The mere mention of school when it comes to having a child living with ADHD may make you cringe. It is a necessary evil in some cases and something that we all must find a way to make work.
Unfortunately, unless you can home-school your child then a mainstream school is generally the only option that we have.
However, it doesn’t all have to be bad! There are ways that we can make sure a relatively painless experience. Well, as painless as it can get with ADHD and no funding!
From my own experiences with our school along with what I hear from other parents, communication is the key.
We are not without our own challenges when it comes to school and we have tried or approached other schools to see if they were any better, but they haven’t worked out either. One school agreed to a trial but we only lasted 3 hours! Gee, they didn’t even give him a go.
We are still with the school we started with and have a wonderful relationship with them and that has come purely from communication and understanding.
Here are 5 ways that I suggest to make your school encounters easier:
Yes, I may be harping on about communication too much, but let me tell you it really is the key here. There really is no point in complaining about something the teacher or the school are doing wrong if you haven’t spoken to them about it. How can they fix it if they don’t know it is wrong in the first place? It is just like someone complaining to someone else about something you are doing wrong, but you have no idea that you are.
Keep in contact with the teacher. Call them, email them, make an appointment or turn up to the classroom every once in a while. Anything you need to get in their face and be known that you are interested. Teachers see many parents throughout the year and I am sure some parents who have the attitude that it is their problem, so making sure you let the teacher know you are working with them not against them will go far.
Helping at the school, if you can (even if you have to use an annual leave day) will help you build this relationship with the staff at the school as well.
- Be Honest
Be 100% honest with the school and the teachers. If you don’t tell them that your child has ADHD but then you expect them to make allowances for your child due to his/her ADHD then how is that going to work? Talk to them about upcoming appointments with specialists and ask if there is anything that they would like to bring up to them.
ADHD aside, be honest about any changes in the house. We know that even the slightest thing can send our kids off the rails, so it is important that we keep the teachers up to date with this as well. Sometimes even having a family member like mum or dad going away can affect our children as it generally affects the routine, so these are things our teachers need to be mindful of.
- Understand where the school is coming from
All schools have policies and procedures that they must follow. Ultimately, they must keep all children in their care safe, including your child. Having a child throwing things around the classroom or acting out on other children is a threat to the safety of students and they must address this. Rather than getting angry at the school for excluding your child in this circumstance, try and understand where they are coming from and work with your child and the teacher to find out what triggered that behaviour in the first place.
Teachers have a tough job. They can have 25 – 30 children in their classroom with little or no assistance and they are dealing with many other diagnoses not just ADHD. Teachers need our support not our resistance. Being open to their needs as well will make that communication process easier.
- Help your child and teacher understand
Working with your child and the teacher about what triggers them for unacceptable behaviour will make your school journey easier. Helping your child with strategies to self-regulate and explaining that they need help to understand something will assist them to manage themselves. If the behaviour is triggered by something, commonly frustration, then find out what that frustration is and how to handle it. Maybe they need to learn something a different way, maybe they need to learn how to ask for help and say when they don’t understand something or maybe they need the freedom to do something differently but have the same result.
This is where helping the teacher understand will help as well. Providing the teacher with information about your child and ADHD in general will help them implement strategies which will make their life easier and easier for your child. Below is a link that you can share with them to give them some free resources that I have put together. http://beyondthemaze.com.au/educatorsfreeresources/
- Know your rights
Every child in Australia is entitled to an education. If things are not working with your teacher and communication is just not happening on their end then make an appointment with the Principle, Learning Support Teacher or school Guidance Counsellor. Talk to someone that will listen and help you help them. Follow up to ensure they are doing what they said they are going to do. Remember this is for your child.
If you have tried this and you feel that no-one is listening to you then you can go above the school by going to the head office if you are with a Private, Catholic or other non-state school or you can go to the Education Department if you are with a state school. Failing that you can contact your local member of parliament or the Education Minister to assist.
Hopefully with these strategies you won’t need to take it any further as that is usually not a very nice road to be on, not to mention stressful.
If you are having problems with your school or what strategies to bring into school for your child, then I can help. I am a qualified ADHD Coach and we can work together to implement strategies to take to your school to help them help your child.
If you are interested in knowing more then please feel free to contact us for a complimentary appointment to see how we can assist.
Paula is an ADHD coach, parent advocate and author who is passionate about helping parents with children living with ADHD and changing society’s opinion on ADHD. Paula is available for speaking events also.
If you want more information on how to work with your ADHD child feel free to contact Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org