Speaking with the Teacher when Your Child is Struggling in School
“Our son is still having a hard time in school; we have tried tutoring, incentives, discipline…nothing seems to work. Should we talk to his teacher?”
For some children, it is often difficult to focus, making them miss valuable information in academic lessons or instructions for homework. They may also struggle with organization, forgetting what the homework assignment was and/or forgetting to turn in completed work. Furthermore, incompleted class work is often added to homework, which makes that task even more insurmountable and discouraging. If behavior is also a problem, the frequent calls and notes sent home can add to the frustration everyone feels, and make parent-teacher communication and teamwork even more difficult.
If some or all of these problems are hampering your child, talking with his/her teacher is one of the most important things you can do. Knowing you are aware of the problems, and want to help improve the situation, will encourage better cooperation with the teacher, as well as enable your child to succeed in the classroom. Try going a step further by assisting the teacher in class; this will further your efforts even more.
Just as in all walks of life, teachers range from good to bad. Some teachers have a good grasp on what the problem is and how best to help the student. Others may assume your child’s behavior problems are willful, that they are unintelligent, that their problems are the result of bad parenting, and/or that the parents are uninterested or unwilling to help. These misconceptions serve to make the problem worse and need to be corrected.
The keys to talking with your child’s teacher effectively are as follows:
If the above symptoms seem familiar, your child may have ADHD; have them properly tested.
If your child has ADHD, inform the teacher about the effects of the disorder and how you are treating it. Ask what their experience is with teaching children with ADHD.
Ask the teacher how s/he or the school can help your child with their academic work and/or behavior.
Ask the teacher in what further ways you can help at home and how you can work together to help your child.
If possible, ask them in what way you could be of help in the classroom. Even if the teacher declines, your willingness to help will tell them a lot about your appreciation of their efforts and the kind of person you are. This will go a long way to help your child, too.
Some teachers mistakenly believe the only treatment for a child struggling with ADHD is medication. Understandably, many parents, fearing the side effects and rigors of medication, will avoid testing for, and if it is present, treating their child’s ADHD. Fortunately, there is an alternative to this scenario. Neurofeedback is an effective, drug-free, painless procedure in which the individual learns to retrain the attention and/or impulse control mechanisms of the brain, alleviating the condition. Once training is completed, no further treatment is necessary.
Dr. Stephen A. Ferrari, Alta Neuro-Imaging Neurofeedback