anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, coping skills, Mental Health, Parenting, pediatric mental health, self esteem in children, Uncategorized

Write his teacher a letter… A lesson I wish I learned sooner

writing_letter_12071260152646It was so well received, I knew I should have done it sooner…. Oh, well… We all live and learn.

Letting your child’s teacher know what to expect when you have a child with challenges like ADHD, Anxiety, learning disabilities, Depression, etc. can make such a difference in your child’s school year. Don’t hesitate to write a letter and tell your child’s teacher about your child’s strengths, challenges, and any other pertinent information that is important to help your child succeed.

All teachers want to help our children, that’s why they became teachers. What most parents don’t know is that teachers are given absolutely no resources about ADHD. Can you believe that? The environment where children spend the majority of their time is housed with educators that are never given the opportunity to learn about ADHD (~10% of kids), unless they find time outside of their work schedule to pursue further education on the topic. Not fair… not to the kids, not to the teachers, and not to the rest of the school population. It is up to us as parents to bring information about our child’s challenges to the school and the teachers. Don’t assume they know. If you want someone to have information about your child or their challenges, tell them directly, don’t assume the information gets shared.

I was taught very early on in my professional training that it is important NOT to label kids, so I certainly didn’t want to do it to my own child. In most of my professional situations this is an absolute, but as a parent of an ADHD child, I WAS WRONG! SO WRONG! If your child’s teacher doesn’t know his strengths and weaknesses, how can she help him grow. Yes, most good teachers figure it out, but why waste those months, there are only 9 to get the job done.

If you’ve read any of my posts about ADHD, you know that my son, Joshua has trouble sitting still and staying on task. I have found that talking to his teachers at the beginning of the school year helps Josh and his teachers be much better prepared. For years, it took the first 3-4 months for his teacher to “get to know him” all because I didn’t want to label him. You know, the whole “clean slate” philosophy. I think part of me was trying to test the teacher to see if she also thought that Joshua had ADHD. There was part of me that would doubt it on occasion, although professionally, I knew he was classic.

After writing or asking for a conference with your child’s teacher(s), there should be a plan. Joshua is given specific expectations, as all ADHD kids should. He is also given tools and accommodations to help him succeed, which all ADHD kids deserve. All of his teachers stay in frequent communication with Josh to help him stay on top of assignments that are due, projects that have deadlines coming up, homework that needs to be done, etc. Throughout elementary and most of middle school, Josh has succeeded with the help of some pretty great teachers. We chose private school during 3rd grade for Josh, and haven’t looked back since. I was a public school advocate for a long time, but that debacle is for another post.

If people do not understand how the neurological challenges alter kids behavior, it is crucial for the child’s educational and emotional well-being that they learn. I just read a post on ADDitude.org today with quotes from parents that “wish they knew…” There is always something more we wish we knew.

So, as you prepare for the school year, don’t forget to prep your child’s teacher. You don’t want months to go by this school year, and then have a conversation about what your teacher wished she had known in September. It’s as easy as writing a quick (and, sometimes, not so quick) email. ADDitude.org has a short article and sample letter with great ideas for accommodations, click here to check it out.

So, as you embark on another year of your child’s education, be sure to keep everyone on your journey informed. You’ll be glad you did. I promise! It will make your life easier and most of all make your child’s educational experience more rewarding and successful. Then, you can say, “I’m glad I wrote that letter!” instead of “I wish I had…”.  😉

As always, I hope you are Enjoying the Journey! 🙂 

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