1. Make an appointment.
Instead of trying to catch teachers in the morning or after school, set up a 15- to 20-minute appointment. That’s enough time to talk without interruption. It’s also not so much time that either of you will be distracted by what you have to do next. Meeting before the school year begins is a helpful way to have strategies in place from day one. But that doesn’t mean you can’t touch base at other times of year, too.
2. Fill in details about ADHD.
Ask teachers how familiar they are with ADHD and whether they’ve taught kids with ADHD before. If their knowledge is limited, or if their examples don’t resemble your child, you can explain that ADHD affects kids in different ways. For instance, not all kids with ADHD are hyperactive. Some kids may just struggle with paying attention, or they may daydream a lot.
3. Give specifics on how ADHD impacts your child.
Since ADHD can look different for every child, let teachers know what they’re most likely to see in class. Does your child tend to talk out of turn? Is it hard to get your child back on track when attention has wandered? Does your child use lying as a coping mechanism? Is your child very disorganized? If your child has a hard time controlling emotions, like anger or anxiety, that’s important information, too.
4. Talk about current accommodations.
Don’t assume your child’s teachers know the details of your child’s or , if your child has one. Provide a copy and ask them to look over the accommodations. Let them know you’re available to talk about how those accommodations for ADHD help your child. But also make it clear that you expect your child to meet school expectations, with that support.
5. Share strategies that have (and haven’t) worked for your child.
If there are strategies or systems your child has used successfully with other teachers, share them. Maybe a daily schedule was helpful. Or maybe you give cues that help your child notice that it’s time to get back on task. Explain why the strategies were successful. Be sure to mention what hasn’t worked, too.
6. Ask what teachers see and what they suggest.
Teachers may suggest strategies that have worked well for other students. They might also have ideas on how to adapt techniques to fit your child’s needs or improve strategies that haven’t worked for your child in the past. Together, you can come up with a plan for trying informal strategies to help your child in the classroom.
7. Ask what you can do.
Asking how you can help shows that you want to partner with teachers to make sure everybody has a good year. It can make them feel supported and reassure them that you’re available for further communication. Teachers who feel supported may be more likely to reach out to you before a problem becomes large and unmanageable. Be sure to work out the best way to stay in touch. For example, do they prefer email or phone conversations?
For more tips on communicating with your child’s teachers, explore conversation starters that can get the ball rolling on a handful of topics.
About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.
Bob Cunningham, EdM has been part of Understood since its founding. He’s also been the chief administrator for several independent schools and a school leader in general and special education.