For some odd reason I remember being introduced to the word communication while studying Janet and Mark in the first grade. (Harper & Row was the publisher…remember that too.) I was reintroduced to the word when my own child was in his first year of school. Although communication includes the principal, secretary, and even the lunch lady, the most important dialog is between parent and teacher.
Early in the school year, make contact with your teacher. As I stated in last month’s newsletter, “The first week of school, write the teacher a letter introducing your child, and briefly listing strengths and weaknesses. Share important information such as family situation and medical needs. Tell the teacher to look for your child’s 504 or IEP, and ask if there’s any way you can make it easier to implement. Finally, tell the teacher you would like to meet during the second month of school to strategize ways to work together for your child’s education.”
It doesn’t stop there, however! Communication with your ADHD child’s teacher never ends. We know all to well that our kids will forget, lose, or do the wrong assignments. They’ll space out during class, and blank out during tests. We have to fill in the gaps, while prodding our kids toward being self-sufficient. We need regular feedback from the teachers, but often they don’t initiate contact until it is too late.
In an attempt to solve this problem, before Ron was diagnosed, I initiated a weekly teacher contact sheet. I asked the teachers to give me Ron’s average to that point in the grading period and let me know of any missing assignments. I printed a chart (of course!) on brightly colored card-stock to reduce the chances of loss. If Ron didn’t have this on Friday, his weekend fun consisted of chores, meals, church, and his room.
The next year, our next two sons joined in the program, but their grades were recorded in their weekly planner. If they got in the car with incomplete planners, they had to go back into the school and have it done, a source of major embarrassment.
The popularity of email has made life easier on the boys. Each week, I send our teachers the following message:
~To this point in this grading period, Sonny has an average of:
~I have assigned Sonny the following tests/projects:
~Sonny is missing the following assignments:
~Sonny’s focus this week has been:
Since our son’s 504 requires the teachers to communicate with us, they appreciate the compliance reminder. The other boys’ teachers like being able to answer at their own convenience. Most teachers are happy to go along with our little plan. If they are reluctant, I tell them, “You’ll talk to me before there is a problem, or when there is a problem. But you’ll be in touch!” Said with a smile, this usually brings them around.
Let your teachers know that you recognize that in addition to ADHD, your child has bouts of normal irresponsibility and unconcern for grades. The challenge for you as parents will always be to figure out which is the culprit – the child, or the ADHD. Don’t allow your child to use ADHD as an excuse. Require her to do her best. Expect your child to do his fair share, and ask the teacher to let you know if your child is not pulling her weight.
Convince your teacher that you will help in any way you can. Children benefit from seeing teachers and parents as a team that can be counted on as a source of support, but also a force to be reckoned with. As communication grows, this bond between you and the teacher will strengthen. Together, you and the teacher can guide, lead, or prod your child to learn.
Our PAC-kit, is a great way to keep up with the back and forth communication to the school. A Planner, Agenda and Calendar designed especially for ADHD Inattentive kids, it is a wonderful tool for your family.