Talking to Your Child's Teacher
If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, chances are, at some point, you will need to sit down with his or her teacher and talk about challenges in the classroom. While both parents and teachers usually have the same goal—to help your child succeed—these meetings can be fraught with emotion. As a parent, you might feel intimidated, especially if the teacher has requested a meeting because of problems in school. Start to develop a relationship with your child’s teacher early in the school year; beginning one during a time of conflict is more difficult.
The following are 7 tips to help parents talk with their child’s teacher and create a working relationship:
Set up a meeting when both parties have uninterrupted time to talk. Setting up a meeting during the school day is not always best. Teachers have a great deal to do during the school day and are usually busy, even when the children are not in the classroom. Try to set up meetings either early, before school begins, or in the afternoon after the children have gone home for the day. This way, both you and the teacher can focus on the meeting.
Believe in the teacher’s ability. Although this may sound obvious, it is easy to enter into a meeting believing the teacher is wrong and your child is in the right. Take a deep breath and remember the teacher knows what he or she is doing and has your child’s best interests in mind.
Don’t wait for a parent teacher conference if you have concerns. If you believe a situation needs to be addressed, contact the teacher to set up a meeting. Most teachers would prefer to address situations as soon as possible, rather than waiting until a problem escalates. You may want to send a note or email outlining your concern and some of your questions and request a meeting. This gives the teacher time to prepare for the meeting and gather any important papers to share with you.
Set up a method for future communication. At your initial meeting with the teacher, discuss follow-up communication. Would the teacher be most comfortable communicating through email, phone calls or notes via the student? By addressing follow-up communication, both the frequency and the method, you eliminate possible misunderstandings in the future and benefit your child by having both you and the teacher monitor progress.
Remember, the teacher is your partner. Treat the teacher with respect and you will probably receive respect in return. If you hear something good about the teacher from your child, send a note expressing your appreciation of their efforts with your child. If you have a concern, talk directly to the teacher rather than rushing to complain to the principal.
Provide the teacher with information about your child. Your child’s teacher spends a great deal of time each day with your child and by the end of the school year knows your child—both strengths and weaknesses—well. However, you are the parent and can share additional information to help the teacher build a better relationship with your child.
Contact the teacher if there is a problem at home. If a situation arises at home (for example, divorce, death, illness) that may impact your child’s behavior or school performance, contact the teacher and let him or her know what is going on. This information can help the teacher address the situation if need be or may help the teacher de-escalate a possible melt-down at school.
Developing a clear and professional relationship with your child’s teacher is in the best interest of your child. Developing a partnership, where both you and the teacher work together to help create a successful learning environment for your child is always best.
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