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Your Recipe for a Successful School Year

Start with an early visit to school, add a discussion with the teacher, finish up with regular check-ins and voilà.

The new school year is upon us, and you want your child with ADHD to be happy and successful in school. You advocate for your child, but you can’t engineer your child’s success alone. You need to enlist your child’s school to team up with you. Here are some winning strategies to accomplish that:

Visit the School Early On

Talk with the principal and ask to come in the day before school starts. Introduce yourself and your child to your child’s teacher. Give your teacher a brief summary of your child’s diagnosis and general needs. There is no need for surprises on the first day of school. If your teacher can anticipate your child’s needs and implement one or two strategies that you’ve shared, this will put everyone at ease, especially your child.

A short visit before school starts gives your child the opportunity to see where he will stand on the playground, which door he will be using to enter the school, and the path that he will take to get to his classroom. If possible, walk your child into the classroom. This will put him at ease and make the first day of school no big deal.

Use a Cheat Sheet

Ask for your child’s teacher’s e-mail address, and send along a cheat sheet. Include information about likes, dislikes, preferences, and strategies you use at home. Mention any strategies that other teachers used that were effective. Your child’s teacher is trying to learn about 20 something other students in her class, so make this easy for your teacher, for you and your child.

If you have an IEP or 504 Plan, review it with your child’s teacher and emphasize your child’s key areas of strength and weakness. You may say, “My child is a great out-of-the-box thinker and learns best by using all of his senses. So, if you are working on math concepts, you may want to give my child some manipulatives to teach the lesson in a visual way.”

Schedule Regular Check-Ins

Schedule a 30-minute meeting with your child’s teacher every three or four weeks to review strategies, accommodations, academics, and social and emotional behaviors. Identify three or four areas that you want feedback on regularly. Suggest new strategies or find out which strategies your teacher is using, so that you can also use them at home. Having consistency and continuity between home and school it easy for your child as well.

Talking about shared strategies holds your teacher accountable to use ones that you’ve discussed instead of her trying something for a few days and dropping it. If you are using a behavior plan, ask your teacher to show you copies of your child’s behavior chart so you can look at trends over time.

For example, does your child struggle on Monday mornings? Does your child have difficulty after a long break? Is your child spent by the end of the day? When you have answers to these questions, you can create accommodations to help your child be successful.

Here’s to a great school year!