Navigating the school years can be challenging for any parent, but can be particularly daunting when your child has ADHD. One of the most crucial first steps at the beginning of each year is to talk to your child’s teacher. They can vary greatly from year to year and establishing a working relationship will help ensure that your child’s teacher is prepared for the school year. Even if your child has an education plan, like a 504 or IEP, having this conversation is critical.
Whether you’ve just learned that your child has ADHD or you’ve had a couple of years under your belt, here are a few tips and strategies for talking to your child’s teacher about it:
5 Tips for Talking To Your Child’s Teacher About ADHD
Schedule a meeting, but not the first week of school
The first week is often hectic for everyone, and the teacher is just starting to get to know your child and their class. Scheduling an initial meeting for the second or third week of school gives everyone a bit of time to adjust and allows the teacher to become more familiar with your child and their behaviors.
Write a letter
At the beginning of the year, it can be helpful to introduce your child to their teacher in a letter or other form of communication. This letter should include the positive things you love about your child (their creativity, fun spirit), as well as things that have worked well for them in the past (standing while working, sitting close to the teacher).
Establish a Daily Report Card
A Daily Report Card (DRC) is often the “secret weapon” for classroom success for children with ADHD. They do best with specific, positively stated, targeted goals and frequent feedback throughout the day. A DRC should contain three or four target goals for which your child gets visual feedback on a regular basis (i.e. every hour). Here is an example of one.
You know your child’s behavior best, and know what has worked or what has been difficult for them in the past. Anticipate problems that may arise and offer some solutions based on what has been successful with other teachers. Be clear with the teacher how often you would like to communicate, what you would like to know, and the best ways to reach you (calls, emails, text, etc). Stay positive and work with the teacher on creating solutions as needed.
Establish how frequently you would like to receive updates about your child’s progress. Many parents may find it frustrating when they get negative reports of many behaviors only at the parent-teacher conferences. With regular “quick” communication (emails, texts), you may receive more frequent reports, but it can also be helpful to coordinate scheduled meetings with your child’s teacher. The first meeting should be approximately six weeks into the school year, and then can be regularly scheduled after that (average about four to six weeks apart).
Following these steps will help you establish a working relationship with your child’s teacher. If you’re looking for further guidance, or are struggling with your child’s teacher or school, our Family Resource Center or the National Resource on ADHD may be able to assist you in finding additional resources.