Here’s how I see it…there are three types of people – those who ask for permission, those who don’t and just back away from whatever it is, and those who just do and deal with the consequences later.
The “typecasting” typically starts in childhood – e.g. asking to stay up past 9:00 or just doing it and dealing with the parental wrath later. We were taught that the act of asking shows good manners and respect for the other person, and we teach the same to our kids as what parent doesn’t want their child to be considered well-mannered and respectful. Yet here’s the thing … the “real lesson” is giving the *permission* to ask. It’s the step that precedes “ask and ye shall receive” because if you don’t know it’s okay to ask, many simply don’t.
Believe it or not, there are millions of parents who are reluctant to ask their child’s teacher (or principal or IEP team members) the questions that fall into the “5W’s” category: Who is bullying my son at lunch; what is being done to help my daughter develop her organizational skills; where is my child’s aide during transitions when problems are continuing to occur; when will we receive the data being collected; why is my son still reading well below grade level. And we haven’t even touched on the “h” question – how are you going to help my child learn social skills or how is it that my child’s IEP goals are repeated from year to year. All questions that parents *must* ask, yet far too many appear to be hindered by the asking process because they are waiting for permission to do so.
Some of the reluctance to ask comes from fear… of questioning the “experts”…of retaliation…of being labeled one of “those parents”. Yet fear is not a good enough reason not to ask, and certainly not when your child is struggling in school. Asking is the conduit to information and it is – or needs to become – an ongoing activity. This is one area – and time – where parents need to stop worrying about how they’ll be perceived and start realizing that their job is to ask…and to keep asking.
So consider this the blanket “green light” to ask…for answers, information, explanations, data, reports…whatever it is that you need. And if you’re not sure exactly what you need, ask for everything involving your child – records, work samples, charts…everything. Because here’s the reality…I guarantee that when a parent walks out of a physician’s office after hearing their child has autism or a reading evaluator’s office with a diagnosis of dyslexia, one of the first “out-of-the-gate” responses (after possibly shock) is to ask…everything. There’s no difference when it comes to school.
The only way a parent can truly become an advocate for their child and the “true expert” about what’s happening in school is to ask…and ask often. And the path to asking begins with having the permission to do so. Permission granted.