Tip of the Week

March 12, 2024

Hear my voice

Self-advocacy, the ability to communicate one’s needs and preferences, is not an innate skill. It’s a learned skill that often needs to be taught explicitly and practiced. 

Many students don’t speak up for two primary reasons.

  1. Fear of appearing weak, incapable, or being different. 
  2. They struggle to articulate their needs and/or don’t know the right words to use. 

For #1, we must consistently remind students that asking for help is a sign of strength and confidence. 

For #2, we need to help our students find the words and practice using them. 

Model it. “Send your teacher an email” is a great idea until they open the email and then stare at it not knowing what to say or how to say it. Instead, open an email together and model the language one might use to ask a teacher a question or for more information. 

Role-play it. “Go see your teacher after school” is excellent advice, but only if the student has the words and is confident in articulating their need. Instead, role-play it first and practice getting the right words out in a conversation. You can do it both ways: have your child play the role of the student and the teacher.

In both scenarios, conversation-starters can be helpful. 

“I’m having some trouble with…”

“I don’t understand this. Can you please explain it to me again?”

“I re-read the directions but I’m still a little confused.”

“I’m feeling overwhelmed by this assignment and don’t know how to start…”