Tips for Parents: Advocacy in Education
Davidson Institute for Talent Development

This Tips for Parents article is from a seminar hosted by a Family Consultant at the Davidson Institute. It provides practical suggestions for anyone interested in educational advocacy.

A Family Consultant led an informational seminar for parents of profoundly gifted students on the topic of advocacy in education. The following list of pointers were suggested.

  • Communication: Go in with a "how can I help you, help me" attitude. It will usually be received more favorably than if you enter meetings with a "You do not know anything and I am the only one who can teach you" attitude.

  • Work towards a compromise. Add more to the table than you know you will get. This way, the school will reject some things but it is possible that you will get a few key accommodations for the year. And remember, there is no "perfect" solution.

  • It can be intimidating, not knowing if you are advocating for the setting that will work best for your child. Do not be paralyzed to move forward. Trial and error is all right. If it turns out that the accommodation is not working out for your child, you can always advocate for a different setting.

  • Join community groups such as the PTA or local gifted programs. This way, you may find an advocate for you. It may also give you more of a voice and allow more people to find out what is happening in gifted education in their community.

  • Break down the myth of gifted being synonymous with elitist. Re-iterate the idea that the school has made accommodations for other children who have special needs. Ignoring the fact that a child needs accommodations is elitist on the schools part.

  • Try and find at least one person in the school as an ally. This could be the principal, a special education teacher, gifted coordinator, or another teacher in the school.

  • Bring in a portfolio of your child's work and test scores to all meetings.

  • Pick your battles: include teacher selection as one of the battles. If possible, interview the teacher and sit in on his/her class before making a final decision.

  • Re-evaluate your child's educational placement every 3-6 months to determine if things need to be altered.

Suggested Readings

    Advocacy for Exceptionally Gifted Young Children: A Guidebook, compiled by the Davidson Institute Family Consultant Team. Download a copy here.

    Considering the Options: A Guidebook for Investigating Early College Entrance, by Nancy Robinson & the Davidson Institute Family Consultant Team. Download a copy here.

    Re-Forming Gifted Education, by Karen Rogers.


Contributed by: Parent on 5/20/2004
Good overview of important tips on educational advocacy for parents of gifted children.

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