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royspeed

A challenge for our high-school-aged students: Advocating for oneself

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Hi, everyone.

My wife, Diane Speed, has long been interested in a challenge for our students not directly addressed in the high school curriculum — it seems to be something we parents must prepare our students for. That challenge is advocating for oneself.

We just completed getting our second child into college, and we've been struck all over again — just as we were with our first child — at how many situations required her to advocate for herself with adults: interviews, auditions, college-admissions essays, scholarship-application essays, negotiating with schools about increasing scholarships or waiving requirements, and more.

Has anyone else found this challenge as striking as we have? — Have any of your students taken courses that helped lay groundwork for this particular challenge?

Diane has been writing about what she sees and has posted her thoughts in a two-part article (links below):

  • (Removed link) Here Diane reviews various situations in which high-school-aged students must fend for themselves in their relationships with adults, e.g., for DE students, with professors. — She thinks it's important that our students invest in those relationships.
  • (Removed link) In this part Diane addresses the ways our students must advocate for themselves both in the college-admissions process and when applying for scholarships. She also suggests things we parents can do to help address some of the skills/abilities our students need to be effective with these challenges.

 

Is anyone else bumping into these issues?

—Roy Speed

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Not here. My ds was always very comfortable advocating for himself. Far more comfortable than I’ve ever been or will be.

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My dc are just starting high school this year, but I have already noticed this. Some of their peers are naturals at self-advocating and some, like mine, are not particularly fluent in the skill. I've tried to handle it by staying a bit removed from their main extra-curriculars and interactions with outsourced teachers. I will offer suggestions but let them decide on the final approach. I've also noticed that as they mature and become more aware of the inner-workings of the people around them, they become better at this skill. I am interested in reading your wife's article.

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Two of my kids were great at advocating themselves as teens and in college, the other two (my youngest is almost 17) would rather chew their arm off than do so.  Nature vs. nurture is fascinating.  

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Yep, learning to self-advocate is a big feature of the transition to young adulthood. My kids are probably tired of hearing me say, “You’re paying them, not the other way around!” in the context of addressing issues with teachers, coaches, etc. I think modeling appropriate and respectful self-advocacy from the time kids are small can make this seamless. 

I just talked my college senior through what she will need to do to get a requirement waived (pertaining to campus housing/meal plan); she was happy to address the issue more or less on her own. That would have been a stretch a few years ago, but it was natural/easy now. I think a lot of it is just maturity.

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My oldest was fine, but my youngest had to mature.  He went to a very large university right out of high school (his last two years were dual enrollment program specifically designated for high school students that kept the kids in a cohort with the same teachers for two years).  He took Chemistry - the class that has about 500 students- and had difficulty trying to get help (his issue).  Anyway, he came home and finished his first two years at the community college, and now is back enrolled at big university for his last two years of engineering.  He was able to practice advocating for himself in a smaller, more accessible environment.  It took the passage of time and practice to learn this skill.

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I think some kids are good with interacting with adults & some aren't. I think some kids have no issue writing about the good things they've done (or struggles they've dealt with) & some are very uncomfortable.

Do I think it can be taught/coached? To an extent, yes. I'm certainly trying to help my less extroverted kids (just about all of them) become more comfortable interacting with others. I think some adults never get to a sense of ease in all of these type of situations. And I definitely don't think the learning ends when you go to college.

BTW, I didn't click on the links when they were in the OP; I already get the marketing emails & didn't click on them there either.

If there was magic dust you were selling that would work to get this done, I'd buy some for myself. Maybe. My kids are going in the right direction already.

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1 hour ago, arctic_bunny said:

Thinly? 😂 

 

I was trying to politic. Which is not a condition inherent to my nature. Cut me slack here, sister. 😂

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  • Haha 4

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My older two needed more of my help in learning to advocate for themselves.  As much as I tried to help them learn these skills before they left for college, I wouldn't consider those efforts a complete success ... partially because we were dealing with other issues prior to leaving for college and adding that would have just been overwhelming, and partially because they didn't encounter as many situations where they needed to do that for themselves.  I did try to model the behavior I wanted and it was an effort for me because I used to be a meek little wallflower until I had kids.  But they were not nearly as observant as my younger child ... They were busy looking for a hole in the ground to swallow them😄.   I found that I needed to do a bit of behind the scenes coaching ... re-framing the situation (they deserve to be treated fairly and it was worth the effort rather than to let it go ... or it wasn't as overwhelming and we could break it down), giving them language, playing out scenarios, and just being open for questions.  

Dd was much more of a natural at observing the model I tried to set for her as well as learn vicariously through her older siblings experiences that she does a much better job on her own.  But, she is also much more willing to call me to sound something out and not see that as me mothering her, but as she would a friend with experience.  

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I think of it as part of becoming an independent adult--and as both a parent and a homeschooler, it's something I was always working towards. So, when my kids were little and got a duplicate Happy Meal Toy, if they wanted a different one, they had to go to the counter and ask. If we were on a museum tour and they thought of a good question, they had to ask (sometimes with some help from me to get the conversation started.) etc...

Banking--I had them talk with the bank and answer the questions to get their savings account set up as elementary aged children. Same thing with things like library cards.  Basically, I went with and supported, but I didn't answer questions for them in most situations with adults--I was teaching them to self-advocate all along. By the time we got to college, it really didn't seem much different, just more of it. 

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Both my DC have (one currently is) done ScoutsBSA (the org formerly known as BoyScouts. Girl Scouts is structured differently).  We've found it to be especially good for teaching this skill.

Done correctly, scout troops are run by scouts. Youth pick the outings, badges to work on, run meetings, plan and execute campouts, track everything, do most of the instructing, etc. Adults are there to ensure safety and to assist - when asked.  That last bit has been the key. 100% of the adult leaders we've encountered would bend over backwards to help - but the individual scout must initiate and ask (sometimes adults, sometimes older scouts) for whatever it is they need.

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On 7/31/2019 at 8:55 AM, Kassia said:

Nature vs. nurture is fascinating.  

 

And longer I am at this parenting and homeschooling journey, more I wave a white flag. Nature wins here hands down every time. I wish our experience were different.

 

 

 

Edited by Roadrunner
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13 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

 

And longer I am at this parenting and homeschooling journey, more I wave a white flag. Nature wins here hands down every time. I wish our experience were different.

 

When I was young and knew everything, I was a big believer in nurture. My reaction to that now: 🤣

I don't know that it disturbs me, however; it just is.  I find that I've become fascinated in genetics and neurology. It'll give me something to read when my short person leaves me next year. 😱

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22 hours ago, JoJosMom said:

Is it just me, or is this post just thinly disguised advertising?

 

I was thinking OP’s post is marketing survey (testing waters) for a new course 😂  My kids did like his Shakespeare classes. As for advocacy, maturity and interest are factors for my kids. My “quiet one” is a better advocate than my “noisy one” except he only advocates when he is interested and really wants something.

2 hours ago, JoJosMom said:

 

When I was young and knew everything, I was a big believer in nurture. My reaction to that now: 🤣

I don't know that it disturbs me, however; it just is.  I find that I've become fascinated in genetics and neurology. It'll give me something to read when my short person leaves me next year. 😱

 

When I was very young, I thought my dad was “slower” than his 8 older siblings because he had malnutrition from being born during WWII. My mom’s parents had enough money during the war to feed three kids. My younger brother is similarly slow (though less) so it could be both genetics and malnutrition at work for my dad.

Both my husband and I are slackers so that means the probability of my kids not being slackers would be negligible 😛

ETA:

Public school kindergarten did “teach” DS14 to advocate for himself because it was a case of the squeaky wheel gets the grease and he was “swimming with the sharks” since his kindergarten classmates learned to “speak up” in preschool.

Edited by Arcadia

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No need here.  Part of authoritative parenting is fostering independence and reasoning; the dc have learned to effectively advocate for themselves as they grew up.  Playground negotations, talking to the Principal about inappropriate assignments, finding jobs, plenty of opportunity.

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2 hours ago, JoJosMom said:

 

When I was young and knew everything, I was a big believer in nurture. My reaction to that now: 🤣

I don't know that it disturbs me, however; it just is.  I find that I've become fascinated in genetics and neurology. It'll give me something to read when my short person leaves me next year. 😱

 

I am glad I was once young and optimistic. I might have not homeschooled at all if I knew what I know now. Yet it has still been a right decision for us, some of the times 🤣

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