Parent-Teacher Cooperation

Your Most Important Back-to-School List: 10 Conversations Every Parent Should Have

If your child arrives at school without brand new sneakers, she will survive. If she shows up feeling overwhelmed or doubting herself, however, the academic and emotional impact may last for months. How to start off on the right foot by initiating important conversations with your child, her teacher, her doctor, other loved ones — and yourself.

A mother and daughter having a frank discussion about the benefits of adhd, a must on your back-to-school list.
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Talk with Your Child About the Upside of ADHD

If you child has ADHD, she may have low self-esteem. Before the school year starts, make a list of back-to-school conversations to have with your child. State the positives of ADHD by framing it constructively. Use phrases like, “You have a turbo-charged brain, meaning you have tons of great ideas and will have fun your whole life. But like a racecar, you need to know how to put on the brakes.”

A child playing with her friends, which should be a topic of discussion on any back-to-school list.
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Ask Your Child About His Friends

Your child with ADHD may need help identifying classmates he can befriend. Early on, sit down and talk about his new classmates. Listen for clues about personalities that might complement his own. Ask him what after-school activities he is interested in. He has a better chance of making friends with a child who has similar interests.

Helping your child appreciate his teacher, this child here, is a staple of back-to-school lists.
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Help Your Child Appreciate His Teacher

Children can some times use dislike for the teacher as an excuse to stop trying. Engage your child to find something to appreciate about her teacher, especially if he thinks that teachers are the enemy. This could be as simple as appreciating a teacher’s taste in music or movies, or the car he drives.

A student scheduling a meeting between her parents and her teacher via a note, a must on the back-to-school list.
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Talk with the Teacher

Talk with her teacher during the first week of school. Without being pushy, clarify your child’s challenges and strengths. Tell the teacher about discipline strategies that have worked in the past, and let him know about your child’s interests — create an album of photos and anecdotes so he gets a well-rounded view of her. If you have an IEP or 504 Plan in place, make sure her teacher knows about it.

A parent following up on the teachers after their first meeting, a good tip for your back-to-school list.
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Follow-Up with Your Child's Teacher

Schedule a second meeting with your child’s teacher a month into school. If your child is on medication, ask the teacher if she notices any side effects, or if there are times when his ADHD symptoms are not well managed. You may need to adjust his medication. Keep the lines of communication open through the school year. Calling or emailing is probably easier than doing a face-to-face meeting.

A doctor examines a child before school starts, a key part of your back-to-school list.
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Talk With Your Child's Doctor

If your child is on medication, talk to the prescribing doctor in late summer and make a plan for school. If this is the first time your child will be taking medication, schedule this appointment several weeks earlier, so you can fine-tune the dose and timing before school begins. Make sure your child has coverage during his most challenging classes.

A student undergoes a checkup with her doctor after school starts, another good item to have on your back-to-school list.
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Check-In with Your Child's Doctor

A few weeks after school begins, have a follow-up conversation with your child’s prescribing doctor. Use the feedback from your child and her teacher, and your own observations, to decide if the current course of medication is right. Discuss any side effects you’ve noticed and how effective the treatment plan is throughout the day.

A group of parents connecting, which is a must have on your back-to-school list.
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Connect with Other Parents

It’s your decision to share your child’s condition with other parents. If you do talk, there are benefits.

  • Sharing invites parents to share — you might pick up tips about meeting your child’s needs.
  • You model good social skills to your child
  • Speaking openly about ADHD will make him proud of the condition.
A family having a frank adhd discussion, a good idea to include on your back-to-school list.
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Discuss ADHD as a Family

ADHD affects your family dynamics. Have your child describe what ADHD feels like, and explain how the family can support her. If you have children that don't have ADHD, let them share their perspective as well. Encourage each family member to talk about his or her challenges and the kind of support he or she needs.

Parents discussing their child's progress over the summer, a good tip for your back-to-school list.
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Talk to Your Partner

Sit down to review what you’ve learned about your child in the last year. What helped him succeed? Has his personality changed? Are you both on the same page when it comes to discipline, goals in school, extracurricular activities? Maybe an old idea needs revision. You may face some new challenges this year, but trust yourself to make the right decisions.