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ADHD in Children Health Center

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8 Tips to Pick a School for Your Child With ADHD

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD

From kindergarten through grade 12, the average American student spends 2,340 days in school. That's a lot of time! No wonder you want to pick a positive place for your child to learn.

School can also be a major factor in the long-term success of a child with ADHD. Whether you’re looking for the right school or want to make the best of where they go now, take a closer look at these eight things.

1. Their Approach to Learning

One of the first things you should do is to talk the school’s leaders and educators -- the principal, vice-principal, and the teachers -- to better understand how they approach the learning process.

"Get an idea of who they are and what their learning philosophy is," says Terry Dickson, MD, director of the Behavioral Medicine Clinic of NW Michigan, and an ADHD coach.

Specifically, find out how they approach kids with ADHD.

"What do they offer?" Dickson says. "How do they position these kids for success and help them thrive? Is there flexibility in the learning program to adjust to a student's needs? How do they model good behavior? These are some of the questions you should be asking."

2. Structure, Structure, Structure

When it comes to some kids with ADHD, structure in school is a good thing, notes Patricia Collins, PhD, director of the Psychoeducational Clinic at North Carolina State University.

Schools that are suited to a child with ADHD focus on structure and consistency as core foundations for learning, with clear timelines, processes, and expectations, and they take a step-by-step approach to learning and homework. If your child's school doesn’t make these a part of what they do, ask about how you can help.

Of course, all kids with ADHD aren’t alike. If structure doesn’t work well for your child, perhaps a less structured approach, such as Montessori, may be a better fit.

3. Accessible Role Models

Teachers can be excellent role models for all kids, but this is especially true for kids with ADHD, notes Dickson, who is a parent to two children with ADHD.

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