As students start to reach fifth and sixth grade, and enter into the world of middle and high school, they become more and more responsible for their own emotional and academic well-being. It is around this time that special needs students begin attending their own IEP meetings and being asked to listen and comment on their strengths, weaknesses, and accommodations. The ability to advocate for yourself can benefit all students, though, especially those gifted students who may have special needs or concerns in the classroom but do not have written plans and regular reviews.
Why should gifted students self-advocate? First and foremost, the ability to speak up for yourself is an important social skill (http://sengifted.org/a-case-for-affective-education-addressing-the-social-and-emotional-needs-of-gifted-students-in-the-classroom/) that all students, but especially gifted students, can benefit from learning. There are a variety of benefits to older students learning to communicate their own needs, rather than allowing their parents to be their sole advocates.
Self-advocating for gifted students can be a source of pride and an outlet for their intelligence and creativity. It also helps them learn important social skills that will help them beyond school (http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/eric/e632.html). And it empowers them to find solutions to make school more of a productive and positive place. These results carry over to other problems that may arise, in school and out.
So how can students self-advocate effectively? Here are my top four tips. Share these strategies with your child for a more successful negotiation with their teacher(s):
In addition to all these strategies, try to find at least one adult at school who you can talk to. Even if they can’t help you with this specific problem, having connections at school can give you important insight and support.
This article is reprinted with permission from https://giftedchallenges.blogspot.com/ and is used here with permission.
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
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