The new school year is upon us, and you want your child with ADHD to be happy and successful in school. You advocate for your child, but you can’t engineer your child’s success alone. You need to enlist your child’s school to team up with you. Here are some winning strategies to accomplish that:
Visit the School Early On
Talk with the principal and ask to come in the day before school starts, if possible. Introduce yourself and your child to your child’s teacher either the day before or on the morning of the first day. Ask your child’s new teacher for a suitable time to have a quick chat one to one and use this opportunity to give your teacher a brief summary of your child’s diagnosis and general needs. If your teacher can anticipate your child’s needs and implement one or two strategies that you’ve shared, this will put everyone at ease, especially your child and set him up for a good start to the new school year.
A short visit before school starts – whether you get to meet your child’s teacher or not – gives your child the opportunity to see where he will stand on the playground, which door he will be using to enter the school, and the path that he will take to get to his classroom. This will put him at ease and make the first day of school no big deal.
Use a Cheat Sheet
Ask for the school’s e-mail address, and send along a cheat sheet for your child’s teacher. Include information about likes, dislikes, preferences, and strategies you use at home. Mention any strategies that other teachers used in previous years that were effective. Your child’s teacher is trying to learn about 20+ other students in her class, so make this easy for your teacher, for you and your child.
Use the opportunity to emphasise your child’s key areas of strength and weakness. You may say, “My child is a great out-of-the-box thinker and learns best by using all of his senses. So, if you are working on math concepts, you may want to give my child some manipulatives to teach the lesson in a visual way.”, for example.
Schedule Regular Check-Ins
Schedule a 30-minute meeting with your child’s teacher every three or four weeks to review strategies, accommodations, academics, and social and emotional behaviors. Identify three or four areas that you want feedback on regularly. Suggest new strategies or find out which strategies your teacher is using, so that you can also use them at home. Having consistency and continuity between home and school makes it easy for your child as well.
Talking about shared strategies holds your teacher accountable to use ones that you’ve discussed instead of her trying something for a few days and dropping it. If you are using a behaviour plan, ask your teacher to show you copies of your child’s behaviour chart so you can look at trends over time.
For example, does your child struggle on Monday mornings? Does your child have difficulty after a long break? Is your child spent by the end of the day? When you have answers to these questions, you can create accommodations to help your child be successful.
Here’s to a great school year!