How to Team Up with Parents: Tips from Teachers for Teachers
ADDitude recently asked educators how they resolve differences with parents and develop lasting partnerships. Here, we share their strategies for strengthening trust and improving collaboration with students’ caregivers.
If you’re a teacher, you know that approaching caregivers about a child’s ADHD-related learning or behavioral problems at school isn’t always straightforward. Parents may not understand the extent of their child’s challenges, and they may be reluctant to collaborate with you and the school.
ADDitude recently asked educators how they resolve differences with parents and develop lasting partnerships. Here, we share their strategies.
Teacher-Parent Communication Approaches
“To resolve differences with parents, first acknowledge their expertise on their child at home. Acknowledging them as ‘peers in expertise’ can help parents see school staff as the experts on their child at school. Parents often come to a meeting feeling defensive or apprehensive about the process, so helping them to feel like members of the team is crucial when crafting a plan of accommodations.”
“An educator needs to show parents real concern about their child. If you do, they will be more willing to collaborate.”
“Many parents are embarrassed and/or feel they’re being judged for having a kid who’s different. They need to hear that their child can have a successful, happy life by understanding how their brains work and finding ways to accommodate those differences.”
“I try to give parents a scientific understanding of ADHD and executive functioning to help them understand the bigger picture.”
“I am more than willing to try what parents suggest because they know their child best. At conferences, I’ve shared what I’ve tried that worked, and asked for parents’ input when things haven’t worked.”
“Parents can benefit from seeing their child in the classroom. They may see challenging behaviors that they were not aware of. Believing the teacher when we say that there is a problem is really important.”
“Most of my students’ parents are resistant to medications, which I can respect. However, most of them are also not pursuing any sort of behavior or treatment modifications to help their child with their struggles in school. I often share information about therapy, diet, supplements, how to approach organization, etc. Several parents have responded and become willing to try different things with their children once they know more about these options.”
“Outline the educational benefits of your proposals but be prepared to accept a compromise. Work toward short-, medium-, and long-term goals.”
“I like to tell parents how their child is interacting at school with peers and teachers. If a child always seems to be ‘in trouble,’ but the behavior is a manifestation of their ADHD, then it may be time to talk to the parent about how that may affect the child’s self-esteem. I let the parent bring up seeing a pediatrician or psychiatrist for an evaluation for ADHD. Then I let the discussion take its course.”
“Explaining the objective of an approach, and the evidence of its efficacy, is my go-to strategy. Plus, when I share that I’m an adult with ADHD, and the mother of a son with ADHD, parents become open to trying my suggestions. The most important part, though, is to truly listen to the parents and students. They have information from other settings that I don’t have. They know their kids in ways I’ll never be able to.”
Communication with Parents: Next Steps
- Free Class: The ADHD Learning Series for Educators
- Read: 11 Rules for a Better Parent-Teacher Partnership
- Read: How to Talk So Teachers Will Listen
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