Meet-the-teachers night. Parent-teacher conferences. Semi-annual report cards. Schools provide occasional opportunities for teachers and parents to communicate. But if your child has attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) or learning difficulties like dyslexia, you should be in touch on a more frequent basis to discuss, hammer out and fine tune the best ADHD accommodations:
- Write to the teacher before school starts. In addition to creating a personal connection, this will allow you to present your child as an individual with likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses — not just a student with ADHD.
Identify his ADHD subtype — inattentive, hyperactive, or combined — and explain how it affects his behavior and learning style. Provide information about his treatment plan, and list classroom strategies that have helped. Encourage your child to write a letter, too, explaining what it's like for him to have ADHD and how he learns best. (See samples, below.)
- Plan a parent-teacher conference early in the school year. Use this time to share information and to learn how the class is run. Inquire about classroom rules and discipline, parent-teacher communication, and how the day might be structured.
If you're afraid your child's learning or behavioral needs won't be met, suggest specific measures that might help. If you need more frequent communication with the teacher, set up a schedule. This is also the time to assess the teacher's level of knowledge about ADHD, and to offer information.
- Keep in touch with the special education team. The same goes for others who interact with your child — tutors, sports coaches, leaders of after-school clubs, and so on. Whether by e-mail, voicemail, or actual conversation, suggest strategies and solicit their ideas.
Keep these conversations going throughout the school year — and keep your child involved. Doing so will teach him to be his own advocate, a skill he'll need soon enough.