Dear ADDitude

Dear ADDitude: How Can I Communicate Better with the School?

“Can my daughter’s IEP include specific guidelines for communication between school and home? The school doesn’t talk to us about behavior problems until it’s too late, so there’s little we can do to help.”

ADDitude Answers

Yes, an IEP can include specific guidelines for communication. Request a meeting to modify the IEP to include this. Determine how often you want to receive reports on your child’s behavior before the meeting — a daily behavior chart or a weekly report? Or do you want to be notified only if there is a serious behavior problem? How often communication should occur can be spelled out in the IEP.

Many parents like to receive a daily or weekly e-mail. Some prefer a phone call. Think about what is best for your family, but consider the teacher’s schedule — some teachers set aside specific times of the day to take and receive phone calls.

Posted by Eileen Bailey
Freelance writer, author specializing in ADHD, anxiety, and autism

ADDitude Answers

One of the things many of the parents that I work with complain about is that they are having difficulty collaborating and communicating with the folks at school. Amazingly enough, one of the things the educators I work with complain about the most is that they’re having difficulty communicating and collaborating with the folks at home.

I think that the exact same three steps that can be applied to collaborating with kids can also be applied to adult collaboration.

1. Empathy: Gather information about and achieve a clear understanding of the school’s perspective on the unsolved problem you’re discussing.

2. Define the Problem: Enter the concern of the second party, in this case you and your spouse, into consideration.

3. Invitation: Brainstorm solutions that are realistic (meaning both parties can do what they are agreeing to) and mutually satisfactory (meaning the solution truly addresses the concerns of both parties).

Often parents and educators are making the same mistakes with each other that we sometimes make with our kids. We don’t figure out what each other’s concerns are. Instead, we just throw solutions at each other and then we are involved in what’s called “competing solutions” or what’s also known as a “power struggle.”

The same thing that goes on with kids, goes on between adults. Those same three ingredients can help everybody — parents and educators — see this student through the shared prism of lagging skills and unsolved problems. Making sure that everybody’s on the same page. That’s what helps parents and educators work better together.

Posted by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D.
Author of the well-known books The Explosive Child and Lost at School

A Reader Answers

Executive functioning is a large component of ADHD. The school and home need to have strong systems In place that compliment each other for the child to thrive. Many times a liason at school is a tremendous help. They check in with the teachers to ensure the child is up to date on their homework or behaving well, and then report to parents. This communication circle is a critical element.

You can’t expect a child to be successful if they do not have instruction. Your child should have a behavior class to teach her important life skills. One final note assisitve technology can be a life saver. Check out google docs!

Worksheets can be uploaded and emailed to teachers so the backpack that eats letters home is no longer an issue. You can create a daily report card the teacher can update in a flash. You have to think out of the box and encourage the school, most times the schools think the child is just being bad or lazy, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Best of luck!

Posted by Lgiven

A Reader Answers

A daily report card worked well for us to get frequent feedback from teachers. We ‘crafted’ our own agenda with only a few key behavioral issues we wanted to focus on at that time and kept it simple with smiley or sad faces.

When our son got 3 days with smiley faces in a week he got a reward. Usually something he chose at the beginning of the week so that he could look forward to. He of course got lots of praise from us and the teacher every good day.

When he had a bad day there was no punishment but constructive criticism with suggestions from us, the teacher, and our son on how do do it better next time.

The teacher kept us in the loop with comments in his agenda. It is additional work for the teacher but if he/she is on board generally it should work after a short adjustment phase. We did that for about two-thirds of the school year and phased it out for the rest. Then we all felt he was ready to do without and he was.

Posted by PMH

A Reader Answers

Accommodations can be widely varied, and include things like:

Extended time for testing in a small group setting

Organization aids and supports

Preferential seating/ low distraction work areas

Checklists for work completion

Stickers for positive behavior

Seat near positive role model

Seat out of main traffic areas

Provide short breaks between assignments

Give private, discrete cues to student to stay on task

Daily behavior communications

Set longer time expectations for assignments

Have homeroom teacher check planner

Only one or two step directions

Ask student to paraphrase context to check understanding

Repeat instructions about in-class and homework assignments

Check progress and provide feedback often in the first few minutes of each assignment

Highlight directions

You can definitely ask for regular updates on behavior as an accommodation in an IEP or 504 plan.

Posted by 20Beth14

A Reader Answers

I have a home-to-school communication folder as an unofficial accommodation.

I can put notes in it for the teacher, and the teacher can send feedback home to me. It comes to and from school like homework folders.

I also have my son’s teacher fill out an ADHD monitoring tool for me every 2-4 weeks, to make sure he stays on track with progress.

Posted by JS