Helping Your Child Prepare for a New Teacher
As children with ADHD prepare to start a new school year, many students and their parents may be nervous about meeting a new teacher. Parents might wonder:
- Will she understand ADHD?
- Will he be willing to work with you, as parents, to find ways for your child to succeed?
- What are her approaches to making the classroom ADHD-friendly?
- Will he follow accommodations in the IEP/Section 504 or is it going to be a struggle?
Your child may simply wonder if the teacher is going to like him. Depending on your child’s previous schooling, he may have had experiences with teachers who didn’t understand ADHD or thought he was using it as an excuse for not trying. He may be nervous because a new teacher means new rules and a new way of doing things. He may be afraid of being “bad” even when he is trying to be good.
The following tips should help you to relieve some of your child’s anxiety about the upcoming school year and meeting a new teacher.
Talk to parents of older children. Who had this teacher? What was he or she like? Did their children have good experiences in her classroom? Share some of the positive stories you hear with your child.
Look on the school website for pictures of the new teacher. Knowing what he or she looks like may help your child feel more comfortable when walking into the classroom the first day of school.
Contact the school and set up a meeting with the teacher a few days before school starts. Most teachers start back to school one or two weeks before students begin. This gives the teacher time to set up the classroom and work on their curriculum. You can ask for a short meeting so your child can meet the teacher before the first day of school and without the distraction of having all the other children in the classroom.
Take advantage of any orientations or open houses before the school year starts. Some schools hold orientations, especially before transitional years, such as entering middle school or high school. If your school is having any orientation, have your child attend to not only meet the teacher but become familiar with the school.
Talk positively about the new teacher. Even if you don’t know your child’s new teacher, use statements such as “I am sure Mrs. Kipper will appreciate what a hard worker you are.” This helps to give your child a positive image of the teacher.
Reassure your child that it is natural to feel nervous about meeting a new teacher. Listen to his concerns or apprehensions without being critical or dismissing his concerns as irrelevant. Share stories about how you were nervous before starting a new school year and recount experiences to show it all worked out in the end.
Use methods to help your child look forward to their first day of school. Use a “countdown” calendar, go shopping for supplies and talk about how much fun the new school year will be. Keep a positive attitude about the upcoming school year and the new teacher.
Spending a few weeks at the end of the summer helping your child prepare for the new year, and a new teacher, can help him feel more relaxed on the first day of school. Keeping a positive attitude will help your child see their teacher as their ally and friend.
More Back to School Information:
The above tips are based on personal experience as well as through conversations with other parents of young children with ADHD.