Navigating the School System: Supporting Your Child’s Challenges

Roxanne Bélanger
Written by Roxanne Bélanger /

There is no right or wrong time to talk about getting help for your child.

This is a topic we need to talk about as often as possible to help demystify a situation that many parents go through. We aren’t able to choose the moments when our child needs us to step in for them! This article is an opportunity to share the information I wish I had read 5 years ago when I traded places at the parent-teacher conference table... changing my perspective from that of resource teacher to mother.

No 1 : The Facts

As parents, we wish that everything was smooth sailing for our children. But complex situations can arise (usually more often than we would like). For example, when we realise that our children’s friendships are difficult, that homework is a real pain, and that bedtime never comes. We might also witness more intense and even violent behaviours. 😩 And the day might come when our child doesn’t want to go to school or won’t cooperate with us anymore... Nothing seems to go right in times like these.

Accepting that my child was struggling affected me a lot. I felt like I was doing everything I could to support him and that it was taking forever for my strategies to work. Despite my love and effort, he maintained his particularities and sometimes continued to suffer. And… All of this came with a range of emotions related to my sense of helplessness.

No 2 : Think Team!

When the time comes to create a support plan, we need a team around us! As the saying accurately points out: "It takes a village to raise a child."

This is when talking to a professional about the multitude of concerns can become essential for many. It’s the step that will help you reassure yourself as a parent and obtain support. Many people worry about services being rare and difficult to obtain, but perseverance opens doors… even if it sometimes feels like navigating through a wild labyrinth! Nevertheless, some strategies can help: rigour will be your number one ally here. Get ready!

No 3 : Writing

An important step is creating a file for your child. Ha, for real??? Absolutely! Parents are the ones who know their children best. And if you read the beginning of the article, you’ve already thought about what does and doesn’t work for your child. My advice is to write everything down! List their behaviour, difficulties, strengths and things that work at home. Repeat this exercise from time to time; it will help you mark progress and see through the fog. Keep grades, exams, drawings, physical evaluations, and other documents in the same folder. Doing this has saved my life many times!

With this folder, you will be ready to meet with the school or a professional. Seriously, they will appreciate your thoughtfulness and preparation. Many professionals have told me it speeds things up by helping them understand the child’s needs and behaviours more quickly. Plus, your concerns will be backed up with facts, giving you parental authority.

No 4 : School

As parents, when we experience difficulties with our children, it’s important to contact the class teacher or principal. Remember that if you’re having trouble, the school staff are probably having trouble too.

You can request a meeting that is referred to as a case study. Often the teacher, principal, resource teacher and a counsellor will be present. Even though it’s intimidating, the discomfort eventually fades... at least a little. It gets easier every time! Indeed... it probably won't be the last meeting, but they are essential. One of the principles I like to keep in mind when the discussion gets tense is that the relationship takes precedence over disagreements. This allows me to express frustrations more strategically, even if it can be unpleasant.

The worst thing that can happen, in my opinion, is for there to be no contact between the parents and the school. This is something I experienced as a teacher and it really saddened me, because the child always suffered the most. 😟 In the end, our common goal is wanting the best for our children and we need to focus on this when things get tough.

No 5 : Taking Care of Yourself

Lastly, I encourage you to take care of yourself! Talking to a health professional and taking some time for yourself can do a world of good! Think of it like an emergency in an airplane: you need to secure your own mask before you can secure your child’s. Sometimes it’s the parent who needs air, and that’s completely normal!

Ask your employer if you have an employee assistance program or insurance to find out what services are available to you. It is also possible to ask your doctor or your child's doctor for a referral to obtain family assistance. The CLSC can then support the whole family, including you.

From the bottom of my heart, I hope that this article will help you for your child’s well-being as well as your own. Xx

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite resources: Boîte à Psy. It has resources for parenthood, emotions, ADHD and anxiety.

Happy reading!

About the author

Roxanne Bélanger
Roxanne Bélanger
Director of Operations and Services, B.Ed, MBA

With over 18 years of experience, Roxanne is a seasoned leader in education and operations. Currently overseeing operations and services at Optania, she has held key leadership roles, including chief executive officer and product specialist. Her career showcases a strong dedication to business management and a deep passion for education.

Roxanne's background as a teacher in special education and orthopedagogy provides her with a unique and valuable perspective in her current positions. This dual expertise has earned her respect in both the education and business sectors.

See all Roxanne Bélanger's posts

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