When your child has ADHD (also known as ADD), it’s important to talk with his teacher about how it affects him. By knowing which ADHD symptoms your child struggles with, the teacher can find ways to help him be successful in the classroom. Here are tips for talking to your child’s teacher about ADHD.
1. Make an appointment.
Instead of trying to catch the teacher 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 how familiar the teacher is with the condition and whether she’s taught kids with ADHD before. If her knowledge is limited, or if her examples don’t resemble your child, you can explain that ADHD is a brain-based condition that affects kids in different ways. For instance, not all kids with ADHD are hyperactive. Some kids may just struggle with paying attention or daydream a lot.
3. Give specifics on how ADHD impacts your child.
Since ADHD can look different for every child, let the teacher know what she’s most likely to see in class. Does your child tend to talk out of turn? Is he hard to get back on track when his attention wanders? Does he use lying as a coping mechanism? Is he 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 teacher knows your child’s IEP or 504 plan, if your child has one. Provide a copy and ask her to look over the accommodations. Let her 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 do what he can to live up to 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 providing a daily schedule was helpful. Or giving certain cues to let your child know when he’s off-task. Explain why the strategies were successful. Be sure to mention what hasn’t worked, too. For instance, maybe last year’s behavior contract wasn’t helpful.
6. Ask what the teacher sees and suggests.
The teacher may suggest strategies that have worked well for other students. She 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 the teacher to make sure everybody has a good year. It can make her feel supported and reassure her that you’re available for further communication. A teacher who feels 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 for you to stay in touch. For example, does she prefer email or phone conversations?
For more tips on communicating with your child’s teacher, explore conversation starters that can get the ball rolling on a handful of topics.