Communicating with your child’s teacher about ADHD can make a difference in how your child approaches school. Clear and constant communication can turn any bad situation into a positive one.
The reality is that many ADHD children struggle with staying out of trouble in school, paying attention, or just fitting in. As the parent, you need to recognize the main person who can help with all of these things is your child’s teacher. To best help your child succeed, you need to know that you need teachers and teachers need you. Unfortunately, though, many parents go out of their way to avoid speaking with teachers.
Many parents don’t want to talk to their child’s teacher about ADHD because they might be afraid of the response. Additionally, parents might be afraid they are labeling their child as weird or broken. No matter how you particularly feel about it, though, there can be little doubt that communicating with your child’s teach about ADHD can be difficult. In this post, we want to give you some guidelines on how to approach it well and make it a positive experience. In the end, we hope you see the many benefits of why you should talk to your child’s teachers.
You can’t physically go to school with your child. Nevertheless, how you approach and work with their teacher can make a huge impact. Read on to get a better picture of what this interaction should look like.
#1 Be Proactive instead of Reactive
You need to start the conversation with your child’s teacher before a problem arises. If possible, you should try to start the conversation before the first day of school even begins. Communicating with your child’s teacher about ADHD does you no good if you only start after problems occur. After issues begin, parents tend to want to see the teacher in a negative light, and your child’s teacher might feel the same about you for being so distant to begin with.
To make sure you get your relationship off on a good starting point, contact your child’s teacher in the summer. Additionally, it would best if you could talk in person. You might reach out by email or phone and schedule a time to come in and talk.
To help break the ice, you should also encourage your child to write their teacher a letter or note. You can guide your child a little bit in the direction of the note. Ask them to introduce themselves and say how much they may be looking forward to the next school year. Also, have your child mention that they have ADHD. Send this note to the teacher so that it arrives before you meet in person with your child’s teacher.
These introductions and proactive meetings go a long way to show the teacher that you care about establishing a positive relationship. Communicating with your child’s teacher about ADHD can be challenging. If you need some more help getting ready, read up on tips for good meeting practices found at this link. Through taking the first step, you help break the ice and make the initial interaction both less hostile and less intimidating.
#2 Don’t Be Defensive
Oftentimes, parents prepare for communicating with your child’s teacher about ADHD like you prepare for a battle. You prep yourself and mentally prepare yourself to defend your child at every turn. Before you start down that road, though, you need to pause, take a breath, and rethink what you even want to accomplish.
Talking with your child’s teacher should not be viewed as a battle. Remember, no one is on trial, here. No one needs a defense attorney.
You should approach the conversation as if you want to learn as much as you want to instruct. Always remember that a conversation defers from a monologue in the give and take. If you don’t want to hear anything your child’s teacher has to say and only want to try to defend words or actions, little progress will ever be made.
Instead of going in with your guard up, loosen up before the conversation. You should strive to make the meeting light and conciliatory. When you start the conversation, try to make a joke or ask a question about the teacher or the classroom to break the ice. Try your best to recognize your child’s teacher as a person who wants to help as opposed to an adversary.
#3 Don’t Make Anyone the Enemy
Speaking of adversary that brings us directly to our next strategy for making communicating with your child’s teacher about ADHD a positive experience. Remember don’t make anyone the enemy. Too often, parents and teachers face off as enemies as opposed to allies. The reasons for this conflict can be varied as discussed in this post on teacher and parent relationships.
Whatever the underlying reasons, though, you need to work as hard as possible to avoid making the teacher the enemy. This underscores the point that you need to speak to your child’s teacher as soon as possible. Again, if you can start the conversation before the school year that would be best.
By starting early, you start with a clean slate. You have no reason to view your child’s teacher as the enemy. They haven’t had to discipline your child or inadvertently made them feel left out. No one has any reason to put the other party in a negative light. After all, you should not and cannot act as adversaries for the sake of your child’s education.
In addition to not making the teacher the enemy, you need to avoid talking negatively of anyone else associated with the school. Do not talk to your child’s new teacher about their old teacher in a negative light. You can discuss prior strategies that may have worked or not worked, but don’t make your conversation about attacking someone who isn’t present. Doing so will only leave a bad impression on the new teacher.
Remember, don’t search out enemies. You have enough issues as it is. Not everyone will do everything you want them to. You will have conflict. This doesn’t mean the school or your child’s teacher, though, doesn’t want what’s best for your child just as much as you do.
#4 Listen as Much as You Talk
Remember, just because you talk to someone doesn’t mean that you communicate with them. Communication involves a back and forth, a give and take. If all you do when you interact with your child’s teacher is talk than all you are doing is taking and making no progress.
When communicating with your child’s teacher about ADHD, resolve yourself to listen as much as you talk. Before you even begin the conversation, write out no less than ten questions that you want to ask your child’s teacher. Then during the conversation, ask the questions as they come up or alternate between saying something and asking something.
One of the main goals of your conversation should include identifying what the teacher knows about ADHD and what you want them to know. Some things to consider for these points can be found in this article. If they tell you that they don’t have much knowledge on addressing ADHD, refer them to articles with tips for teachers of ADHD kids.
When the teacher responds, truly listen to what they have to say. When we say listen, we mean to focus on what is being said instead of focusing on how you intend to respond. Know that you don’t have to respond in the moment to everything your child’s teacher says. Sometimes, it can be more beneficial to not respond at all. If you feel like you do need to respond, keep what you need to say short and to the point.
The point of listening involves the idea of fostering a team spirit. You and your child’s teacher should be on the same team, working together for your child’s benefit. Through listening and hearing your child’s teacher, you actually communicate this team idea.
#5 Establish a System for Follow Up and Future Conversations
You can’t just talk to your child’s teacher once and believe that you have solved everything. Working through ADHD takes times and constant communication. Besides you as the parent, no one spends more time with your child than your teacher. For this reason alone, you should talk with them on at least a semi-regular basis.
You can talk in person, perhaps when you pick up your child from school, and ask possibly how the day or week is going. If not in person, you could call them once every couple of weeks to check in. Alternatively, you can use email or an electronic communication system set up by the school for parent to teacher interactions.
Another way to continue the conversation may be through letter writing. Whatever the means of communication, you should talk enough that the teacher knows you care.
What you cannot do is just count on one conversation to help solve all of the potential issues that might come up. When communicating with your child’s teacher about ADHD, end the conversation by setting up the next time to talk. Don’t leave without having some system established.
You might simply say something to the effect of, “I would really like to follow up with you about once every two weeks. Would it be fine if I called you to occasionally check in?” More than likely, your child’s teacher will love that you show interest in following up and will be more than glad to accept your offer.
#6 Be Present
Effectively communicating with your child’s teacher about ADHD also means being present whenever you can. Communication at pick up or on the phone every few weeks helps and can make a huge difference. Ultimately, though, it just doesn’t cut it.
Both your child and your child’s teacher need to see that you care through you physically attending events at the school. Your child follows your direction on how to feel and respond towards school. By being physically being present, you’re telling your child that school is valuable and interesting. Your actions help make your ADHD child want to be excited about school.
One of the big events that you must make every effort to attend is parent teacher conferences. Your child’s teacher specifically sets aside this time to talk with you about the classroom and your child. You need to attend conferences whenever you can.
Additionally, make every effort to attend open house or meet your teacher nights, music productions, sporting events, or other events hosted by the school. If you can, you should try to even volunteer and chaperone some events. You can find more information about getting involved in your child’s school activities at this link.
When you physically go to the school, you know more about the environment your child spends most of their time. The teachers see your effort, and they know you care and want to be available. This is half the battle of getting through communicating with your child’s teacher about ADHD.
Make Communicating with Your Child’s Teacher about ADHD Part of Your Routine
Many parents find talking with their child’s teacher awkward simply because they don’t do it enough. Ultimately, they simply don’t know their child’s teacher or anything about them except what their child tells them. If you take anything away from this article, be sure you understand that talking with your child’s teacher should be a regular occurrence.
The more you talk to the teacher, the less awkward or strange you will feel. The more you communicate, the more you will see each other as teammates or even friends. You need to work with your child’s teacher as much as possible to make your child’s school experience beneficial for their learning.
Give it a try. Make communicating with your child’s teacher about ADHD part of your routine today, and see what benefits come of it over the next few weeks.
Additionally, if you want more resources for addressing different ADHD topics and your child, we here at FastBraiin want to help get you that information. Check out our resources page to find more articles on different topics including parenting preschoolers with ADHD, tips on helping your ADHD child learn, and handling homework with your ADHD child.