Parent-teacher cooperation key for children with ADHD

The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter recently published recommendations for parents of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Linda Ramer, language specialist, Elk Grove Unified School District, Sacramento, California, and Deborah Gordon, researcher and writer, report that parents can make the difference between academic success or failure for a child with ADHD.

Ramer has run a middle-school program for students with ADHD. While teachers want all their students to succeed, they need support from parents. These researchers report that when parents are proactive and meet with their child’s teacher early in the year to offer help, students experience greater success.

Parent and teachers supporting each other

When teachers perceive that parents are willing to be team players, most bend over backward to work with them. Parents should explain their child’s strengths and weaknesses and support the teacher’s efforts to help their child.

Ramer and Gordon suggest that parents keep the teacher informed of anything that may affect their child’s performance in school. Parents need to stay on top of their child’s progress. If the child is having trouble keeping up, discuss it with the teacher and ask how you can help. Ask about test dates and dates projects are due. Make sure homework is being done and that it gets to school.

Organization can be particularly difficult for children with ADHD, and parents need to work with their child to organize their school materials, to keep morning, after-school and bedtime routines as consistent as possible, and to list activities on a calendar. Rules and guidelines need to be made explicit. Maintaining a positive attitude with both the child and his teacher improves communication and outcomes.

Regular medical care is important if the child is on medication, and these researchers recommend that parents explore with the doctor whether counseling or behavior therapy is indicated. Children with ADHD don’t always exhibit appropriate behavior. They don’t always think first–they just react–and they don’t learn from their mistakes as quickly as other kids do. They may lack maturity and lag behind their classmates behaviorally and socially. Role-playing can be effective in helping them identify what to do in specific situations.

Ramer and Gordon recommend that parents stay in close communication with teachers and keep that communication positive. These researchers stress the need for early intervention because it is not easy to turn around a child who has shut down or who is turned off to school. When parents and teachers are working together, children soon understand that giving up or misbehaving is not an option.

When problems come up, work with the child’s teacher to develop a plan. A child needs to be rewarded or held accountable both at school and at home. This is a process that takes time and isn’t easy, but parents and teachers can support one another when they work together. Providing structure and consistency at school and at home increases appropriate behavior and academic achievement. Ramer and Gordon say that when parents stay closely involved with their child’s schooling in these ways, the child experiences significantly more success in school.

“ADHD: Ten Ideas for School Success” The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter Volume 18, Number 9, September 2002.

Published in ERN November 2002 Volume 15 Number 8

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