“Being a parent advocate for gifted children is lonely work.” That was the comment made by a parent I met recently, who has been working for several years to effect change in her school district. Many of us feel the same way, and it’s always helpful to meet and exchange information and ideas.
Curiously, although many parents work in isolation, my interaction with them reveals a common set of values and goals. It seems that, when parents of children described as gifted start advocating, they follow the same path. They face similar challenges, similar barriers in finding appropriate schooling, similar frustrations as they hear the myths about giftedness repeated. And they all want to see smiles on the faces of their exceptional children.
But I particularly admire my new compatriot because of the strategic approach she took in her advocacy. After the usual earlier years of waiting and wondering about what the teachers and other school staff will do to accommodate an exceptional child, she took the following steps:
First she became informed about giftedness through reading and research. Then she found out what the school district had to offer, and introduced herself to the trustees. She found allies among the teaching staff and administrators, managed to get a committee created, and helped draft a proposal for a small amount of funding to conduct a district-wide study.
Parent advocates like this are role models for others. I am convinced that support and programming for children described as gifted will only be achieved if parents in every school district become strategic advocates. We need to work together across the province to bring change to BC, because only then will we see positive change for each unique child.