Guest Expert

Selecting the Best School for Your Child with ADHD

Kellie Huff

When all the accommodations in the world are still not working, how do you find out what options you have outside of your local Public School? Read on for 6 steps to help you assess specialized private schools, some thoughts on home school options for your child, and tips on how to make all of your options as affordable as possible.

6 Steps to Assess Specialized Private Schools

  • 1. Create a strong profile of your child. Know your child's strengths, weaknesses, interests and sensitivities, academically, socially, and in terms of work habits. Try to write it down for yourself, and make sure to include both strengths and challenge areas.
  • 2. Create a checklist of your child's specific needs. If your child has received a professional evaluation, use the list of recommendations (e.g. smaller classrooms, preferential seating, frequent breaks, etc.) to evaluate your options. If not, ask a supportive teacher or learning specialist to help you.
  • 3. Consider the Whole Child. Your child's intellectual potential is important, and so is his/her self-discipline and performance scores. All too often, exceptionally bright kids fail in academically challenging programs because they lack structure, and/or stress levels become too high. Set your child up for success by setting realistic expectations based on all of your child's needs and abilities, not just his/her IQ.
  • 4. Interview the Schools. You want to see an understanding of ADHD woven into the fabric of the school. From class size, to teacher experience, to room décor, if a school claims to have a focus on educating a child with ADHD, it should be obvious. There are specific types of educational approaches and methods that are a natural fit for learners with ADHD, such as: Active Learning Environments, Hands-on Learning, Engaged Learning, Textbook-free classes, Project-Based Learning, Personalized Learning Plans, Universal Design for Learning, etc.
  • 5. Conduct an Investigation. Interview principals, primary teachers, speech therapists, teacher's assistants, other special-needs providers, and parents of kids enrolled in the school. Write a list of questions for yourself (eBook will have examples) that include size, teacher training, flexibility, etc.
  • 6. Observe classes in progress. Is a video presentation in the school gym the only way you can see a school? There should be more and better access to get a feel for a school. At an open house, a school is on its best behavior. If you feel uneasy about it then, chances are the uneasiness will get worse. Roam the halls, step inside classrooms, talk to teachers, and keep an eye out for:
    • Class Change. How are kids behaving between classes? Do they move along easily on their own, or do teachers have to push them on to the next room? Are children interacting in a safe and friendly way?
    • Engagement. Be it in a lesson, on the playground, or in a gym class, are kids safely engaged in learning and activities? Beware if too many kids are goofing around, staring into space, or picking on other kids.
    • Tolerance. Does a teacher accept or reprimand a student who squirms, shifts in his seat, or gets up a lot?

Considerations for Homeschooling

Homeschooling may be a consideration if you live in an area without specialized schools, or if you believe your child may need a break from a school environment for a period of time. This gives you, the parent, the opportunity to provide the schedule and accommodations customized to your child. Some of the funding opportunities listed below can be applied toward homeschooling expenses.

Accredited online classes can provide the framework for your course selection, and offer the reassurance that your student is working toward an accredited high school diploma and will be eligible for state scholarships for college. For students of all ages, we are currently seeing an explosion of online options.

Available options today include:

  • Online free charter (public) schools
  • Elite private schools offering their own curriculum
  • Nationally accredited curriculum that complies with the U.S. Core Curriculum standards

Funding your Selection

Tuition at Specialized schools can range from $7000.00 to $40,000.00, depending on the type of specialized services they offer. Many parents may not even consider the more high-priced option, but the benefits of having your child in a safe, nurturing and understanding environment, where s/he can and will learn and advance academically, make those schools worth exploring. Many of the more expensive options have financial aid available to students, and experienced staff who are available to guide you through the process of reducing the out of pocket tuition costs significantly.

First, look for the best school for your child. Then explore the funding options.

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