We suspect ADHD…Help!March 31st, 2010
Ever since I informed my daughter’s teacher that we suspect she has ADHD and that she is on a waiting list to have tests done, her teacher seems to be worse with her rather than more understanding. In fact, she no longer has time for her. She’s constantly shouting at my daughter now for struggling with her work and not getting it finished in time and getting it wrong. She is even giving my daughter extra assignments as a punishment for it. My daughter is really stressing out about this and she stays up late refusing to sleep until she completes this work. Is it just me or is the teacher doing the opposite of what she should do?? What should I do?
Whether your daughter is diagnosed with ADHD or not, her teacher is responsible for teaching her and creating an environment that is safe and conducive to learning. It might be that your daughter’s teacher is feeling overwhelmed with the possibility of teaching someone that doesn’t fit into her square peg or round whole, so to speak.
That being said, you do have your work cut out for you. It sounds to me that you need to do some educating of the teacher, although I don’t know how receptive she will be.
There are two issues going on here. One is the ‘yelling’ or ‘shouting’ at your daughter. The other is the additional homework assignments. Short of sitting in the classroom all day long, you are limited at this point to some extent with changing the teacher’s behavior.
First, set up a meeting with your daughter’s teacher and say something to the effect of, “I know that you are being pushed at times by your daughter’s name and I know you know her ADHD is what is interfering with her learning and it can’t be helped until we get the official diagnosis and develop a plan to address it. In the meantime, I was wondering how we might be able to work together to help your daughter’s name cope better in the classroom.”
Coming in in a non-confrontational way and ‘giving her the benefit of the doubt’ by saying that you know she realizes it’s the ADHD should put her in a more receptive mood.
If that doesn’t help, you might want to enlist the help of the vice principal, principal, or counselor and ask them what they suggest you do. I would go in saying you know your daughter’s teacher is qualified, but your daughter and she seem to be having some issues. You think it might be related to the fact that you told her that you suspect your daughter has ADHD.
I know this sounds a bit ‘nice’ when you must be fuming, but you always get more accomplished when you ‘sugar coat’ things as best you can.
If you do not get any assistance with them, you can contact your County Office of Ed or your state advocate. (Most states have them – give the Dept. of Ed a call to find out.) Sometimes just mentioning the name of the state advocate gets the ball rolling for you with a school.
Regarding the additional homework…
One thing you need to do to start with is to judge for yourself if the additional homework is beyond the typical amount of homework that a student in her grade should have. So, put the ADHD aspect aside for a moment to measure the amount of time that students should spend on homework. Students should on a normal basis not have more that 10 minutes per grade level of homework per night (3rd grade – 30 minutes). Then, realizing the complications that the ADHD adds to your daughter’s focus, add some additional time to that (30 to 60 minutes).
The National Education Association along with the national PTA suggests adding 10 minutes of homework per night incrementally with each grade level, as a general rule of thumb. Thus, a first-grader gets a total of 10 minutes, a second-grader 20 minutes, a third-grader 30 minutes, and so on, not to exceed two hours per night total in high school.
For high school Spanish teacher Michael Bolyog, homework is designed to reinforce what happens in the classroom, but should never be used to supplant class work. He sees the teacher’s role as similar to that of a sports coach: The player can go out and practice on his own for hour after hour, but the best learning occurs when the coach is right there with him, to immediately correct any flaws. Therefore, more than 30 minutes of homework per class may be an exercise in futility because the student can feel overwhelmed by the quantity of work, get distracted or bored, and end up giving it a halfhearted effort just to get it done.
Just a few more rambling thoughts…
You can share this info with the teacher, saying something to the effect that the National Education Association as well as the PTA supports this, so that is what your daughter will be doing from now on. You might also let the principal know that you have been having some issues with this, so you are going to do this from now on. You can have your daughter present when you talk with the teacher, so she knows what has been discussed and will feel stronger about not overdoing.
You might want to ask the principle or your school district office what the policy on homework is and what is the school policy about punishment is for the ADHD problems -then talk with the teacher. (Get your information first – then approach the teacher) You can say something to the effect that: “I thought the school policy or school district policy was ___________. Am I wrong here? Or Correct me if I’m wrong, but _____________.”
Once a diagnosis is made, you need to see what kinds of adjustments need to be made in the classroom. You might request a student study team meeting or suggest a meeting to set up a 504 to see what can be done to help your daughter succeed in the classroom.
There are a number of easy accommodations that can be put into place to help your daughter throughout the day, making learning easier and less stressful for both her and her teacher.
Hope this is helpful,
Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET