would like to speak with them, and the teacher will be on the look out for this conversation, so that they can better facilitate its progress.