When your child has ADHD it is important to keep up with his progress at school. When you ask about his day, your child might routinely say, “It was good,” or “I don’t remember.” Instead of waiting for report cards, use these ideas to monitor your child’s progress.
Volunteer to help in the classroom, sign up to attend field trips, or to supervise a classroom party. These are great opportunities to see firsthand how your child behaves, socializes with other children, and follows instructions. You don’t need to set aside a full day. Let the teacher know you only have an hour but would like to help.
Develop a relationship with the teacher
Keep in mind that teachers have the same goal that you do — to help your child succeed. Attend back-to-school night and other classroom and school functions where you can talk informally with the teacher and build a relationship based on mutual respect.
Set up a meeting with the teacher early in the school year
Are practice tests given? Are they sent home before the test?
How is progress monitored?
Request monthly grade reports
To make there are no surprises on the report card, ask for a monthly grade report. This gives you time to address any potential problems before they negatively affect your child’s grades.
Use daily or weekly report cards
Request the teacher send home a daily or weekly rating on one or two behavioral or academic target areas. You can use this to improve specific skills, such as using an appropriate tone of voice, raising your hand before speaking, and participating in class discussions. Decide beforehand what the specific goals are and create a reward system for reaching those goals.
Inspect your child’s backpack
Look at homework assignments, test grades, and pay attention to completed class work. Notice if worksheets are completely filled out or if there are blank spaces in order to get an idea if your child is struggling in specific areas. Be prepared by asking the teacher if there are specific days she sends home tests or other pertinent information.
Talk to other parents
Keep apprised of what it going on in the school community. If possible, join the PTA so you can network with other parents.
Observe your child outside of the classroom
Watch how your child interacts with other children at the playground, follows instructions at the library, and how he expresses himself. Pay attention to reading and math skills when at a restaurant or the grocery store. Use these observations to alert the teacher to any potential problems.
Ask your child about school every day
Ask open-ended questions such as “What was your favorite part of the day?” Begin discussions by asking “Tell me about what you did during recess.” Ask in a nonthreatening and conversational tone, to show your child that you are interested in his school day.
Find out present levels of performance
You can’t determine if your child is making progress unless you know his current level. Ask specifically what his reading and math grade levels are. Use this as a baseline to determine his level of progress throughout the school year.
Create a binder of schoolwork
Use a binder to collect test papers, quizzes, homework assignments, progress reports, report cards, and notes from the teacher. After several weeks or months, this information will give you an overall look at your child’s progress.
When you don’t see any progress
Request a comprehensive evaluation to determine if your child has learning disabilities in addition to ADHD. An evaluation should include: IQ tests, achievement tests, curriculum-based assessments, state assessments, interviews with parents and teachers, observational data, and a review of school records.
Request an IEP or Section 504 meeting
If your child has an IEP or 504 and you aren’t seeing adequate progress, request a meeting to review accommodations and revise, if necessary. Make sure to include specific ways to measure progress, such as present level of performance, measurable goals, instruction methods, and how progress will be monitored, including using benchmarks throughout the school year.
When in doubt, ask
If you are concerned about a potential problem, don’t be afraid to speak up and talk with your child’s teacher. It is much better to ask and be told if there are no issues rather than to not ask and find out later that your child is falling behind academically.