July ends today, meaning schools will be opening all over the nation from August 3rd through September 8th (Suffolk Public Schools will open September 8th). This also signals the time for parents to have conversations with a host of people who are essential to their children having successful school years.
ADDitudemag.com provides a list of the variety of people parents should address. Their suggestions are beneficial for children with ADHD as well as those without.
Perhaps the most important discussion that parents of a child with ADHD can have is with that child. This is so vital as children with ADHD often suffer with low self-esteem. By addressing the positives of ADHD in constructive ways, you can assist your child in beginning the school year in a better frame of mind. Statements like “you have a turbo-charged brain, meaning you have zillions of great ideas, a fantastic imagination and will have fun your entire life. However, like a race care, you also need to know how and when to apply the brakes.”
Help your child identify classmates she can befriend. Early in the school year (preferably the first two weeks), sit down and talk with her about her classmates. Listen for clues about personalities that may complement hers. Ask her what after-school activities she is interested in as she has a better chance of making friends with children who have similar interests.
Talk with your child’s teacher either the week before school starts or the first week of school. Discuss your child’s strengths and weaknesses with his teacher without trying to crowd the teacher. Share discipline strategies that have worked in the past; create a mental picture of your child so the teacher gains a well-rounded view of him. If there is an IEP or 504 plan in place for your child, ensure the teacher is aware of it.
Talk to your child about her teacher. Sometimes children claim a dislike of a teacher as an excuse to not perform. Ask your child to name something she likes about the teacher – you may have to assist her with some ideas, such as the kind of car, music, books, etc. her teacher likes.
If your child is on medication, talk to his prescribing doctor late in the summer to formulate a school plan. If this is the first time he will be on medication, schedule the appointment as soon as possible so the dosage can be fine-tuned prior to the opening of school. Make sure your child has coverage through his most difficult classes.
About a month into the school year, have a second meeting with the teacher to determine how your child is performing. If your child is on medication, ask if she has noticed any side effects, or if there is a particular time when her ADHD symptoms are not being well-managed. Calling or emailing may be the easiest methods to keep communication flowing throughout the year.
After your follow-up meeting with the teacher, check in again with your child’s prescribing doctor. Feedback from your child, his teacher and you should be discussed to determine if the current medication protocol is the best for your child. Be sure to discuss any side effects that have been noticed to determine if changes need to be made.
Whether or not you share your child’s condition with other parents is certainly up to you, however, there are some benefits of doing so. First, your sharing invites others to share, possibly giving helpful tips about meeting your child’s needs. Second, it models good social skills for your child. Last, but definitely not least, your willingness to speak openly about ADHD shows your child that it is not something about which to be ashamed.
Talk to your spouse/partner and review things you’ve learned about your child over the past year. Has her personality changed? What helped her succeed? Do the two of you agree in areas such as discipline, school goals and extra-curricular activities? Should revisions be made?
Remind yourself that the new school year may bring new challenges – trust yourself to make the decisions that will be most beneficial to your child.