For Parents of Children of Color When Called to Your Child’s School

This is meant to encourage you to engage with your child’s school, especially your child’s teachers.
It is well known that there are so many things that can go wrong in life and for your children, it begins at home, with you and what they receive from you. How you speak to them, discipline them, comfort them and love them. How you manage stress and adversity, the way you communicate with others. Your child looks to you as their guide and model.

From home outward, your children’s character, self-esteem and motivation are also being influenced in the school setting; the way the teacher speaks to them, engages, encourages and perceives them. All of these early, yet lasting experiences will impact your child’s choices, goals, behavior and character in adulthood. It all begins with childhood, and most often, experimented with in school.

family biracial
Do your best to show respect for your child and for yourself, as we know you love your child and wish the best and the same from others to them. Children are people who deserve respet and they learn how to show it to others. Sometimes its hard to visualize a positive future for your child, given all he or she faces around them. I understand, and if not, then  do your best to make me and others understand. Don’t allow others to assess, teach, perceive or discipline your child unfairly. Never give up on your child’s potential! Encourage him or her and set them up for success!
You may have had less than positive past experiences in school, and now your expectations and confidence in the system to give your child what you didn’t receive has diminished. You may believe that you have no confidence in the ‘system’, but the fact that you send your child to school every day, proves that you still hope for the best. You still wish that your child is resilient and determined enough to beat the odds and succeed.

Engage with your child’s teacher and help them understand that your child is important, intelligent and can succeed under the right conditions. Let them know that you do your best to provide those conditions at home and want teachers to collaborate with you to support achievement. Never allow them to think that you don’t care, aren’t concerned. Your involvement informs them and ensures that your child is always considered a valuable learner at school. confusion
Through all of your daily battles for family survival and total wellness, your child is not able to do what you do. He or she is not yet equipped to do so. You are depended upon to ensure your child’s experiences are positive and just. Remember that your child is just now learning how to successfully navigate challenges, mistreatment,and the like. Because most teachers at your child’s school will probably be white, your child and you must act as a teacher and mentoring coach to them, however subtly.
Their perceptions, decisions and manner of interacting with your child in the classroom will be influenced by their immaculate perceptions regarding your child-race, culture, experience and inherent capacity.  You must understand that implicit bias is present, as in other settings, throughout the school system.

Chances are that, at some point, you will identify a decision or act that will feel inherently wrong. Know that, for the most part, any impactful biased decisions are not deliberate. They, too, want your childto succeed. They simply lack sufficient insights that will challenge their bias. The more knowledge they possess about you and your child, the better and more appropriate the relationship. Give them info.

ladies sing
Don’t go to school up in arms or overtly angry, in advocacy for your child. Go willing to listen to others, but self-assured about your parenting and your child’s capacity. Also, be prepared to learn that your child has actually been fairly assessed or disciplined. Trust your gut, but be prepared to entertain alternative decisions. Don’t forget that, even if your child was wrong in some way, discipline is usually more severe for children of color for the same infractions as white children.Ensure equity and the less ‘disruptive’ strategies are taken.
Do not act what others may perceive as,  ‘black’ if your child is found wrong in some way. Be calm, yet angry or disappointed in your child’s behavior. Do not embarrass your child in front of others. Be mindful that it is far worse for your child that you appear to demonstrate your harshness in the presence of others, as that may make it easier for them to demonstrate similar harshness to your child outside of your presence.
Thank the school staff for informing you about your child’s behaviors and assure them that you will deal with it at home. Once again, show that you are disappointed in your child and reassure the staff that this shall not be repeated. Let them wonder about how you will make that true. If your child is to be dismissed at that time, simply thank the staff for informing you and wish them a pleasant day. Don’t forget to request any and all class assignments for your child to complete at home.

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Photo by Christina Morillo on

The very last strategy utilized at school is to call the home. They understand your other responsibilities. Even if your child has been unfairly accused, you would still want to thank them for informing you, but make it clear that this call was unnecessary. Tactfully, once again, do not get animated and begin to yell and come out of character. School staff, even when they call home, are very afraid of parent’s reactions and responses to them. Be mindful of that, and be politely purturbed.
Question everything, and ask if there was all done in the setting to manage behavior prior to that call.There are times when it may be easier to call home than to employ strategies to manage behaviors in that setting. A major reason for this is that the teacher has no other strategies to enable them to handle it right there. Still, it is not meant to disrupt your day, hen calls seem disrespectful and unnecessary. I have been guilty of this myself as a teacher.
woman-poses-e-learning-female-159750.jpegRemain closely involved in your child’ daily activities, both when you are present and when you aren’t. This is especially important as children approach adolescence and teen years. There are many distractions out there which may lure your child off the right path at this time in their lives. You don’t get to turn back the clock when something goes away. With any hope, you may get a ‘do over’.
Refrain from the relying on the fact that you are busy, have to be at work, etc…. While I totally understand the hectic schedules of parents today, there are still ways to keep your child doing the right things. That means that you must be more creative! Expand your reach. Become close with your neighbors, extended family. They may be your best allies and when your child understands that there are others besides you who may ‘snitch’, they are more likely to be careful with their choices.

Parenting is a challenging role, and with so many distractions today, parents need extra help and additional sets of eyes at all times. Network with others, expand your social connections, and perhaps agree to reciprocate with others in monitoring their child’s whereabouts and activities. Help them help you raise your child to be his or her very best selves. After all, it is all done out of love and in the child’s best interest. The pipeline to prison is very real!

Keep your child on the pathway to pursue and realize his or her potential. Share your parenting strategies with others, too, for it does take a village-your village!


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