It is important to save formal evaluations, copies of support plans at school and Report Cards with teacher comments. Why?
Sometimes children begin to struggle in later grades or as adult students, either due to an undiagnosed learning disability or undiagnosed attention/focus problems. Teacher comments on reports from preschool through High School can provide documentation of teacher concerns about staying on task, completing assignments, doing homework, poor organization, learning to sound out words or learning to spell. Then, if in 6th grade, 10th grade, or in college you or your student seeks an evaluation, these materials can be shared with the evaluator. This written documentation is a reliable record.
Our memories of the past tend to undergo reinterpretation over time. As parents we may have forgotten the early struggle of our child (or ourselves) in school, especially when everyone is doing “fine” now. Many learning and attentional challenges have a genetic component. For example, between 70 – 80 % of cases of ADHD are related to genetics.
When our children become parents, they may not recall their own struggles with learning. If your grandchild begins to struggle, bringing out the old-school records for the parent may provide some insight to the parent. It will not just be the meddling grandparent expressing an opinion, but a written school record. Objective data may change the nature of our communication with a struggling student from “blame and shame” to empathy.
School records can be useful further along in the academic path. Grades in foreign language in combination with written teacher comments on the high school report card can prove invaluable in trying to obtain a waiver for the foreign language requirement at the college level. Notations describing the student as diligent, always completing assignments, seeking extra help coupled with a poor grade in foreign language would support a request for a course substitution. A record of numerous absences in high school will provide documentation of chronic illness and, perhaps, explain a lower grade point average. The cumulative record that is stored by the school district may not contain teacher comments - save the original report card in a binder, or save the information digitally.
Sometimes adults who were diagnosed with ADHD as children stop taking medication at some point. Then, time passes, and they realize that they still have significant symptoms of ADHD. The symptoms are affecting their work life and/or relationships. Their medical professional may hesitate to prescribe medication without documentation of the previous diagnosis. Then, the records that parents kept from the elementary/high school years will be helpful in the evaluation process for an adult. If documentation of support at the University is available, that will support the extensive history of ADHD.
Educational records have no expiration date. Missing records can be obtained by getting in touch with the High School or College and may save time in accessing treatment as an adult.