IEP Step 2: Schedule a Teacher Meeting
Schedule a teacher meeting to understand your child’s struggles with ADHD at school, and to establish rapport that builds bridges. Here’s how to take the first steps toward better teacher collaboration.
Teachers will give you insights about your child that may provide clues to his specific challenges, as well as strategies to meet them. Call or e-mail to set up a time to talk to the teacher, with your child present. Tell the teacher your concerns, get the teacher’s perspective, and work together to find academic strategies to help your child. Make sure the discussion focuses on your child’s strengths as well.
1. Before the meeting, write down questions and gather materials.
2. Bring in some of your child’s homework assignments and tests, especially those that document his specific struggles.
3. Keep track of how long it takes your child to do homework each evening.
4. Ask the teacher questions about academics, but also about your child’s behaviors that interfere with or affect his ability to learn.
5. Work with the teacher to devise strategies to help manage your child’s academic challenges and metrics to measure his or her progress. You might ask whether homework was handed in each day, and about test results, upcoming assignments, or how attentive your child is in class.
Teachers can provide valuable information about academics, classroom behavior, and social skills. ADHD doesn’t affect intelligence. If your child has attention deficit and is struggling academically, it is probably an indirect result of ADHD traits. ADHD may affect your child in the following ways:
1. POOR ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS: Your child might have trouble keeping materials organized or keeping track of books, pencils, or other school materials. He might have trouble planning projects or large assignments.
2. HOMEWORK CHALLENGES: For many children with ADHD, homework is an everyday nightmare. It takes several hours to complete assignments that non-ADHD children complete in 15 or 30 minutes because of the inability to stay focused. Your child might forget what the assignment is, or forget to bring home the books or materials needed to complete the homework. After spending hours doing homework, he might forget to hand it in or lose it somewhere between home and the classroom.
3. INCONSISTENCY: Your child might perform well one day and be totally off the following day. Inconsistency is a hallmark of ADHD and is confusing for many parents. You wonder why your child can sit down and do his homework quickly one night and spend four hours on it the following night. You think your child is deliberately misbehaving. This inconsistency is common in children with ADHD.
4. DISTRACTIBILITY: Lack of focus is a common symptom of ADHD. It means your child has a hard time focusing on tasks for extended periods, unless they are high-interest activities.
5. TROUBLE SITTING STILL: Not all children with ADHD show signs of hyperactivity. However, those who do can’t sit still. They need to get up and walk around, or are constantly fidgeting. Children with ADHD often get up at inappropriate times during class, or they seem squirmy all of the time.
Come out of this meeting with specifics for communicating with each other. You and your child’s teacher are partners in your child’s education and need to exchange information on a regular basis. Together you can decide which method is best. Some parents prefer a phone call once a week. However, if you choose to call, you won’t have a record of what was said. You might find that e-mails work best.
By the end of the meeting, you and the teacher should be clear on how you will communicate, how often communication will occur, and your child’s behaviors and challenges that need to be addressed.