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The Best Schools for Kids with ADHD

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Key Takeaways: 

  • Most teachers, including special education teachers, receive minimal training in ADHD.
  • Private schools that market to the ADHD community don't always provide the most optimal learning environment for a child with ADHD. 
  • As an experienced School Social Worker and School Counselor, I believe it's best when possible for kids to go to school in their community. 


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I am a former school social worker and counselor, and I've worked in public schools, private special education, and private college preparatory schools for students with learning differences. The most common question I hear from parents is, “What is the best school for kids with ADHD?” My answer is always that there isn't a "best" type of school, but rather a school that works for your child at this particular point in time.

The Reality of ADHD Training in Teacher Education

Parents will often say, “My child has struggled because the teachers don't seem to have any training in ADHD”. The truth is that most teachers, including special education teachers, receive minimal training in ADHD. This lack of training is not just in public schools; it's widespread across various educational settings, including faith-based and private schools.

Expensive Doesn’t Always Equate to “Better”

In my 20-plus years of doing this work, I have never said to a family, "You need to take your child out of public school and put them in a $45,000 a year private school." In fact, there have been times when I've advised the opposite. Some private schools, even those catering to students with learning differences, don't always provide the right environment for a child with ADHD. I've seen many families switch to public schools and find it to be a better fit.

The Importance of Community in Schooling

I feel strongly that kids, when possible, should go to school in their community. This belief comes from personal experience. My son, from fifth grade onwards, did not go to our local public school. He went to a school for students with behavior challenges, because our local school district could not support him. This meant he missed out on feeling like he was part of our local community. I also missed out on forming a community of local parents, too.

The Unexpected Advantage of Public Schools

For students who have 504 plans and IEPs, public schools can provide greater accountability and a level of support that many smaller schools are not able to provide.

Public schools, with their diverse environments and resources, often have programs and strategies in place that can be highly beneficial for children with ADHD.

Finding the Right School for Your Child

I hope this is helpful. Finding the right school for a child with ADHD isn't about chasing the perfect educational setting. It's about understanding your child's unique needs and finding a school that can meet those needs at this point in their life. Remember, the best school is one where your child can thrive, both academically and socially. 

 

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