What Does "Navigating Education" Really Mean?

As parents, we all dream of a beautiful future for our kids.

From the day they’re born, we pour our energy into building those dreams – with countless bedtime stories, with tooth-brushing practice, with impromptu lessons on playing nice at the park, with coats and sneakers and Halloween costumes, and a thousand other things. We want to give them big blue skies.

Eventually, it comes time to send them off to school. We know from our own experiences—for better or for worse—how important education is to unlocking a life of opportunity and making those dreams real. And that’s where things start to get really stressful.

In cities across the country, we have more information about schools than ever, and more school choices than ever. Yet understanding that information and making sense of those choices can be confusing and frustrating. We’re bombarded with data, decisions, and obligations that begin with pre-school and continue through college. Figuring it all out can be a challenge for even the most well-organized and persistent of us.

In the end, most of us enroll our children in school, do what we can, and hope for the best. Too often, though, our hopes aren’t realized. Consider that, although more than 90 percent of parents expect their kids to go to college, only about one-third of all students actually earn a bachelor’s degree by the age of 25. The rest settle for less. Many students veer off-course early in their journeys – and parents don’t even know it is happening.

We created EdNavigator to help parents do more than hope.

Our goal is to help them demand excellence and get the best education for their children. To that end, we give every one of the parents we work with personalized support from expert Navigators who understand schools deeply, know the local community intimately, and can help make things happen.

What does it mean to “navigate” education? For us, it means understanding where each family wants to go and doing whatever it takes to help them get there. We focus on things like:

  • Asking the right questions: Is this student on grade level? The school is beautiful—but are kids actually learning? Why is this child getting good grades but doing poorly on state tests?
  • Translating school-speak: For example, “He does all his work” usually means he’s compliant but struggling academically.
  • Insisting on action: This student has been struggling in reading for four years. Why isn’t there a plan in place?
  • Improving communication: A parent shouldn’t have to call school five times before getting a call back.
  • Making the options manageable: Based on where this family lives, there are three pretty good elementary schools with open seats.
  • Being there at critical moments: This child’s progress report shows some red flags, but mom has a family emergency and can’t get to school. We’ll send a Navigator to the meeting.

It’s all too easy for families to get lost in the requirements, processes and red tape of today’s school systems, and all too easy for kids to fall off track without anyone raising the alarm. By providing families with useful information, honest advice, and hands-on support to solve problems, we hope to ensure that they have a more positive experience, from kindergarten to college.

Over the long term, we have larger ambitions.

Through this work, we hope to grow and strengthen the connections between businesses, communities, families and schools. We hope to shine a spotlight on the challenges that we see families facing along the path to a good education, and to put positive pressure on school systems to ensure that they’re responsive to the families who trust them with the lives of the people they love most.

There’s a long road ahead. We plan to share what we’re learning on this blog, along with resources and information that can help parents and schools support every child’s success. We hope you’ll join us along the way.

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Real Engagement Means Telling Parents the Truth