Updated January 9 2016
original post-Sept 15 2014.
As  the year progresses I will update my  Do You Know The Rules of School Posts

Listening to steps after dark I heard the words of   retweeted
Tuesday#HotTipsnTopix Kerry Lee Speaks Author of "Awakening a Cultural Unconsciousness Equitably Improving Student Achievement"
Brought me to this blog originally

Hello all, it's Michelle Smith, your Health and Social advocate. I hope all is well? last year I did a blog about learning the rules of the school system. That blog received over 2200 views. Thank you for your continued commitment to reading my blogs. Being a Parent is a difficult challenge that requires as much support as possible. With my now, 21-year-old daughter and my 16-year-old son, The rules of School is a topic that requires continuous follow-up. At best I am a Parent advocate.

Learning to navigate the school system dates back to my own experience of being a hyperactive, outspoken student which even back then was labeled as ADHD. The struggle was real for my Mother, especially since they continuously tried to convince her to put me on Ritalin and send me to DellCrest Centre an organization that addresses child Mental Health. My Mother was a very strong advocate for me, which has been a very valuable lesson especially since I had to follow suite and become an advocate for my children. There are various factors that may effect onces ability to advocate for their children. The goal here, is to give all Parents the knowledge needed to navigate the school system successfully.

I must admit, the struggle was real with the constant complaints regarding what now has become cycled behaviour known to many as ADHD, Yes they said my Daughter had it too. The day care had concerns regarding her attention span. Let us move forward to my Son, who was commonly labelled as the "class clown" due to his outgoing humorous demeanour. Sounds lovable doesn't it? Well, his teachers did not find it lovable that he constantly interrupted the class.

My struggles became a question of inquiry for all students and parents. As a Mother that has faced many social challenges, I am determined that knowledge is Power, but as Kerry Lee Crawford put it knowledge is power only when applied.

I have independently raised my children with the help of various community organizations. This experience has been a true testimony   to the benefits of supporting community organizations, and individuals that are trailblazers in changing outcomes in the community. The TDSB states "Our Mission To enable all students to reach high levels of achievement and to acquire the knowledge, skills, and values they need to become responsible members of a democratic society.

It is essential for you to understand that your child's educational journey starts with you. High School may seem far away for many of you, but it is a good idea to understand the choices that your child will have throughout their educational journey. This blog represents information from the TDSB (Toronto District School) however, whether you are in York region, Peel Region, Durham Region, Knowing the Rules of school will exist in the same manner.

Acknowledging your child's learning style sooner rather than later will help you be a better advocate for your child's education.Keep in mind that parents or guardians can request meetings with teachers, principals, school counselors, or other school staff anytime during the school year. As cited by the TDSB 

let me share with you a quick story, It was 2012,  my Son was in grade 8 getting ready to pick his courses for grade 9, he had a Teacher that unfortunately did not feel that he was capable of academic math. Even though I was educated  and fought for him things where very much out of my control (This process is done in February prior to your child going into grade 9)It was 2013, February I decided that I would take the opportunity of Optional Attendance for my Son's High School years. As a Parent you do have the option to choose another school  for your child, especially if you feel that your child may be more successful in another school in another area. The choice  was also made with my Son for him to attend a school that he was interested in.  CyberStudies@George Harvey C.I. which strives to prepare students for academic success after high school. Staff work closely with students to ensure that high expectations are met. Our high academic focus includes programs such as STEPS to University of Toronto, STEPS to College, and dual-credit courses, and it ensures that all students have options to pursue their skills and passion. What a great choice for my Son. I was so proud of him for applying to this school and him getting accepted. Their was one small problem, his grade 8 Teacher did not think he was capable of being an Academic math student. 

It was the 3rd week of grade 10,  I wanted to uncover his feelings about school, his teachers and his overall experience with having to take this  transfer credit in order to go into academic math for grade 10. He was upset of course because he had to spend his summer doing a subject that he was already capable of doing

Your child's Guidance counselors and Teachers play a significant role in steering your child's future. So get to know them all, I recommend making your first contact within the first 2 weeks of school, and for Youths in High School within the first 3 weeks into each semester. This will show that you are  committed to the success of your child. Give the school the  best way to contact you.

 As a Parent, it is also very important to be honest about your child's needs, if he or she requires more attention then let it be known. Success is the main goal, but if you find resistant or require further assistance learn to ask. Get to know your child's Principal, Vice Principle, The TDSB Trustee for your area. Get to know them all.

 Anthony took the summer school course and did very well. This blog may seem as if it is mainly for my Son  but one common issue throughout the community is that Girls are being  encouraged into academic streams more than boys.  Even though there have been great initiatives for STEM programs ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)  This has to be cultivated earlier rather than later in students, in order to give them the opportunity to acquire this passion. Please note Stem programs are at an academic level, so if your child is steered away from academic courses pursuing a career in that field may be difficult  to attain.  

The moral of  this blog is that  both of my children have had  their individualized challenges, Anthony has continued to excel into grade 11 receiving many awards, he is a leader in his school. As parents, it is very important to understand that you are not alone. For 2016, let's continue to  work towards student success

 Take the wheel and steer it. Get involved by understanding the different programs offered by your school board. Learn your options. Be apart of your school's parent council,  and lastly get to know your area school trustee
Special Thanks to Mr. Patrick Aptan VP and the Teachers of George Harvey Collegiate for their continuous support and dedication to student success.

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