Do parents need to be advocates?

Trish is a dedicated mother of a gifted child and she has shared information and ideas with me.  The last time we had coffee together, I was explaining the workbook that I will be using in the upcoming parent workshops on Strategic Advocacy.  After some thought, she gently pointed out that my workshops are based on an assumption: that parents need to advocate for children described as gifted.

She’s right.  My assumption is that parents of these children have to become advocates, a role that does not necessarily come naturally to them.  I’ve never met a parent of a child described as gifted who hasn’t had to make an intervention with the school. But perhaps my assumption is flawed. I decided to look for scholarly references to support the  assumption.

In her book, Academic Advocacy for Gifted Children,” Barbara Gilman argues throughout that parents must be advocates. For example, in her final section entitled “The Call to Arms” she writes:

Parent advocates must chart a course for a gifted student through school, navigating the rules of the system, locating supportive teachers, and discovering appropriate options. Parents must ultimately manage their children’s education or the status quo will prevail–the gifted child will be expected to progress through school in the standard manner.

Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster, in their book Being Smart about Gifted Education, wrote a chapter on “Parenting Matters” and began by saying:

It is an unfortunate but predictable reality that education systems designed to meet the learning needs of most children are often less effective in meeting the needs of those who are exceptional. Even the most highly competent educators do not always have the knowledge or support that they need to work effectively with gifted learners, including checking their progress on an ongoing basis.  This means that parents have an important role as advocates for their children, and they must remain flexibly open to changing needs in both cognitive and emotional areas.

These and other sources persuade me that my assumption is valid. I think Trish will agree.







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