Turning Teachers and Administrators into Allies
As a parent, it's essential to build bridges with teachers and other school personnel to ensure your child is getting the help and attention he needs. While most children with ADHD can succeed in a regular classroom, sometimes children need additional assistance or adjustments.
Make sure your child's teacher has the necessary training and experience to deal with your child. Remember that many teachers are already handicapped with too many students, and not enough assistance and materials. If you feel your child's teacher isn't equipped to deal with ADHD, ask the school principal if your child can be placed in a different classroom.
Tips for Building Bridges with Teachers
Here are some tips and strategies to build a good communication line with your child's teacher(s).
Reach out to your child's teacher. Before the school year starts, schedule a get-to-know-you meeting so you can get a better handle on the teacher's teaching and discipline style and determine her experience level in working with children with ADHD. You may also want to use this meeting to provide the teacher with information about your child's symptoms, behavior, and specific learning and academic strengths and weaknesses.
Develop a school plan with the teacher that capitalizes on your child's strengths and helps overcome his weaknesses. Look at constructive ways to deal with behavior problems that may be related to ADHD. This plan is a work in progress that will change as your child gets older and progresses through the school system.
Don't be afraid to ask for special help for your child, whether it's tutoring, or special assistance with homework, study, or organizational skills. Some school districts have tutors and other local resources that can help your child bridge academic gaps.
Maintain an open line of communication with your child's teacher so you can work together to resolve any new or ongoing problems. Keep the teacher abreast of any changes in symptoms and treatments that may have an impact on school work.
Show your interest by visiting the classroom and volunteering for activities and projects.
Ask your child's teacher to give you regular progress reports on your child's classroom performance, homework assignments, discipline issues, etc.
Schedule an end-of-school conference with your child's teacher to review your child's progress and look at ways to improve performance in the year ahead. You may also want to ask about teachers your child may have in the upcoming year and how you can best help your child succeed in school.
Keep your child in the loop. Make sure he understands that you support his teacher, and outline how you expect him to behave and perform in the classroom setting. You may also want to tell your child how he will be disciplined in the event he misbehaves.
Maintain all treatment regimens provided by your physician, including medication, behavior modification, and other modalities to help control ADHD symptoms at school and at home.
Develop consistency between school and home by using the same language and signals used by your child's teacher to indicate inappropriate behavior and to reward exceptional performance.
Help your child get organized by using lists and calendars to keep track of tests, homework assignments, and projects. Show older children how to use tape recorders or computers to facilitate learning, teach them how to take good notes, and show them how to highlight information to make essential points stand out. If your child is a visual learner, ask the teacher if he can use workbooks illustrated with pictures and diagrams.
Building Bridges with School Personnel
As well as developing a good line of communication with your child's teachers, you should also get to know other school personnel who will have an impact on your child's learning environment, including the school principal and special education teachers.
Be proactive by talking to the school principal about specific policies and rules, including how discipline problems are handled, before the school year begins. You may also want to find out if there are other children with ADHD at the school and what special accommodations are being made for those students.
Ask how you can help educate your child's teacher, whether it's providing information on childhood ADHD or supplying the teacher with details of your child's diagnosis and treatment program.
The Importance of Keeping Good Records
When you have a child with ADHD, keeping good records can make or break your child's academic success. Good records can help you monitor your child's academic and behavior progress and help identify academic patterns that may signal the need for adjustments in medication or treatment.
Make sure you keep and continually update the following forms and records:
ADHD evaluations used to evaluate what type of ADHD your child has. These can be helpful in determining the best course of treatment.
Evaluations for coexisting medical conditions with similar symptoms
History of medication to keep track of all medications your child has taken and is currently taking to treat ADHD
School progress records, including school plans, progress reports from the teacher, grades, end-of-year reports, and standardized testing results
Individual education plan (If your child is disabled and has an IEP, keep a copy on file so you have it handy in case other health professionals treating your child need to see it.)