How to Teach Children With ADHD
How to Work With Your ADHD Child's Teacher
Children with ADHD want to learn just like any other children, but school can be a challenge because of difficulties sitting still, focusing, and listening. You can increase your child’s chances of success in school by working with and supporting your child’s teacher, whether your son or daughter is mainstreamed or in classes for special education students.
Here’s how to best work with your child’s teacher on your child’s behalf:
- Plan ahead.Ask to meet before the school year starts. Discuss how you can contribute to your child’s success in school. Talk about your goals for your child and how they might be reached. Write down these goals so you both have a record. You and your child’s teacher should work out a school behavior plan for your child and agree that each of you will follow it closely. The plan can include strategies for discouraging disruptive behavior and a system for rewarding successful behavior. It should be flexible, though, so that if changes need to be made, they can be.
- Request special services.Speak with the school’s guidance counselors about getting your child tutoring or counseling while in school. Some children who have been diagnosed with ADHD may qualify for special education services. If your child qualifies, the school must design an Individual Education Program (IEP) for him. Help the school develop your child’s IEP by providing as much information as you can about his strengths and weaknesses. Also, set up a schedule to review the IEP regularly throughout the school year.
- Load teachers with information.Make sure the teacher is aware of any ADHD medications your child takes and any treatments, such as behavior therapy, your child is undergoing. Describe your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and describe specifically how ADHD affects your child’s behavior. Tell the teacher what you have found to work best for your child, such as what rewards she likes and what motivates her good behavior. Encourage your child’s teachers to be open with you as well, even if what they have to say is hard to hear.
- Determine how you will stay in close contact.Some teachers prefer email, says Sharon Murphy, MEd, education director for The Glenholme School in Washington, Conn., a boarding school for students with emotional, behavioral, and attention deficit disorders. Others will write in a homework book that they send home with your child each night. “A lot depends on the age of the child,” Murphy says. “No high school kid will take a communication book back and forth.” Do whatever works best for you, your child, and the teachers. Says Murphy, “Constant communication is important, whether spoken or written. A lot of teachers will email or share their mobile numbers with you.” Let the teacher know you’re interested in upcoming assignments and long-term projects so you can plan and work accordingly with your child.
- Don’t miss meetings.Even in our age of technology, you should meet face- to-face with your child’s teacher regularly. The classroom is the ideal setting because you get a better understanding of the learning environment. Agree on a time that is mutually convenient. Try never to miss a meeting. Granted things can come up, but show your commitment by not having to constantly reschedule.
- Don’t hold grudges.“It helps if you go into the new school year with the attitude that you can work together and make this work,” Murphy says. “Believe that everyone is going to do his best from the get-go. Don’t assume just because the teacher your child had last year gave you some difficulty, this one will too.” As the parent of a child with ADHD, it’s important to be positive and see the good in situations rather than dwell on problems and small issues.
- Provide homework support.Promise to supervise — but not do — your child’s homework. Help your child by establishing a homework routine, Murphy says. Find out what the assignments are from her homework folder or the school Web site. Set a specific time, such as before dinner, and place for your child to do her homework. Make sure her homework space is free of clutter and away from pets, the television, and other distractions. Put completed assignments in a specific place so your child will remember to take them back to school in the morning.
You are your child’s best advocate. If you’re closely involved in your child’s learning, your child’s teachers will want to help too. Keep communications open and share information. Together you can help your child succeed in school.
Video: How to Manage Your Child's ADHD | Children's National Health System
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