ADHD Education Options:
Public vs Private

The best type of ADHD education plans match the student’s learning style with a complimentary teaching style.

For parents, this involves understanding your child’s learning style and doing some research to best match that learning style with a school’s or teacher’s teaching style.

The good news is that there are a number of ADHD schools that are highly specialized in teaching children with ADHD and other learning disabilities.

To begin, you must understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses by asking yourself and those that know them (teachers, doctors, therapists, etc) the questions listed below. The more honestly and accurately you answer them the better chance of finding academic success for you child.

Assess Your Child's Learning Style

Is your child an introvert or extrovert?

Does he/she volunteer happily in class or does he/she require some additional prompting and encouragement from teachers?

How are his listening skills? Do they need improving?

Does he often require extra means of getting his attention such as through touch or extended eye contact?

adhd education

In terms of getting work done, does he function better independently or does he prefer working as part of a group?

The previous question also raises questions about your child’s social awareness and peer relationships. Does your child make friends easily or is making new friends more of a challenge?

Think about distractability: Does your child need to be completely removed from classroom distractions, such as being seated away from windows and other distractions?

Does your child perform best when homework or assignments are broken down into smaller steps?

How much tutorial assistance and extra learning supports does your child realistically require?

Does your child possess high or low stress tolerance? Does he become easily frustrated, especially when asked to repeat challenging tasks?

Does your child respond best to hands-on learning?

What are your child’s specialized individual needs? Be as specific as possible.

What would any prospective school or teacher need to know before working with your child in order to help achieve the best results?

Does your child prefer lots of physical activity?

Does he prefer working with white noise or background music?

Now that you have a better sense of what your child needs to be successful, contact prospective schools and inquire about their specific services. Ask lots of questions.

Move beyond the brochures. Visit as many schools as you can. Attend open houses, observe a class, review the facilities, talk to current students and their parents to get their opinion, etc.

Important Questions To Ask Schools

What is the school’s philosophy and approach to learning?

What types of specialized services does the school offer?

adhd education 2

Does the school have a treatment team that includes psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, special education teachers, guidance counselors, etc.?

What is the student-teacher ratio? (The smaller the student-teacher ratio the better.)

What types of extra education supports does the school offer (tutoring, etc.)?

What is the education level of the teachers and school administrators?

Do they allow for tape recorders, or provide extra time for test taking?

Do they provide organizational skills training?

Do they provide time for frequent breaks and recess? (Physical activity and exercise helps improve focus and concentration.)

What role does the school expect parents to play (tutoring, completing at-home exercises, etc.)?

Does the school offer or require open communication with parents in the form of team meetings, progress reports, etc.? (It should!)

Does the school feel like a safe and encouraging environment for your child? Do the teachers display patience?

Are the children roaming aimlessly without direction or are they provided with structure? (Successful ADHD educational programs generally provide lots of structure.)

ADHD Education Options: 504 Plans, IEP Plans, Mainstreaming vs Special Education Classes

For most parents, a private school is not a realistic option due to the extra costs involved.
For families in that situation, public schools can often offer many academic resources and supports.

For example, 504 plans and IEP's (Individualized Education Plans) mandate that elementary or secondary education students who are diagnosed with a disability receive educational accommodations that will help ensure their academic success and provide equal access to an adequate learning environment.

The main difference is that a 504 Plan is used by a general education student who is not eligible for special education services, while IEP plans provide for special education curricula and related services.

There are valid arguments for mainstreaming and special education classes. It all depends on the environment where your child functions best.


Picking the right school for your child with ADHD is the most important part of any ADHD education plan. Parents, by acting as essential advocates, are best equipped to ensure a positive learning experience for their children.

It can be daunting, but if you understand your child’s needs and look for the school that compliments those needs you can be confident that you provided your child with a positive learning environment.

The bottom line is that parental involvement is essential to any ADHD education plan. Children are more successful when their parents engage with teachers, school officials, and the treatment team.