East Bay School for Boys for 2E / ADHD Student?

We are starting to explore middle school options for Fall 2024 for our son who has been assessed as having ADHD and also being highly gifted. We are interested in hearing about people's experiences with the East Bay School for Boys (EBSB) in Berkeley, and in particular, how well the school serves students with a profile like our child's. The combination of needing structure and support for his lack of executive function skills, plus also needing to be intellectually challenged / accelerated, is so tricky. As with so many 2E kids, he's a complex, vibrant, sensitive, restless guy. EBSB seems to have good reviews and I like their philosophy on paper, but would love to hear first-hand reports from parents with similar kids.

Other schools we're currently considering are EB and EBI (our son has background in both languages), as well as Aurora and Head Royce. Advice and experiences with the middle schools at any of those places, especially for 2E / ADHD kids, would be very welcome. 

Thank you!

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Hi my 2e kiddo goes to Big Minds in Pleasanton and we could not be happier. There is also a Pinole campus but I'm not sure of capacity. 

They're a fantastic group with tons of support for both kids and parents.  The curriculum is student led and is tailored to each individual student's needs.

https://www.bigmindsunschool.org/

Good luck!

Hello -

Unfortunately, we did not have a positive experience with EBSB. Despite having a known diagnosis of ADHD and being also diagnosed as being on the spectrum with additional learning disabilities end of 8th grade, the school did next to nothing to support him, although we were working with their Learning Specialist. The teachers did not put any of her recommendations in place, and nobody enforced them. The school also did not acknowledge or stop the constant bullying my son had to suffer from his classmates for being "different." He ended up with severe psychosomatic symptoms. We were assigned a tutor by the school (whom we had to pay extra for) who was not qualified to work with somebody with his learning profile, and we were kept in the dark about the lack of progress he made. DM me for details if you are interested. 

My son was recenly diagnosed with ADHD inattentive in the past year (7th grade and now in 8th) and goes to EBI. He received tons of support in general thus the late diagnosis and there are lots of kids at EBI with ADHD (most of the boys in his class). The school is great in support and the kids are kind. My son was thriving except homework was challenging in some areas of the classes he didnt like which is why we had him go to a therapist and got feedback from his spanish teacher and after a year long process we def determined he has ADHD. Its a very inviting community and lots of moms were there to guide us in the journey of finding solutions and executive funcitioning. Some new kids started in middle school and theyve assimilated quite quickly with the kids. It a very small cohort so the kids are all verg supportive of one another. We are sad to leave as weve been there for 12 years. EBI had prepared our son for the next chapter as we apply to other schools and hes scoring well in the 90th percentile on his entrance exams. The teachers are very supportive, just make sure he advocates if he needs more time, or is going to be late in class and communicate those and he will get all the help he needs. Lmk if you want to talk privately but def give them a look.

Hello. My son graduated from EBSB in 2016 and had a spectacular time there. He also has ADHD and has been identified as 2E, though he didn't yet have those diagnoses when he was in middle school. My comments below are informed by his time there, my time as a board member, and my son's time as an alumni support staff at EBSB during the pandemic. We were attracted to the school by the Work component of the curriculum (and the forge!) as well as the prospect of a school that fosters a love of learning. We were gifted with so much more.

While EBSB is not a special education school, the program is designed in such a way that naturally works for kids who have ADHD or mild learning challenges.  The classes are small, the seating is flexible (sitting or standing), the teaching is highly engaging and there are movement breaks scheduled in throughout the day. When my s found that there's a nice balance between academic rigor and support. Currently the school offers a good balance between academic rigor and support, there is an Executive Functioning Class part of the 6th grade curriculum and students that need more are supported by the Learning Specialist who can design Individualized Learning Plans.  

The greatest gift, for me as a parent, was to have my 19-year-old son go back to EBSB in 2021 and work with kids like himself, and to report that he could really see the value of an EBSB education: the individualized attention, the integrated movement, the attention to social emotional development among other things. I encourage you to keep the school on your list. It's truly one-of-a-kind.

Of course I’m biased as my son goes here. 
 

Our son has ADHD and has thrived here for all the obvious reasons:

  • small class sizes
  • more individual attention
  • workshop of course

What we like about it as well are the life skills that are taught. For example, restorative justice. If the boys have challenges they will actuall sit down with the boys together so they can share how what happened made them feel. They teach them how to “work it out”.  You don’t get this in a lot of other schools. 
 

We also like the 1:1 extra coaching sessions they offer. Our son thrives on this and uses the time to do his homework and complete projects. This is often 2:1, meaning 2 students, one teacher. He will also help his partner if they need it and want his help.  
 

We also like all the presentation and speaking skills taught. In 2 years so far, he’s “presented” his work five or six times. He makes a PowerPoint, then presents to us and sometimes a larger group, classmates, other students. We don’t see this with our other son in mainstream schools
 

We believe each child can thrive at the right school. Our other son is in public school and doing fine. Of course wish some things from EBSB were in public schools, and realize that’s not always the case.  For this son, we felt this was a stronger fit.

As for ADHD, and for ack of a better explanation, we have learned there are degrees of ADHD. Some kids have “mild” others have more significant, not bad, just different

For our son, and according to his doctor, he definitely has ADHD, and in the “milder” side. Our friends with kids who also have ADHD seem to agree. We all compare our stories so we can get a sense of variations. Don’t get me wrong there are still “moments” we all have to work through and it’s part of parenting and loving our kids for who they are and as they are. 
 

Our son is very self-aware of ADHD and comfortable talking about how it affects his ability to focus.  Both the good and challenging moments of ADHD.

I share all of this because we feel it’s important for folks to determine what is the right fit based on their child. It’s not always a one size fits all situation.

we believe EBSB has done a good job supporting our son, we are excited by how they teach and understand boys learn differently than girls in most cases. Especially when compared to most public schools.

as for other schools, we did not shop around. Had two close family friends who sent their sons there, so we felt like we had good info. Should we have shopped around a little, probably, that being said we are VERY happy with our decision. 
 

My recommendation to people is to fill in the blanks.

We know our son will have a great experience when they leave (school) because he will be better at ___, ___, and ___. 
 

Then if you say things like: studying, social skills, etc. 

Define those specifically. Paint the picture of “studying” that is in your head.

If one of them is “learning while having ADHD” try to define what “not learning” looks like.

Finally, when you come up with these answers, share this with the admissions folks, the parents of kids you talk to, etc. and ask how those items are addressed.

Example: we want him to be better at math. Ok, what does that mean exactly?