Parent-Teacher Cooperation

Is it Time for an Academic Checkup?

If your child has ADHD, don’t wait for the next parent-teacher conference to sit down with his teacher. Make sure he’s getting the most out of his classroom experience and keep his teacher in the loop with these 4 tips for a productive meeting.

A meeting to discuss accommodations with your teacher.

If you have not done so lately, it’s time to make another appointment with the teacher of your child with attention deficit disorder (ADHD). Don’t wait for a parent/teacher conference; not only are they infrequent, but the teacher’s attention is divided among 15 parents.

Once you schedule a meeting, make it productive by using these four strategies:

Have a specific, and brief, agenda.

Check on how your child is doing, in terms of classroom behavior, interest, and performance. Ask whether her academic performance is on grade level, on par with peers, and also whether it reflects your child’s potential. Remember: If your child is in a special-education program, she should still perform at grade level and be academically challenged, just not pressured.

Children with ADHD or a co-existing learning disability may find some of the requirements particularly difficult. If this is the case, a simple modification—using a computer in class to write assignments, for example —could significantly improve her grades.

If your child has an IEP, check his progress.

It isn’t necessary, or advisable, to wait for an “official” IEP review meeting. Verify that your child is receiving the special services he’s entitled to—don’t assume he’s getting them just because they’re included in the IEP or are part of a 504 Plan.

Ask the classroom teacher whether special services (speech and language, occupational therapy, counseling, resource room) coincide with lessons. If so, your child may fall behind in classroom work, creating more stress for him as he tries to make it up.

Remind the teacher of your child’s skills and weak areas.

Ask how she handles your child’s problem behavior, and offer appropriate suggestions based on your experience or the experience of other teachers who have worked with your child successfully. Tell the teacher that you know that your child may not be the perfect student, despite his/her superb teaching skills and classroom supervision. Reinforce the idea that you want to work with the teacher to help your child excel, that you consider yourself part of the team.

Above all, work with the teacher, and don’t take a combative approach. In most cases, teachers really do care. For the few who would rather be “right” than effective, the combative approach is worse. However, the teacher must know that you are monitoring the situation, and will not accept less than her full effort.

Stay in the loop.

Assure the teacher that you can provide support before your child falls further behind or gets into trouble. Sometimes teachers are reluctant to “bother” the parent when a child is having difficulty in class. This is not the best approach for a child with ADHD, who tends to get stuck in a pattern. Positive parental intervention, in tandem with a teacher’s efforts, is more effective for the student than in-school intervention alone.

This article was adapted with permission.