All children parents experience some level of anxiety at the start of a new year:
Will my friends be in my class? Will I get my favourite teachers?
Will my child apply himself and do the best he can? Or,
Will my daughter make the top netball team she’s trained so hard for?
When your child has ADHD, the concerns are very different:
Will the teachers understand my child?
Will my child have someone to sit with at lunchtime, or will they be alone?
Will my child be invited to any birthday parties? Just one would be nice this year!
Here are some tips from our book to help you work with your child’s school. In a future post we’ll share tips for teachers.
Educate the School (and teachers about ADHD and your child
- Provide the school with copies of reports from professionals who have worked with your child. Ask the school to communicate with professionals who might be able to assist them to understand and meet your child’s needs.
- Provide information about ADHD and co-existing conditions relevant to your child.
- Provide information about ‘twice-exceptional’ children if that applies to your child. For example, a student with ADHD in a robotics programme may excel at some aspects of projects but fall short on others, such as report writing. Request that accommodations be provided when required.
- Offer to work with the school to identify and address challenges.
- Ask the school what they have in place to support your child, and what they are willing to add or modify.
What if the information isn’t shared with teachers?
Although most parents provide the school with information concerning their child’s ADHD diagnosis, their communication is often with the principal or deputy principal, and it is assumed that the information will be passed on to all teachers. ADHD is an invisible condition, and your child’s teacher, if uninformed, may not be aware that your child is struggling. Some suggestions for improving communication include:
- Give each teacher a page of information about your child. Remember to include information about your child’s strengths, not just the challenges they may experience. Include information about strategies you are working on at home, to promote teamwork. Let them know about strategies successfully used by past teachers. Inform them also of approaches that have not been successful that have not been successful.
- Ask teachers to communicate with you on a regular basis. This can occur through your child’s diary or via email. You can use this communication channel to inform teachers about challenges on the home front that could affect your child’s performance at school from time to time. Teachers can pass on information about problems encountered, or successes achieved by your child.
- In addition, ask teachers to inform you when projects and tests are assigned. This will allow you to work on time management and chunking skills with your child.
- Remember, the teacher is the expert on teaching, and you are the expert on your child. Develop a partnership with your child’s teacher. When battle lines are drawn between teachers and parents, your child will be the loser. Respectfully offer information on ADHD and other conditions that affect your child and ask how you can work together. Remember to acknowledge the teacher’s efforts.
- Always go to school meetings well prepared. If you have requested a meeting, make a note of points you wish to discuss. For meetings requested by the teacher or school, ask about the purpose of the meeting and find out who will be attending. If you feel intimidated, or if you become emotional in meetings, take your partner, a friend or advocate along for support.
Adapted from The ADHD Go-To-Guide. Facts and Strategies for Parents and Teachers. Available here:
Australia: UWA Publishing
USA: Amazon USA
UK: Amazon UK