ADD Children and the Parent/Teacher Conference

There are two scheduled parent/teacher conferences at the school where my children attend.  One is in the fall and one  is in the spring.  If things are going worse than expected they schedule additional conferences.  I do not know of any parent with ADHD children who looks forward to the parent/teacher conference.  OK, perhaps no parent looks forward to a parent teacher conference but when you have kids with ADHD, school is likely to be an area that always needs a considerable amount of improvement.

ADD Children ConferenceI have tried to lessen the pain of the ADHD  parent/teacher conferences by trying to stay a bit ahead of the game with regards to emerging the ADD child's school problems.  I have asked their teachers to inform me of my child's ADD problems (or any other problems) sooner rather than later.  It makes no sense to me that a teacher would wait for a conference to report that your child has not passed a vocabulary test since before Christmas.  In the case of the school that my kids attend, this rarely happens but it has been known to happen in other schools or to other ADHD parent so I feel that it is prudent to inform teachers that you want continual communication in order to stay on top of the kid's progress or lack thereof.

There is a thin line you walk here between masochism (looking for trouble) and pro-activism (address issues before your child falls way behind).  I have to admit that when I get those emails or phone messages, I cringe.  When I see the name of one of their teachers in my email box I secretly pray that one of them hasn't committed some unforgivable infraction.  I have come to realize that those emails can be devastating, your child has sent another child to the emergency room, or they can be totally benign, they want juice boxes for a service project.  I hold my breath until I have read the entire email and rejoice when nothing terrible has happened.

This year, after my Hyperactive/Impulsive son had been on medication for about 2 months, I got a nice note from his science teacher saying that she had noticed a tremendous difference in his school work.  It was so nice to get that email but I have to admit that given that the news is generally not good, this one email did nothing to ward off the sense of dread that comes from seeing any teacher's name in my inbox.

My mother rarely paid any attention to anything that teachers said at parent/teacher conferences.  I know this because I had to sit in on several.  Her approach was one of total self confidence in her children and total suspicion in whatever the teachers were reporting of their experience with her child.   She once told Sister Rosario that she needed to take a look at how she was teaching math because I could do my 10th grade brother's math homework and she was failing me in 8th grade math.   This did not sit well with Sr. Rosario and in March of that year, Sr. Rosario suggested that I did not need to be admitted to the catholic High School where all the other girls in my class were going and that I could take my insubordinate mother AND my 10th grade math skills over to the Public School.

I respect my mother sticking up for me and I have to admit that if I had to deal with Sr. Rosario, I might be forced to behave the same way, but I think that a more collaborative approach with teachers is probably, as far as educational advancement is concerned, more beneficial.

The spring parent/teacher conferences are coming soon.  I wonder what good news is in store for us.


  1. Great post. You are so right about parent-teacher conferences. I think it's also important for teachers to discuss a child's positive strengths, and not just focus on problem behavior. Especially considering that children with ADHD may already suffer from low self-esteem (being told they're bad or lazy or stupid, etc.).

  2. Here is a tool that parents can use to take notes at parent-teacher conferences. It encourages parents to be proactive and invested at these meetings. Note that it also has spaces for the parent to ask/write down their child's strengths in the classroom.

  3. Thanks so much for these terrific tools and suggestions. I think it is true that having a checklist is really helpful!! Tess


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