As a family doctor, I interact with children who have ADHD on a regular basis. One thing that often amazes me is how great a help some teachers, schools, and districts can be, while others seem like they actively trying to obstruct the child’s development!
Let's focus on strategies to maximize your child’s chances of getting quality help from the school system.
When should I meet with my child's teacher to discuss their needs as and ADHD student?
If your child has ADHD, I would recommend meeting with their teacher as early as possible in the year. When it comes to this discussion, sooner is better than later. You'll want to discuss how you can work together to help ensure their coming year will be successful.
Should I be the one with suggestions or will my child's teacher?
Ideally, it should be a combination of the two! It's helpful to discuss both the type of things YOU can do at home to help your child, as well as the types of things your teacher can do at school.
During this discussion, I would suggest that while it's important to make your teacher aware of your opinion, it's also important that you truly listen to theirs. ADHD is relatively common and not new to teachers. In fact, studies suggest that in a class of 30, as many as 3 kids will be ADHD! As such, they will likely have very good insight into your child's difficulties. Let that experience work for you!
What is typically discussed in a meeting like this?
- Specific tasks and goals to work on with your child
- Resources other children with ADHD have used in the school
- What accommodations - if any - would be needed for your child
- How your teacher will evaluate your child after 4 to 6 weeks of school with them (Here is a link to a free online ADHD evaluation tool that I have developed)
- A specific meeting date a month or two in the future - you'll want to review the teacher's evaluation, reassess how things are going, and to see if new strategies need to be implemented
What should I do after the meeting with my child's teacher?
- Talk to your child about expectations.
- Work on implementing the strategies you and the teacher discussed. (Make sure you are doing your part.)
- Encourage your child on a regular basis. Spur them on when things get tough and let them know you recognize when they are doing well.
- Be consistent and persistent! No ADHD intervention works perfectly the first time around; keep it up and things will get easier!
How should I prepare for that follow-up meeting with my child's teacher?
- Email the teacher to remind them about the meeting. In the email, include a link to the ADHD assessment test, and ask the teacher to have it done before the meeting so that you can review the results with them.
- Take notes about how you think things are going and areas you want to talk to the teacher about.
- Fill out the ADHD assessment test yourself. That way you can get a feel for how things are going at home compared with how they are going at school.
What should happen at the follow-up meeting with you child's teacher?
- What's going well at home and at school and what areas need improvement? Review and compare your test results.
- Should changes be made to your behavior modification strategies?
- Should changes be made their accommodations - do they need more, less, or different accommodations?
- A date for your next follow-up meeting. This should be based on how well things are going.
It is amazing the difference a parent/teacher team can make in the life and behavior of a child with ADHD! If your child has ADHD and you haven't talked with their teacher about that yet, I strongly urge you to!
In my next blog, I'll go over some teacher consultation tips for parents who suspect their child may have ADHD, but have not had them formally tested yet.
Dr. Jeff M.D.