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ADHD at School

How do I best support my ADHD first grader?

I am posting this question because my son starts first grade this week and I am terrified for him.

Kindergarten was a struggle but he had a great teacher who had a full time assistant.  The teacher and school counselor worked hard with my son and I to help him grow and learn.

I met his first grade teacher two days ago and I have been feeling a sense of panic ever since.  She had informed us that she is the only teacher in the room of 24 kids, mostly boys.  She smiled when she talked but she seemed to lack emotion.  I had sent her an email the week before to introduce my son and myself and to try to begin an open dialogue and communication to work with my sons ADHD.  She replied with a stock type of email.  Then when we met her, she didn’t even acknowledge the email or the situation.  I tried to bring it by thanking her for the reply.  She replied you are welcome and that was it.  We met the art teacher, who my son knew from last year.  She asked who his teacher was and when we told her, she replied that his teacher was really strict and had a way to make first graders behave.

My son is very hyper and impulsive.  He is also extremely sensitive. He is not on medication yet.  And I am seeking a good behavioral therapist who specializes in ADHD as the last one we had was not good.  (All which I told the teacher) I am terrified that this teacher isn’t going to have the right balance of rules and reward.  I am terrified of my sons self esteem being greatly impacted.  He struggled last year feeling like the kids didn’t like him, but he felt that he could earn the approval of his teacher.

I am feeling panic and I don’t want to overreact by switching his school (apply to local charter school) or requesting a conference with the principal.  Most of all, I don’t want my son to know how worried I am.

So, what should I do and how can I best support my son?

Replies

Hi there,

Take a deep breath!  I was in your shoes last year as my son moved from first to second… and I regret now keeping my intuition and worries to myself… my point is, please go with your instinct about this teacher.  Your feelings are correct and immediately set up an appointment with the prinicipal.  Get your name known.  Be in their faces from the start!  Please don’t do the wait and see approach… I so regret it, using my sons self esteem as a guinea pig all the while hearing the right-ish answers from his teacher, but just having a bad feeling that he’s not getting enough, and turns out he wasn’t.  Toward end of year, I found my voice and a lot changed, overnight!  Teachers are overwhelmed, overcome and as long as you are doing everything you can, you are making it easier for the teacher to follow your lead.  I wish you good luck!  Eileen

Posted by Eileen1013 on Aug 24, 2014 at 2:21am

When you set up the appointment, request that his teacher be present.  Ask what kind of support you can expect from the school, specifically.  Explain everything you can, bring in paperwork, just be prepared.  Before you leave, YOU say when is a good time for us to touch base again, lets say 2 weeks?  Squeaky wheel!  Please don’t let time go by.  You are his advocate.  Most people are good, his teacher is probably a very nice woman, so just look at it that its your job to teach her…all year long. smile

Posted by Eileen1013 on Aug 24, 2014 at 2:24am

Thank you for your reply Eileen.  Even though it has been a year since my sons pediatrician confirmed ADHD, I still feel brand new at being his advocate.  I am not an assertive person by nature, but I want it do everything I can to help my son.  Unfortunately, I also feel very alone in this adventure.  My husband and both sides of the family do not accept or support the diagnosis and of course, have their own suggestions on how I could be a better parent. 

Anyway, I agree with your suggestion in that I should schedule a meeting right away.

Thank you.

Posted by Techsavvymom on Aug 25, 2014 at 1:05am

They don’t accept or support it?  Oh my goodness… I really feel for you. I have had my husband say that I made it up so I can get attention for myself… what?!  Please email me if you’d like, we can probably share a lot!  (By the way, I’m divorced now. lol)  A mother knows best and you are VERY SUPPORTED HERE.  I am not assertive either.  But I am telling you, it was at the expense of my son… ;( And please remember, teachers and principals welcome this information, they want to know how they can help.  Don’t assume the opposite and it will make your appointment go that much smoother, I promise.

Posted by Eileen1013 on Aug 25, 2014 at 1:24am

I feel you techsavvymom! I am a very shy person with significant social anxiety. It is VERY hard for me to stand up to people face-to-face. But, I’ve become very driven to make school a place where my son can feel good about himself and find I can be more outspoken when it comes to my kids. wink

I agree that you have to listen to your intuition. I learned the hard way (my son was moved to a different class the last quarter of 4th grade because his teacher refused to follow his IEP and had escalated his anxiety to the point of physical meltdown in the classroom—I was about to brawl with the teacher too).

Approach the meeting from the standpoint that you want to find the best match for your son’s learning style. That doesn’t insinuate that the teacher in question is a “bad teacher” only that your son requires a teacher that caters to his specific learning style to achieve academic success, due to ADHD. Here are some more strategies to get school staff on your side: http://www.additudemag.com/slideshow/27/.

Introducing your child’s strengths and struggles from the start is helpful too: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/2549.html.

Penny
ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Aug 25, 2014 at 1:45pm

Our son Joshua’s 5 and been diagnosed ADHD full blown since age 2. We have been and done everything possible in the past 3 years and have lost most friends and family, not to mention our own sense of humour.

Josh started first grade in January this year at a private college. Prior to his commencement we were most interested to know his teachers qualification and attitude to ADHD children. Simultaneously, we placed him in OT. His teacher was quite honest in her assessment of not being overly trained but agreed to work with him/us, she appeared to be strict too.

The first 3 months were pretty much hit and miss, the head mistress called us in a few times and we noticed his teacher was quite exhausted. We expected too much and having being exhausted ourselves, expected her to provide the miracle we so much needed. Admittedly, we took our foot off the gas…I expected them to teach my son because we were paying for it !!

My wife and I became quite depressed and soon realised our son needed ALL of us to work together. I’d write a manuscript here if I don’t stop but know this, if you don’t communicate loud and clear and agree to the same principles, your son will return home upset most days.

Posted by ernest on Aug 28, 2014 at 1:49pm

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