6 Tips for Helping Your Grade-Schooler Learn to Self-Advocate

By Erica Patino

58Found this helpful
58Found this helpful

Self-advocacy is a great skill for kids to develop. You can give your grade-schooler information and opportunities that will help him become a stronger self-advocate as he gets older. Here are some things to try.

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Help your child understand his learning issues.

Your child doesn’t necessarily need to know the name of the diagnosis, if there is one (such as dyslexia). But it’s important that your child know its effects. (“I have trouble reading and spelling.”) Let your child practice ways of explaining those learning and attention issues to other kids. (“It takes me longer to read, but I do the same work as everyone in my class.”)

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Help your child learn his own strengths and weaknesses.

Part of growing up is learning about personal strengths and weaknesses—what comes naturally and what doesn’t. Rather than shielding your child from his own learning and attention issues, point out where he can use help. When you do this, don’t forget to mention what he’s good at, too. (“You may need some extra help in math, but you’re acing your language arts class.”)

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Practice what to say to teachers.

Your child may be afraid to ask too many questions or request accommodations. He might think that asking for those things will annoy the teacher. Remind your child that teachers like active learners who work hard in school. Practice when and how to ask a teacher for help. (After class, tell your teacher, “I need to look at notes instead of writing them down. Can you help me with that?”)

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Zero in on how your child learns.

If your child understands how he learns best, he’s better equipped to self-advocate. You can ask questions like “Do you think you learn better when the teacher shows something or when you read it?” to help him figure out what works best for him.

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Let your child make decisions.

Where does your child want to study at home? In the bedroom or the home office? What type of notebook is best to buy for a new class? Give your child choices and plenty of chances to practice making decisions. Also, help him to know how to ask for things that he wants. (“Mom, I love that pasta dish that you make. Could we please have it sometime soon?”)

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Let your child know you two are a team.

Kids in grade school are just starting to learn about self-advocacy. Assure your child that you’ll do most of the advocating now and to let you know when more help is needed. Self-advocacy skills can help your child deal with current challenges and ones in the future. Learn more about the importance of self-advocacy, and consider other ways to improve your child’s self-esteem.

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About the Author

Portrait of Erica Patino

Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Donna Volpitta

Donna Volpitta, Ed.D., is coauthor of The Resilience Formula: A Guide to Proactive, Not Reactive, Parenting.

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