If you have not done so lately, it’s time to make another appointment with your child’s school. Don’t wait for Parent/Teacher Conference days; not only are they infrequent, but the teacher’s attention is split between parents.
Have a specific, but brief, agenda.
- Check on how your child is doing, in terms of behavior, interest and academic performance.
- Question whether his or her academic level is on grade level, on par with peers, and also whether it’s appropriate for the child’s individual potential.
- If your child is in a special education program, she should still be performing at grade level and be academically challenged, but not pressured. Many children with AD/HD do okay, but they are capable of doing exceptionally well and are in fact underperforming. This is not necessarily a problem, but that’s for you to decide.
- Perhaps more challenge is needed to inspire better performance. Or perhaps some of the requirements are particularly difficult due to the child’s AD/HD or a co-existing learning disability, in which case a simple modification (such as using a computer in class to write assignments) would significantly improve her grades.
- If your child has an IEP (Individualized Education Program), check on his progress. It isn’t necessary, nor advisable, to wait for an “official” IEP review meeting.
- Check that your child is receiving any special services he’s entitled to—don’t assume that because it’s on the IEP or part of a 504 Plan, it’s being done! Ask the classroom teacher whether pull-out services are acceptably timed, or whether special services (speech and language, occupational therapy, counseling, resource room, etc.) occur during classroom time that is difficult for your child to make up, creating additional stress.
- Take part of the conference time to remind the teacher about your child’s particular skills and weak areas.
- Ask what the teacher does when there’s a “problem,” and offer appropriate suggestions based on your experience. Let the teacher know that you fully understand that your child may not be the perfect student, even with superb teaching.
- Explain that being your child’s advocate also means you consider yourself part of the team, and fully understand that the school also wants what is best for the student (your child). Reinforce the concept that you want to work with the teacher.
- Avoid taking a combative approach. In most cases the teachers really do care. For the few that would rather be “right” than effective, the ill-advised combative approach is even less effective. However, it’s critical that the teacher understands you are monitoring the situation and will not accept less than full effort and involvement.
- Remind the teacher that you want to be notified of any problem or potential problem early on; that you can provide support before your child falls further behind or gets into trouble. Sometimes teachers are reluctant to “bother” a parent when there’s some difficulty in class. Unfortunately, this is not the best approach for a child with AD/HD, who tends to get “stuck” in a pattern or behavior.
- Positive and strong parental intervention in tandem with the teacher’s efforts makes a more effective impact on the student than in-school intervention alone.
The A.D.D. Resource Center provides proven, practical tools and strategies to help individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity and related disorders to succeed. Our programs include coaching, parenting classes, home and office organization, time, project and paper management, group seminars, career and business development, couples workshops and more.
Harold Meyer and Susan Lasky are both Board Certified and Senior Certified ADHD Coaches.
To contact the authors: firstname.lastname@example.org
ADD and ADHD are used interchangeably for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
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