New scholastic year – Be prepared!
If you are either a parent of a child just diagnosed with ADHD or you are an expert by now 😉 we would like to bring you some useful points to be prepared for the new scholastic year. Let’s help our kids start off on the right foot this year!
Children get anxious as soon as there is the glimpse of the first day of school. They know they have learning issues, trouble in organisation and in some cases in writing and reading, and while summer was their salvation from academic stress, summer always ends.
Our comments like …..the next scholastic year will be a better one….. we will study more…… it is going to be different…….they don’t help but just create more pressure. In order to help we may get more support, different tutors, private lessons or even switch schools and although at times some changes do help, the child may find it difficult to live up to the standard parents set. And there is no worst feeling than failure.
So the first point (Tip 1) we would like to bring you is to acknowledge and be open about the child struggles. Tell them that you know it is not going to be easy but you are proud of all the effort the child is doing regardless of the grades. Offer your support and this will boost their self-esteem. Learning is a journey in a child’s life. It is not just grades and exams and unfair expectations but learning new things and ways, broaden once knowledge in a fun and loving way.
When school starts it is important to understand that although we give the psychologist report to the school, teachers and LSA may not have access to it. So it is advisable (Tip 2) to prepare a copy of the report for each teacher/LSA with an introductory letter. This could be your first communication with the child teacher/s and LSA. You may want to discuss your child’s symptoms of ADHD and other learning difficulties like Dyslexia, Dyscalculia etc. The medication if s/he takes any as well as ADHD accommodations that have helped the child succeed in the past. And if your child is old enough s/he can write the letter themselves. It is important to be short and straight to the point giving facts and hints and be open to any suggestions from the teacher/LSA how we all can work together.
Once a child is statemented the parents will be contacted to go to the school and meet the teacher, LSA and sometimes the Inco to do the IEP (Individual Educational Programme/plan). This will be done in the beginning of the scholastic year however a month or two might pass from the first day of school. (Tip 3) be prepared on what is an IEP and what you can expect from it. The IEP is a legally binding contract between the teacher/LSA/INCO (school) and the parents. For the IEP the parents can bring along any professional they think will help to plan effectively the learning of their child during the scholastic year. The IEP is meant to address each child’s unique learning issues and include specific educational goals. The IEP should include information about the child’s strengths and needs and besides academic needs it may also contain areas of concern that have been identified, such as language development, behaviour, or social skills. It should contain measurable goals which are reasonably accomplished in one year. The IEP should also include a description of how the child’s progress toward the annual goals are being measured and when reports on the progress of the child will be provided.
Before attending the meeting especially if this is not the first IEP, it is good to read again what the previous year was suggested and achieved. The parents should write down important points to discuss during the meeting and if you feel to, you may ask that they are included in the IEP. Ask questions if you don’t understand the terms being used. Try to stay focused and positive and should the emotions during the meeting take over the process, it is ideal to ask for a reschedule. Remember that you can sign to show you participated in the meeting, but you don’t have to agree to the goals or services at the meeting. You can take the IEP home to review, get input, and return later. The IEP is reviewed at least once a year. However, if you or the teacher believes that your child isn’t learning or making progress or has achieved the goals sooner than expected, a meeting may be scheduled to revise the IEP. A written request is to be sent to the school administrators.
Parents have to keep in mind that this is a collaboration (working together) between the teacher, LSA, parents and the child. Respect is a must from all and don’t be ashamed to ask for help and what you can do to reinforce skills at home.