6 Tips for Choosing the Right School if Your Child Has ADHD
6 Tips for Choosing the Right School if Your Child Has ADHD

Key Takeaways:

  • ADHD makes it harder for students to focus and sit still

  • Picking the right school hinges on you understanding your child’s personality and learning style

  • Be prepared to interview schools the same way you would a job candidate

  • Pay attention to the structure and consistency offered by the school as this is important for students with ADHD

  • Find out about the school size, class size, and student-to-teacher ratio

  • Determine what kind of parental communication the school has

  • Learn more about ensuring your child’s success by listening "Your ADHD Child" from our latest episode on Experts in Learning Differences, A Speaker Series hosted by The American Academy

If your child has learning challenges related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), finding the right school is essential. You want a school that understands ADHD and how best to teach students who struggle with the condition.

How do you know which is the best environment? What qualities are important, and what questions should you ask?

The American Academy program provides six tips to help sort through the confusion so your child has the best chance of long-term academic success and personal growth.

The challenge of ADHD

ADHD can pose a difficult challenge for students. It affects a child’s ability to focus, concentrate, and put his or her best effort into schoolwork. If a child is hyperactive, he or she may have trouble sitting still becoming fidgety and restless. Some children cannot control the impulse to talk at inappropriate times, thereby, disrupting the learning process for other students in the class. 

Despite the challenges, schools can create programs and protocols to cut down on distractions and help these students focus so they can get their work done.

Here are six tips for finding the right school and programs.

1. Learn more about your child’s learning style

Before considering any school, you need to understand your child’s personality and personal struggles in school. Here are some questions to ask yourself. 

  • What kind of learner is your child?

  • Does he/she learn better by seeing (visual learner) or hearing (auditory learner) lessons?

  • Does he/she learn or remember best when he/she can touch things? (tactile learner)

  • Does your child learn best when combined with movement? (kinesthetic learner)

Understanding how your child learns best is key to finding a school and program that caters to his or her needs. Every child is different, so there is no one size fits all solution.

2. Understand your child’s personality

Closely related to learning style is your child’s personality. Is he or she outgoing and has never met a person they can’t speak to? Or perhaps he or she is more introverted and would rather watch an activity than participate? Does he or she work better individually or in a group setting? 

Take into account that your child may act differently in school than at home. Some kids are loud and rowdy at home, where they feel comfortable. However, they may become shy and withdrawn in a classroom setting.

3. Pay attention to the structure

Students with ADHD need structure and consistency in their days. This structure can lay the foundation for learning since there are clear expectations and processes. A step-by-step approach to teaching and learning is also advisable. It allows students to concentrate on one piece of information at a time rather than a string of information.

4. Conduct an interview

Companies conduct interviews to hire the right person. You need to do the same when looking for the right school to teach your child. Make sure the school is qualified to teach children with ADHD and that they have a great amount of experience doing so. Create a list of questions, just like a hiring manager does when talking to prospective candidates.

Interview the principal and other administrative personnel, the primary teachers, teaching assistants, and school therapists and/or counselors. It’s also a good idea to talk to parents of students whose children are enrolled at the school if possible.

Potential questions to ask include:

  • How many students do you have at the school?

  • What is the maximum class size?

  • What experience and training do teachers have with ADHD? What level of training?

  • What about classroom allowances? Is the school flexible about accommodations or IEPs?

  • Will the school allow lessons to be recorded rather than written?

  • Can your child have extra time to finish tests or in-class assignments?

5. Find out the student-to-teacher ratio

The average student to teacher ratio in this country is 16-to-1. Ideally, the school you choose should at least match the average. However, the lower the ratio the better, especially when it comes to students with learning challenges.

6. Understand parent/teacher communication

Some schools are more open and communicative with parents about student progress and classroom issues. Having good communication is vital if you have a child with ADHD and want to stay on top of potential issues. You want to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to educating your child.

Ensure your child’s academic success

There is a lot to learn when it comes to educating students with ADHD. The American Academy program offers specialized individual and targeted attention for students with learning challenges, including ADHD, dyslexia, and other conditions.

We also want to give you the tools to help your child overcome challenges and succeed in school and in life. You can watch episodes of our latest episode on Experts in Learning Differences, A Speaker Series hosted by The American Academy. Our goal is to help educate families about learning differences featuring topics such as dyslexia, difficulties with math, and college readiness.

Contact us if you have any questions or want to learn how we can support your child’s education.