As your child begins the school year in a new classroom, the early steps you take to partner with your child’s teacher can make a big difference in getting things off to a good start. Kids with ADHD will typically need extra help in the classroom, and when teachers know that they have support from parents they feel much more appreciated for their efforts. With 20-30 children in a class, teachers often begin the year knowing only a few key details about each of their new students. As a parent, you know your child’s full history. You know what makes them tick, which strategies your child has responded to with previous teachers, and which strategies were not so successful. Most teachers will appreciate learning these details from parents, especially when it’s presented collaboratively. Always keep in mind that teachers are ultimately in charge of their classroom and likely have substantial experience teaching children with ADHD. In fact, they may have some excellent tools and strategies that others have not tried in the past and end up being a great fit for your child. So, keep an open mind when your child’s new teacher shares their thoughts about how to teach your child and manage their attention and behavior challenges.
Planning a teacher meeting early in the school year will also provide an opportunity for you to learn about the academic expectations in your child’s new classroom – and in particular, homework expectations. I have worked with so many families whose children struggle with homework, expending two, three, or even four times more effort on homework than other children in their class. But since these kids ultimately turn in their assignments on time, their teachers never realize that homework is such a challenge for them. Once they understand what is happening, many teachers will recommend modifications to reduce the burden. For example, they may recommend that your child complete only one page of practice math problems instead of two, or break large projects down into small components with individual due dates. In addition, if your child struggles in a particular subject area and you have already enrolled them in a learning center or are working individually with your child at home, then share this information with your child’s teacher. They’ll appreciate your extra effort.
Lastly, if your child’s teacher recommends a daily behavior chart in the classroom, offer to check the chart every day at home. Provide praise, and maybe even rewards, when your child meets the teacher’s daily point or sticker goal. This will allow you to monitor your child’s progress every day. It will also help your child feel motivated to do their best, knowing that their parents will be proud.
So don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher at the start of this new school year. Opening up the lines of communication early will help get things off to a good start, and will set your child up for success all year long.