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how to advocate for your child in school

As mama, you know that you are your child's first teacher and you play a huge role in their life. You know your child's strengths and challenges better than anyone else.

So if you've discovered that your child has difficulty with teachers, poor grades, difficulty playing with matches at school or they just need more individual attention, it might be time to speak up and make sure they get the care they need.

It sounds challenging, but advocating for your child is amazing—it is not pushy, demanding or crossing boundaries. As a middle school counselor, I am a strong believer that a parent's perspective adds the biggest piece to the puzzle as to how the school can best assist a child. It can still be difficult to know where to start when communicating with the school about the needs of your child and how to work as a team, but with practice, it will become easier, mama.

Here is the best way to advocate for your child in school:

1. Talk to your child

No matter what the topic may be, talk to your child first. Find out how they feel about the topic and what they think the school can do to support them. This conversation will vary depending on the age of your child. Don't forget to ask your child what they should be doing to improve the situation. They are the biggest part of the equation.

2. Follow the proper path

Go to the right source and follow the chain of command. Following the right path of communication will save you time. For example, if you have questions about your child's grade, go to the teacher first. In most cases, your question or concern can be resolved by that first person. If not, feel free to go to the next level. You are not going over anyone's head. You are just trying to find out more information for your child so they can be successful. If you are not sure who to call, the school counselor can point you in the right direction.

3. Do your research

Although you can rely on the school to provide you with information, it is important to do your own research. Check out the school's website and the teacher's website where you might find out good information and policies. And do your own due diligence. For example, if the conversation is about grades, make sure you are up to date on all the report cards that your child received so far.

4. Ask questions

During the meeting, ask many questions. School personnel sometimes use educational jargon because it is the vocabulary they use every day. However, for a parent, that vocabulary can make things confusing very fast. Don't be afraid to ask them to clarify as often as you need. After all, it's true that there aren't any dumb questions.

5. Take notes

It is extremely helpful to take notes during your conversation with the teacher. Any conversation about your child can have emotions attached to it so it can be easy to forget exactly what was said. Writing down a few key words can jog your memory later.

6. Make a plan

Remember, you are working as a team with the school to ensure the best for your child. You want to make sure that there is a plan in place that everyone agrees on. The largest part of this plan is typically what action your child is going to take. It helps to know when and if there will be follow-up communication from the school about their progress, but make sure you're both on the same page about next steps.

7. Talk with your child

After the meeting, talk to your kid about it. It is a very powerful action when you speak to the school on their behalf so it can send a message to them about the importance of their education. Your child should understand the plan and be reminded that everyone is there to support them.

8. Stay organized

This step does not take much but is an important one. There is already a lot on your plate, so don't rely on just your memory. At the top of your notes, write down more details, like the date of the meeting or conversation and who it was with in case you have to meet again later in the year, or during conferences. This will make the rest of the year and advocating so much easier.

9. Follow up with the school

Put a reminder in your phone to follow up with the school a couple of weeks after your meeting if necessary. The school personnel will appreciate it and it is a perfect way to proactively advocate for your child together.

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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