Parent-Teacher Cooperation

How to Talk to Teachers About Your Child’s ADHD: Scripts and Tips

“Teaching a class full of students is hard work. Just as parents do, teachers want to help their students succeed.”

If he applied himself, he’d be at the top of his class.”

“She will lose recess until she learns to listen in class.”

Parents get frustrated or angry, understandably, when teachers make comments like these about their child. Most teachers mean well, believing they’re sharing important observations and interventions. But because few teachers have received specific training in ADHD and executive function skill development, these remarks seldom improve the situation. So how should parents respond?

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1. Avoid shaming or dismissing the teacher.

Instead, teach them about the social and emotional impact of ADHD, and how the condition’s executive functioning challenges affect learning, motivation, and behavior.

2. Lend a helping hand.

Provide the teacher with resources and information about ADHD, such as articles or books, to help them better understand your child’s needs. (Why not encourage your child’s teachers to sign up for ADDitude’s ADHD Learning Series for Educators?)

3. Prepare scripts for easier parent-teacher meetings.

You might say: “Mrs. Smith, I understand that it can be frustrating when Sammy does not follow directions and disrupts class. We have learned that, sometimes, children who have ADHD have a harder time staying focused and managing their frustration. May I share some of what I have learned with you?”

Another conversation might go like this: “Mr. Johnson, you might think Sara is not trying, but I assure you she is. Sometimes the instruction and the work go faster than she can manage — and she shuts down. This seems to be common with children who have ADHD.”

[Read: How to Get the Teacher On Your Side]

I have found that teachers are grateful for any new strategies to help their students. Let’s not forget: Teaching a class full of students is hard work. Just as parents do, teachers want to help their students succeed.

How to Talk to Teachers About ADHD: Next Steps

Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M, ADHD-CCSP, is a mental health counselor and teacher trainer.

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