Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can make school a struggle. Problems with listening, following directions, and self-control can be roadblocks to learning. To help your child, work hand-in-hand with his teachers
Working as a team helps. It shows your child that the most important adults in his life have his back.
Here’s how to build a winning parent-teacher team:
1. Have face-to-face talks. Set up meetings early in the school year to talk about how ADHD affects your child. It’s different for everyone, and your kid’s situation is unique. Stay positive. Instead of talking about his problems, focus on what helps him. So avoid saying, “He never listens.” Replace that with something like, “I find that Johnny pays more attention when we’re in a quiet space and he looks me in the eye.”
If you have any educational reports or plans, like an individualized education program (IEP), share copies with the teachers.
2. Keep talking. Check in regularly either in person, by email, or phone and ask about your child’s behavior and how he’s doing with schoolwork. Check teacher websites about upcoming tests or big projects. Ask for the teacher’s advice on how best to help your child organize and prepare well ahead of the due dates. This can head off a last-minute meltdown for you and your child.
3. Be tactful. Choose your words carefully so you don’t put a teacher on the defensive.
Instead of: “Why aren’t you helping Johnny finish his class assignments in school?”
Try this: “I’m concerned that Johnny needs to finish classwork at home. Is there anything we can do to help him work more quickly at school?"
4. Don’t take things personally. You may get calls saying your child’s disrupting class or not paying attention. Don’t lash out at the messenger. Instead, say that you know your son often is a handful, and then talk about solutions to the problems. Simple things like changing where he sits or giving him directions one task at a time may help.
5. Keep teachers in the loop. If you start or change ADHD medication, tell the teachers and administrators. They can watch for side effects and let you know if medication seems to be helping. Also, let them know if there’s a big change at home -- like a divorce or death -- since these kinds of things can affect any child’s behavior.
6. Set shared goals. Many ADHD symptoms affect your child inside and outside school. If following directions is a problem, brainstorm with the teacher about ways to help him stay on track that you can use both at home and in the classroom. Using the same tools creates a link between school and home.
7. Be organized at meetings. Parent-teacher conferences are usually short, so come with a list of questions so you don’t forget to ask something important. Organize report cards, test results, and teacher notes in a binder so they’re at your fingertips.
8. Don’t be a stranger. Attend back-to-school night and volunteer to chaperone a field trip or help in the library. That will show the teacher and your child that you’re plugged into the school. And you’ll get a first-hand look at how your child interacts there.
9. Say thank you. When a teacher goes the extra mile to understand and help your child, write a simple note showing your appreciation.