Stay in Touch with Teachers — and Keep Ahead of Trouble

For a school year without surprises, start with open communication with your child’s teachers.
Success at School | posted by Lisa Aro

Over the years, I’ve learned that communication is key to a successful school year. Establishing it from the beginning is a great way to avoid problems.

— Lisa Aro

Back-to-school displays in stores, ads in newspapers and on TV, and my children’s eagerness to get brand-new school supplies are all reminders that another school year is on its way. My mind has started making the transition and preparations for my ADHDers to head back to school.

It seems like only yesterday that I walked my daughter up to meet her fourth-grade teacher on the first day of school. New to ADHD and learning disabilities, I let it all pour out as I shook his hand. “This is Mary, she has ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. She writes like she reads like she talks. It’s all garbled and barely intelligible. When she runs she leans farther and farther forward until she face-plants.” He was shell-shocked. “Oh, and she only sees out of one eye.” I released his hand and disappeared into the throng of parents and kids.

It wasn’t one of my better parent/teacher communication moments. Over the years, I’ve learned that communication is key to a successful school year. Establishing it from the beginning is a great way to avoid problems.

Start Early

Setting a time to meet early in the year allows me the opportunity to share information and establish a good working relationship. Making sure teachers know about my child’s ADHD and other co-occurring conditions, like anxiety, depression, insomnia, and learning disabilities, is important. That face-to-face meeting helps me find out how much they know about these disorders. More than once, I’ve given information to teachers who are eager to learn about and understand ADHD, so they can better help my child.

Be Upfront and Honest

No one knows my kids better than I do. I try to tell it straight about behaviors I know are going to be troublesome, and I share tips that have worked in the past. In the classroom, it’s easy for the good in our kids to get lost in their struggles. Sharing their strengths, hobbies, and talents helps our teachers see the brilliance I see.

Stay in Touch

Teachers have lots of students to look after, so I make it as easy as possible to stay in touch and on top of problems. I write down the teachers’ contact information and ask them about their preferred form of communication. And I do stay in touch. Talking regularly can prevent problems from snowballing. It’s a matter of self-preservation. I don’t want that call right before the semester ends letting me know my child has weeks of homework to catch up on and only days to do it.

Mary is a senior this year. We’ve both come a long way from that first day in fourth grade. Working together with our teachers has made all the difference in making each school year successful.

 
 
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