I’ve been advocating for almost 25 years and I’ve noticed there is a pattern of how parents postpone getting help for their children who are struggling in school. As advocates, our office is extremely busy during the end of the school year. We can barely keep up with the demand of phone calls and meeting requests.
Then, on the last day of school, the phones stop ringing. The phones just stop because parents are done. They are finished with school and they don’t even want to think about school during the summer. They are exhausted and they just want to focus on their summer plans. The last thing they want to do is talk to an advocate. I get it.
A New School Year Full of Hope
Then the start of school rolls around in the fall and most parents are thrilled because they are ready to send the kids back to school. They buy new backpacks, pencils, rulers, notebooks and clothes. The kids will be out of the house! Yippee!
Caught up in the excitement, parents tell themselves, “You know what? It really wasn’t that bad last year. He didn’t really struggle that much. He’s going to do better this year. I just know it.”
Or, “It wasn’t his fault he failed math. He had a bad teacher. This year he has the ‘teacher of the year!’ Of course he’s going to do better!”
So school starts. Parents are in a state of happiness, optimism, hope, and joy. The school year gets underway then after a few weeks the honeymoon is over. Kaput. The problems from last year start to raise their ugly heads. A parent may wonder, “Now where did I put that advocate’s business card?”
Many Parents Think It’s Going to Get Better
Parents think if they wait a little longer he’ll all of a sudden learn to read. With a little more time spent on homework, she’ll understand math. Some parents just do not want to rock the boat. They want to be “good” parents and not create a fuss. Hiring an advocate would create a fuss.
Then fall turns into Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s almost like there is an unconscious sigh of relief because, after all, it’s the holidays! So much to do! Let’s have fun! I’ll worry about the school stuff later. If he doesn’t improve I’ll do something after the holidays. I’ll call that advocate later.
Happy New Year! Suddenly parents start to say, “I cannot ignore this anymore. There is a problem and I have to get my child some help. Where’s that advocate’s phone number?” That’s when parents start to call us for help, in January, February and March. At The IEP Advocate, our phones are nonstop! Parents are in a state of panic. Almost each one is in crisis mode. A fifth grader is reading at a second grade reading level. This one cannot do grade level math. Another child is at risk for being retained. My heart goes out to each and every one of these families.
Parents want a miracle to happen at the very end of the school year. Call us in the fall when school starts so we can advocate for help right away! You know your child has a problem. You know they are struggling! You know they need help. Please, call us now. Don’t waste seven or eight months of your child’s education because you could not face the truth!”
As your advocate we can do so much more to help you if you call us sooner rather than later. Getting services from the school district takes time, no matter how good an advocate you are.