It’s the school’s job to educate your child. But they need your help, to do it the right way.
Make sure your child gets the education you want for them
Talking to the school can be real shame. This is sometimes the case for parents and carers who left school early, and who did not have good experiences at school due to racism. Rodney understands how hard it can be. But he encourages others – especially dads – to get involved at school.
“I know it’s hard. But I had to do it. I had to bring myself to these people, to get the services I’ve got for our son now. I had to go there, talk. And It’s hard, I know, as an Indigenous person, to do all this. But you have to push yourself. And be assertive. Let them know what you want, and how you want your kid to grow up and learn. And what he or she is comfortable with … To my brothers – man, you’ve gotta bring yourself there. And push yourself. It’s for your kid.” – Rodney
You don’t have to deal with the school alone. You can get help from a support person.
Keep in touch with school
Keeping in touch helps you and the school to be aware of any changes in your child’s life, or the help they need. If things are going well at school, the teacher can let you know. And that helps you feel good about them being there. And if there’s a problem, you and the school can work it out before it becomes a big drama.
Sometimes children need to be away from school, for example if they have hospital stays due to their special needs, or if the family has to travel because of cultural responsibilities. Let the school know when your child is going to be away, and for how long. Then they can plan how to support your child and help them catch up, when they return.
Different ways to keep in touch
You can chat to the staff at drop off or pick up time. Some children have a communication book, so you can tell the teacher what’s been happening at home, and they can tell you about your child’s day at school. If this doesn’t work for you, ask about making a regular time to check in, at drop off or pickup, or over the phone.
Stacey’s young son has a communication book. She also goes into his school regularly. She finds it a bit intimidating, but she still does it. It’s a bit easier, knowing how much her son loves his young teacher.
“Because I’m older than him, it’s sort of easier for me to approach him. And it seems like he’s a deadly teacher. Like, you can see all the boys in the class, they love him. My boy comes home and tells me what he’s been doing, and tells me, ‘Jamie this’, and ‘Jamie that’.” – Stacey
The school should be having meetings with you once a term, called Student Support Group meetings. Parents and carers might find these meetings hard going. You can get help in meetings, and to work with the school.
Meet and share your knowledge
At these meetings, you can tell the teacher what your child is good at, what they need help with, and what they need to feel comfortable at school. As Suzanna says, you know your own child best.
“We’ve got to work with the teachers. We’ve got to allow them to say what they want to do, and help them along by explaining to them, ‘This is my child’s character… this is who he is, and what his needs are.’
Like, because my son is autistic, he likes routine. If something is not in routine, like a teacher is not there, then of course he’s going to react …. You know your child best. You know how they react, and what strategy you use. Like, don’t be afraid to tell them what you do when he gets stressed.” – Suzanna
Communication goes both ways
Suzanna always lets school know, if something happens at home that could affect her son at school.
“I’ll ring them to let them know – ‘Look, his breakfast went out the window this morning because his green t-shirt was not there.’ So they’re aware. If he plays up, there’s always something behind it.” – Suzanna
Suzanna expects the same from the school. And this requires good relationship between the family and school.