How to Talk to Teachers about my Kid’s ADHD

(4 min read)

We all want what’s best for our kids. When we see kids struggle in school we want to help. Building a strong partnership with the teachers allows you to share (and receive) information about your kid and their ADHD. Parents, guardians, and teachers must work together to create a learning environment that supports the needs of the ADHD student. Here are four simple steps to building this partnership.

Be factual. What information about your kid do you want the teacher to know?

Respect the teacher’s knowledge, experience, and management of the classroom.

Ask for accommodations and support that you think your kid needs.

Discuss ideas back and forth until you find solutions that meet everyone’s needs.

Simple Steps to Start the Dialogue with Teachers

Here is one example of how to talk to a teacher about your kid who likes to move around a lot, even when they are at school.

Here is an example of a how to talk to a teacher about your kid being distracted in class.

Now that we have seen two examples let’s work through the steps.

Give Teachers the Facts about How your Kids Learns Best

You know your kid best. Every day you see your kid navigate tasks like listening to directions (yours) and getting their backpack organized (or not) for school. You have read books with them and helped with homework. All of these experiences have given you a wealth of knowledge about how your kid prefers to learn and work and in what areas they struggle.

In order to keep emotions to a minimum, write down a list of what you want the teacher to know about your child that affects them at school. You can always edit the list before you share it with the teacher. A list might like something like this.

  • Likes to read written instructions but the text cannot be crowded or it’s overwhelming to read
  • Easily tunes out verbal instructions
  • Prefers to type instead of write homework
  • Need extra time to work through math problems – timed assignments and tests only make them rush and make mistakes

Once you have your list prepared and ready to show the teacher you can send it in an email. If you prefer in-person meetings you can request that too but sending the list in advance via email gives the teacher time to think about all the points you made.

Show the Teacher that you Respect their Input

I am not a teacher and I have no idea how to be one. So I’m not going to pretend or overstep my bounds. I have a lot of information about my kid that I think is pertinent to their school day but I am not the person who manages the classroom. Therefore I think it’s important to be mindful that while we want our parent/guardian/caretaker voices to be heard we need to also engage the knowledge and experience of the teacher.

Teachers will know what is feasible to work into your kid’s classroom routine and what might be cumbersome (for them or the student). Teachers have probably helped a lot of students with learning differences and know what learning strategies have been successful.

In your emails and conversations with the teachers finds ways to acknowledge that you respect their job and are looking for their insights. It could sound something like, “I would appreciate your insights on how we can help Sarah stay focused during writing assignments.”

How to Ask for the Classroom Support you Think your Kid Needs

Once you have shared your insights about your kid with the teacher and enlisted the teacher’s help now it’s time to ASK for specific types of support.

In the first example of this post the student mentioned likes to move around a lot. This student has a lot of energy and seeks sensory inputs by bouncing, walking around, and rocking in their chair. They might get so focused on how they are going to move that they forget to pay attention to the lesson.

The ask: How do we incorporate movement into his day?

We do not want the kid to feel stifled and pretend that they don’t NEED to move. We want to BLEND the need for movement with the requirements of the lessons and assignments.

  • Can the student have flexible seating like a bouncy chair, stretchy band across the chair legs, or a standing desk?
  • Can the student be given small tasks like walking a paper to the office in between lessons?

Ask for whatever ideas that you have brainstormed on your own!

In the next step you will combine your ideas with the teacher’s ideas and then sift through them to find the strategies worth trying.

How to Discuss Ideas back and Forth and Hone in on a Solution

If science and math have taught me anything it’s that going back and forth (iterating) to find a solution is usually part of the process. Often we don’t get from our first idea to the goal in one easy step. We troubleshoot.

The conversation between you and the teacher is no different. Both of you will have ideas. Some might be agreed upon right away and others maybe not. By keeping an open mind and analyzing each strategy you will keep the conversation moving forward.

The initial email exchange or in-person meeting with the teacher should result in at least one classroom accommodation or support to try. You can both agree that the teacher will try the new idea for some length of time, 4 weeks for example, and then give you feedback. The teacher can share with you whether the strategy has been effective or not. The teacher might have a new suggestion or you might too. Maintain open dialogue and keep troubleshooting.

Effective communication between teachers and parents/guardians/caregivers is crucial to student success.

Please leave a comment below with your own stories of how you’ve partnered with your kid’s teachers!

Download a Free Printable with examples of how to start these discussion and worksheets so you can make notes of your own.

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