|Why can’t school be this engaging, fun,
interactive? He’s experimenting with
science here and loving every minute!
Over the past couple months, there have been a lot of bets in a lot of our households having something to do with how long it would take from the start of school until we received a phone call from the school about our child — the dreaded phone call.
In years past, our phone call has come pretty early. In kindergarten, I had a phone call on the second day of school.
No, I didn’t mean second week, it was the second day
. In first grade (different school), notes began coming home about behavior issues and being off task within a week or two. In second grade, I believe Luke had a referral within two weeks (they always call home for referrals!).
This year I didn’t preface the start of school with a “Luke 101” meeting with his teacher. I let them get to know each other, all the while holding my breath each day from 7:30 am until 2:40 pm. Two weeks went, I was turning blue, and not a word from school. Oh boy, not a word! Not even a reminder sheet about turning in paperwork or joining the PTO. Luke was bringing home nothing.
And so I gave Luke and Mrs. N a couple weeks to get to know each other and then I sent Mrs. N an email.
I imagine it is about time for us to have a conference regarding Luke, ADHD, and accommodations he may need in your classroom.
I wanted him to have a chance to get to know you, your teaching style, rules, and classroom and you to have a chance to get to know him and where he might struggle before discussing his ADHD and special needs. I’ve found that each school year is so different from the one before that previous accommodations aren’t always applicable. I think he’s doing okay so far but I have no way of knowing for sure. I haven’t received any papers home except a receipt for the Scholastic News payment. I do know he’s been on yellow a few days. He and I have discussed the issue with breaking pencils. He really struggles with writing (both handwriting and the creative process) and he tells me he’s breaking pencils when he gets frustrated during writing. I think there are several alternatives to help him with that.
I’d like to sit down with you and find out how he’s doing in the classroom and how we might help him succeed in third grade. Do you have time to meet one day next week?
Her response was:
I am so THRILLED [inflection NOT added for effect] to hear from you!!! Yes, we need to meet. I wanted to take some time to get to know Luke before we met. I’ve read over his 504 and have been utilizing the accommodations. However, I’m not enjoying success… He is a great kiddo. I know he’s smart, and he tunes right in when we’re doing math. I’m just really worried that he’s not getting anything else.
And there you have it.
If I had not prefaced the year by telling her he has ADHD and a 504 Plan but I’d like them to have time to settle in with each other, there would have been a phone call home.
While I joke that this phone call is “the dreaded phone call,” it’s actually good to receive this call. This means the teachers realize there’s a problem and they are enlisting your help. This phone call is your call to action. It’s a window of opportunity being opened right in front of you. Don’t take offense… take action! This is your fork in the road. I’d like to say it’s up to you to decide which path to take, but the choice is obvious and I’m going to spell it right out. You must take action and work with the school to help your child. Getting defensive or ignoring the problem is the path of ignorance, not a good path to be on my friends.
So you make a great choice and you take the path of action. You have a couple options again. If you do not have any accommodations in place or an IEP for your child in school, this is your golden ticket to start that process. Respond to the phone calls with a written request to have your child evaluated
. If you have accommodations in place, like we do, these calls are opening the dialogue to discover ways to help your child. ADHD kids learn differently. Okay, all kids learn differently. It’s important to work with your child’s teacher to discover the best way to reach your child and help them achieve success in school.
I avoided the dreaded phone call this year, but only because I preempted it through a bit of wisdom instilled in years past. We still have issues. Luke is doing a phenomenal job with behavior this year (he got BLUE/PURPLE
last Friday!) but he is not completing his work and staying on task. I see so many improvements in him in third grade now (the improved behavior and he’s starting to self-regulate by weighing consequences), but we still have so far to go. I am going to work with his counselor and his teacher to devise a plan to get the work done. And, if that plan doesn’t work, we’ll make a new one and try, try again.
As parents of an ADHD child, we sometimes try to tell ourselves that school isn’t everything, or maybe that the general public doesn’t understand our child. But those are excuses and they are letting ADHD become a crutch and run our lives. Remember, power to the kiddo, not their ADHD.
Part of helping an ADHD child find success in life is to shape their environment to work for them, and part of it is to help them shape themselves to succeed in their environment. We have to teach them the tools to meet the demands of the everyday, real world. School should be part of this process.
Related posts: 504 plan, adhd and school, behavior modification, classroom accommodations, learning disabilities, organization, parenting/FAMILY, Penny Williams, school failure, special education (IEP)