Parent-teacher conference time is fast approaching! Sometimes it’s a wonderful experience…sometimes not so much. If you end up worried after your conference, who can you go to for support? Consider your pediatrician.
A second opinion
Teachers may suggest that your child needs therapy, medication for ADHD, or testing for neurodivergent conditions. Although they may be right, all of these suggestions should be checked with your child’s doctor before you take action.
Your pediatrician has gotten to know your child over the years, following him or her through developmental milestones and physical and mental changes. Your child’s teacher has only known your student briefly at this point in the year. Teachers don’t diagnose conditions like ADHD or autism, but they may bring up the possibility or recommend testing. Your pediatrician can diagnose special needs — or reassure you.
If your child has special needs, your child’s teacher is your ally in helping him or her succeed in school. However, it can sometimes happen that a child’s little quirks are misunderstood or misidentified by a well-meaning adult. In such a case, your pediatrician can be your ally in helping you work with your child’s teacher in a positive, non-adversarial way.
Your pediatrician has also seen a lot of children and can help you understand what behaviors are developmentally appropriate…even if your child’s teacher finds them frustrating. Your pediatrician can also help you identify ways to influence behaviors that may affect your child’s success in school, even if they are common at your child’s age. Sometimes a bad fit between the personalities of a child and a teacher can require non-adversarial advocacy for your child or even a change of classroom. Your pediatrician can help you get perspective if you find yourself in an upsetting situation.
Be sure to ask all the questions you need to ask in order to understand what concerning behaviors a teacher might see and any developmental or health issues your doctor might consider. Getting surprising news in a parent-teacher conference can be a shock.
Even if the news is upsetting, take the time during the conference to get details:
- What specific behaviors are causing concern?
- How long and how frequently have these behaviors been observed?
- What strategies are being used to respond to these behaviors?
With this information, you can present the possible problems clearly to your pediatrician. Try to resist the temptation to blame the teacher, the child, or yourself. Facts will be more useful in identifying possible issues. Assume that you, your child’s teacher, and your pediatrician are all on the same side — all working together to help your child succeed.
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