Which Elementary School for ADHD?
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- School for socially anxious 9-year-old with ADHD
- Services for kids with ADHD at public school
- Best type of school for child with ADHD/dyslexia
- Which Elementary School for ADHD child?
- Best School Districts for ADHD boy
- Does daughter's ADD entitle her to special services or accommodations?
- Applying to Private Kindergartens for ADHD Kid
We have a 7 year old diagnosed with ADHD- combined type and anxiety disorder. Currently we are in Illinois where he receives additional resource support for reading, writing and math in regular class room (which keeps him on task).He also gets separate pull out sessions focused on reading, writing and math with various learning aids. We are moving to the bay area with a new job offer in South San Francisco and dont know much about ADHD support services in local public schools. Our son does great in smaller class setting. In addition to the bay area, we are open to other areas (if there are good public schools). From our research (based on API score and great school rating), We've shortlisted the following areas. But, we also know academic ratings sometimes does not necessarily mean that the school provides great services to the special need students. If you are familiar with the school districts below and know some qualitative information- good or bad (such as leadership understands the challenges of a special need student, shows empathy etc.), please share that with us. We would be truly grateful. Burlingame, Belmont, Redwood city, Redwood shore, San Carlos, San Mateo, Foster City, Piedmont, Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, Fremont, Dublin, Claremont, Montclare, Rockridge, Richmond, Alameda. Larisa
Wow! Your Illinois school sounds so wonderful, that I almost started crying. I have a child with ADHD in a top-rated Oakland Elementary school (both Montclair and Rockridge neighborhoods fall in OUSD, by the way). Based on our experience, I would suggest that you try to find another school district. OUSD has been miserable for my ADHD kid. Some teachers try to help, but it seems more common that teachers punish kids for talking too much or not sitting still by taking away recess. It has been very difficult to get very basic accommodations, like extra time on assignments.
Honestly, we are ready to move to find better schools. I hope that there are responses about schools that do a good job in the Bay Area. I am also hoping that the original poster might share the name of the school/district in Illinois that does so much--- it sounds like a great alternative to where we are now. Anon
Our son, now in 4th grade, has been attending a private school in El Cerrito since Kindergarten. Though it is a wonderful, progressive school, because of his anxiety and ADHD, it has never felt like a good fit for him socially or academically. He has wavered between loving this school and hating it, the latter being the latest sentiment. He is having trouble connecting with his peers, who are often too overscheduled with other activities, and the academic pressure is getting to be too much for him--and he is starting to resist going in the morning. Though his teachers have been very supportive of his issues, his sometimes inappropriate behavior and difficulty reading social cues seems to be alienating other kids, and support from preoccupied parents seems to be nonexistent.
We're looking at other schools whose community can offer him more support and accept him for the unique individual that he is. It would also be nice for him to connect with friends who are not too busy to get together for spontaneous play time. Any thoughts on Archway, Walden, or others that might be a good fit for a sweet, bright, but anxious 9-year-old boy? concerned mom
Try Beacon Day School (510) 436-4466. Not only the number of children in each classroom is very small compared to other schools but they have incredible activities. The staff and teachers are thoughtful, knowledgeable and they really care about each child. Express your concern - I am sure they will address it and work with you to provide the best. narniaph
My son is now 11 and was diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, and anxiety when he was 7. It was getting worse in 2nd and 3rd grades. We were in a private school in San Francisco that boasted 2 learning specialists per grade and 2 counselors - he did not thrive and in fact, became more anxious and lost his self-confidence. Last year, we decided to commute to Oakland to have him attend the Pacific Boychoir Academy. My son enjoys music and singing and this environment has changed everything for him. Since we started there, he is so much less anxious just due to the supportive environment, small class size, and attention he gets. The musical aspect of the school has also had a profound effect on helping him stay calm and focused - he has come alive through music. He has been taking medication for ADD for years, but finally the days of tutoring and struggling over homework are gone - he's happy and motivated. The issues he used to encounter daily have disappeared. I know from experience that it's worth looking at many school options to find the absolute right one - I'm a believer that it's about environment - identify what makes him anxious (numbers of kids, pace, different interests, need for praise, etc.) and then look for a place that really addresses what he needs - it's worked for us. I've found that small classes, creative programs, and individualized attention go a long way for kids with ADD and anxiety. I'm happy to share more about our situation. kts
I would highly recommend Montessori Family School (MFS) in El Cerrito. My son has been attending MFS for 5 years now. When he started there he was 8-years-old and had a lot of problems with making friends, dealing with conflicts and being able to stand/sit still. MFS provided all kinds of recommendations, support, additional tutors, etc., etc., etc. It took a while, but the improvement in my sonC-s behavior is tremendous. He has learned how to deal with people and manage conflicts, able to concentrate and study well, and generally become part of school family. Happy MFS Parent
Our eight year old (a 3rd grader at Malcolm X in Berkeley) was diagnosed with ADHD last year. We put her on Concerta which seems to be helping her focus--at least somewhat. The school agreed to provide her with a ''full educational evaluation'' after seeing some very skewed speech and language test scores in second grade. They have completed these tests now and want to meet with us on Wednesday to discuss next steps.
We were told in a nutshell on the phone that our child even with the meds is ''borderline'' in qualifying for ''services'' and that it could go either way in terms of their decision on what to do.
So I am wondering whether it would be important for us to advocate hard for her getting ''services''--or whether ''services'' aren't all that helpful?? I don't really know much about ''services'' and their usefulness. Any and all advice would be extremely helpful to us. We want to do what will be best for our child. SH
You will definitely want to advocate hard for your child. The first thing to know is that your child has the right to a free and appropriate public education. The sticking point comes in defining ''appropriate'', hence the decision about what services and supports are needed for your child to succeed in school. If you are able, I would strongly advise that you get either an attorney who specializes in education/special education, or an advocate to assist you. I am a parent of two Autistic sons, one who also has Down Syndrome. I am not a paid advocate, just someone with a lot of experience who is always willing to help out fellow parents. Sarah
My son was diagnosed with ADD at the end of 2rd grade and for us the ''services'' weren't very helpful or there at all. We live in the WCCUSD and the money is just not there for these important ''services''. I found that working with the teacher worked much better. I set up a meeting with his teacher and figure out with them what they were comfortable with. His teachers gave him extra time to complete assignments and let him bring work home. He was even given his homework packet on Fridays (on the hush hush of course)so we could get through the more time consuming assignments in the morning when he was more focused. He wouldn't finish the homework over the weekend but would get a good start on it so it wasn't so much during the week. Now he is in middle school and I still find it much easier to deal with the teachers directly. For example.. he is in advanced classes because he can do the work but in Algebra he only does the odd numbers. That way he gets through the assignment but doesn't spend 2 hours doing it. I am not sure what the BUSD offers but this is how I got around the ''services'' or lack of. anon
Education Advocates at DREDF (Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund) can help you understand what special education is all about, and help you sort out whether your child needs special education to benefit from her education and how to best work with your school. Our services are free of charge. We are located in Berkeley, and serve families throughout Alameda, Contra Costa and Yolo counties. Contact us at (510) 644-2555 or iephelp [at] dredf.org. Robin Miller, Education Advocate, DREDF
My son has ADHD and was tested within the school distict. Testing gives you a sense of what is going on, but never as good as private testing. The school district never uses the term dyslexia even when you are searching for answers and it seems to you that what else could this be? The services were generalized, although you get an individualized plan that doesn't quite happen for a variety of reasons. Kids get pulled out in groups twice a week. I now have my son in a private school (they vary as well) and they very much support my son's needs and the teacher abides by the plan within the classroom. One thing to know...When we originally did the testing, we were told that it is the difference between the measured intelligence and the child's performance that qualifies him for the extra services. Howerer, in talking with a resource educator recently, it seems that this has changed and that even without this difference, the child may qualify based on performance only. Good luck. Been There
Our son is 7 years old and was diagnosed with mild dyslexia and ADHD. We have already given him the gift of another year (per all the great advice I found here!) so he will be entering First grade this fall, instead of Second grade with the rest of his peer group. He went to a Waldorf school for his early childhood and to a Catholic school for his first academic experience of Kindergarten. He loved both. The Waldorf school is 30 minutes away, Catholic school 5 minutes away. Our son is very social and outgoing, loves knowing ''everyone'' in our neighborhood, being a part of the community. I definitely feel more comfortable with the Waldorf community, so it was an adjustment for me getting used to the Catholic school environment.
Our son is very creative, loves to be outside, and is extremely active. All those qualities are encouraged and developed at the Waldorf school. He can't read yet, has trouble paying attention but behaves very well at school (at home, he is very difficult, but that's where he ''lets his hair down'' so to speak). He likes the ''big school'' feeling at the Catholic school: the fact that it is in our neighborhood, the pool, the gym, all very cool from a 7 year old's persepctive.
My concern: I am worried that he will have a very hard time keeping up academically at the Catholic school. I am trying to protect him from feeling as if something is ''wrong'' with him because he doesn't learn in a linear fashion. He already has received extra help and tutoring for speech, reading, writing, etc., but is still in the bottom/middle of the class after being held back another year and he still hasn't begun to read. I'm not worried in the big picture sense, but I am worried about him struggling in school.
I am wondering if he would fare better at the Waldorf school, using a multi-sensory approach to learning. Or, perhaps the rigid setting of the Catholic school would benefit him. Does anyone have experience with this situation/decision? I would love to hear from parents and/or students themselves who have been through this before.
I am also trying to seperate what I prefer (Waldorf) with what would be best for him (being included socially in the neighborhood, not having to switch schools again).
Thank you very much in advance for help in making a decision that is keeping me up at night. Lynn
Hi, My daughter has ADHD and Dyslexia and is now a freshman in high school. The very best thing you did for you son was to diagnose him early and get help.
The best thing you can do is get early intervention. Private schools don't have to adhere to any Special Education laws and normally don't have the intervention programs that public or specialized schools have. I do think it really depends on how severe his dyslexia and ADHD. If he is severe (not reading yet seems severe), I would get him the most intensive intervention now.
As for keeping up with his class, it is difficult for them and their self esteem does suffer because of it. But, I think it is good to find something he is good at, no matter how small it is, and to build up his self esteem with it.
I also think you need to look at what reading programs both schools have to offer. If the catholic school does not have an intensive reading program, then I would seriously think maybe it is not the best school for him at this point in his education.
Reading researchers tell us the ideal window of opportunity for addressing reading difficulties is during kindergarten and first grade. 95 percent of poor readers can be brought up to grade level if they receive effective help early. While it is still possible to help an older child with reading, those beyond third grade require much more intensive help. The longer you wait to get help for a child with reading difficulties, the harder it will be for the child to catch up.
The three key research conclusions that support seeking help early are:
* 90 percent of children with reading difficulties will achieve grade level in reading if they receive help by the first grade.
* 75 percent of children whose help is delayed to age nine or later continue to struggle throughout their school careers.
* If help is given in fourth grade, rather than in late kindergarten, it takes four times as long to improve the same skills by the same amount.
You will need a lot of support, you are your son's number one advocate and you know what is best for your son. If you have more questions, please feel free to email me.
My 8-year-old has ADD. You probably know that ADD starts to be a problem around 2nd grade when kids need to be able to listen to the teacher and stay focused on work long enough to finish a 15-minute task, neither of which my son can do! The developmental pediatrician who diagnosed him explained how ADD is actually a chemical deficit in the brain -- not a strong enough signal is getting through. The meds work by strengthening the signal so the kid can stay focused on a task that requires brainwork. No amount of tutoring can fix that.
I also have an older son who made it almost all the way through K-12 public & private schools with untreated ADD. I say ''almost all the way'' because he dropped out of HS. Since then he's had a series of low paid jobs, and started community college several times without being able to finish out a semester. He is a really great guy, smart too, but he has big gaps in his skill set from being tuned out for most of K-12. He also does not have the focus for anything more demanding than running a cash register, which is very boring for him, so he doesn't stay long in one job. He never went on ADD meds because I didn't believe in ''drugging children'' as they say. Now that he's old enough to make his own decisions, he says he is opposed to treating ADD with drugs. I love him dearly but I'm not that excited about supporting him for the long run. It is also very sad to me that he thinks he is dumb. He is not dumb, he just has ADD.
So, with that lesson learned, I now have a very different view about my 8-y-o's ADD. We began a trial of meds at the end of 2nd grade, and his teacher, who confessed a bias against meds, nevertheless told me that he noticed a 75% improvement in my son's ability to stay focused in class. What I noticed is that for the first time my son could carry on a conversation without my asking him the same question 5 times.
To answer your question: the Waldorf school will not be very demanding academically for a few more years, so your son will not have the problems he is having in a more conventional school. But he will still have ADD, and eventually he will hit the same roadblock he's hitting now. I really urge you to give the meds a try for a week and see how it goes. All the best to you
My son has ADD and learning disabilities that present as dyslexia though they are caused by long term memory and retrieval issues. He will be going to his fourth school in four years this fall. Two of those previous schools were Catholic schools. At both we found a high level of intolerance for his learning issues. The constant refrain was ''public schools have resources for children like that and we don't.'' While some teachers were willing to make some accommodations there were an equal number of teachers who were rigid that he must learn and produce in exactly the same way as everyone else. This is not true of ALL Catholic schools. I know of others (that are too far for us to commute to/from) that are more progressive toward children who already face challenges, but after two horrible experiences, where the learning problems were exacerbated by unchecked bullying and ostracism from classmates, we stopped searching for a Catholic school that would work with us.
I can't speak first hand about Waldorf and learning disabilities, but I have heard that the approach doesn't address them particularly well. Children with learning disabilities need very specific instruction that will not be taught in any general classroom. Frequently, especially with a child with ADD, that instruction is best delivered either one on one or in a small group setting. Your best bet is to either go to a school that specializes in learning disablities education, like the Raskob Day School, or put your child in a school that will be tolerant and accommodating of learning differences and get an educational therapist who can teach your child how to read and write around the dyslexia. We've paid anywhere from $45-$75/hr for ed therapy... that in combination with the tuition you are paying may be the decision maker as to which route you follow. a mom who has fought the battle
Dear Concerned Mom,
My older son sounds very similar to your son. In 12 years of teaching I have also had several students with dyslexia/ADD. I don't think Catholic School will present any problems for your child. My own experiences as a teacher in a Catholic school early in my career showed me how very supportive the school community can be, and usually is, for all students.
My son repeated K, and by the end of 3rd grade he was only reading at a mid-1st grade level. He was very frustrated with reading, and he was starting to give up. He began vision therapy in 4th grade at the beginning of December. The therapy is very expensive, but well worth it. The vision therapist suspected that he might have some form of dyslexia. The weekly therapy sessions lasted 9 months, and he still goes for check- ups every six months.
By the end of 4th grade he was reading at a late 2nd grade level. In 5th grade he was reading at a mid-5th grade level by January, and is now reading at a beginning 6th grade level as he begins 6th grade. He made the honor roll all three grading periods in 5th grade and tested advanced in English Language Arts on the CST at the end of 5th grade. He had tested basic in English Language Arts at the end of 4th grade.
Many doctors will tell you that vision therapy ''does not work'' for kids with dyslexia. My son used to say he was dumb, and it almost broke my heart. He doesn't say that anymore. His therapist was Dr. Iole Taddei in Corte Madera. There is a very informative survey on reading behaviors on her website. Best of luck to you and your family. Anne
I missed the original post on this topic, but in reading the responses want to chime in. My son has adhd/dyslexia and was attending a public elementary school where he had an IEP and received very routine ''pull out of the class'' assistance once a week (in and of itself very stigmatizing). We have had him at Beacon Day School in Oakland for the past several years where his IEP was honored, and actually steps were taken in class to address the modifications. It helps that the class sizes are small (14-18) and the teacher has the time to answer my son's questions so he can progress to the next step of whatever problem they are working on. His math, reading and writing have improved substantially. Also, Beacon is great for providing an environment of acceptance. Kids with learning differences seem to be accepted by other kids without too much notice. Hope this helps
I believe that the best educational model for a child with challenges like these is one in which the classes are small, the teachers are kind and have enough time to create curriculum that offers the possibility of success on the child's terms. Some children with AD/HD respond well to a highly structured environment, others do much better with a more flexible model, so the decisions have to be made on a case-by-case basis. In any case, it sounds like schoolwork could be very taxing for your child with this dual diagnosis. I am an educational therapist specializing in AD/HD. If you would like some professional advice or support for the development of organization and study skills, writing or reading comprehension, you can contact me at the email below. Also, check out the CHADD Educator's Guide and Parent-to-Parent Training classes. You can find information about them at www.chadd.org and www.chaddnorcal.org. Good luck. linda
I am looking for a progressive elementary school (public or private) in the Bay Area that will nurture my ADHD son. Some of the schools I am interested in include: Park Day, Aurora, Archway, Beacon, The Renaissaince School, and Orinda, Piedmont, and Marin Public Schools. I would love to hear from parents of kids with ADHD who have had either positive or negative experiences with these schools/school districts. Is there a school out there that has the resources to give ADHD kids the special attention they need??? Antonia
We have been quite happy with the services the Piedmont School District has provided for my 8-year old, who has ADHD-type issues, as well as learning differences. We have had to advocate to get our child appropriate services, including hiring a consultant/advocate, but generally have found the district to be responsive after being presented with the appropriate studies/data. At the school level, the principal and most of the teachers and staff have been very compassionate and open to learning about my child's disabilities and willing to make necessary accommodations in the learning environment, even before we officially qualified for special ed. services. Additionally, even outside the special ed realm, the district in general seems to have realistic homework expectations for grade-schoolers. Another factor to consider is the length of the school-day. Until the middle of 3rd grade, the kids are in school for only 5-1/4 hours (3-1/2 for kindergarteners). Plus, Piedmont in general has many services for special-needs kids, like after-school social skills programs and social skills groups, even outside the special ed program. Piedmont also has a strong special-ed parent group called PRAISE. If you're interested, you could call the school district for more info. about PRAISE and for the names of some Piedmont parents who might be willing to talk to you.
As far as private schools go, you should be aware that most private schools, unless they are therapeutic schools, will not test or give your child the services he or she needs. Public schools are mandated under federal law to identify the children with special needs, and federal funding is provided through the public schools to provide these services. A private school is not positioned, nor charged with servicing special needs students. If it turns out the public school system cannot adequately service your child, it will be required to find, and pay for, a private school that can meet your child's needs. So, if your child is disabled enough by his illness to have learning issues in school, I'd advise looking for a responsive public school district. I'd suggest that you call the director of special ed at some target school districts to talk about school services. I also highly recommend www.starfishadvocacy.org as an excellent resource for special ed needs for children with neurological disabilities.
Good luck! Another concerned parent
I'm ready to start looking to buy a house in the East Bay, but I need to be in a school district that will be accommodating to my now 8-year-old son who has ADHD and some writing difficulties. Is there an East Bay district that is better than others about offering special services and accommodating special needs? - Anonymous Mom
I have a high school student with ADD and writing and processing disabilities. My student was in the Moraga school district for elem. school. We found them hard to work with: holding a student study team meeting and trying to characterize ADD as an emotional/family issue; refusing to look at any third party professional educational testing (ours was done by a highly reputable phd) - even if they were not being asked to pay for it; disputes about whether our child qualified, testing disputes with our professional, when comparing the private testing to low star tests, telling us that the star test results are irrelevant; once qualified, having a protracted delay in receiving services, and once services were provided, not meeting IEP goals within deadlines and services being of minimal value; taking the position that they did not provide math remediation although other students received remedial math services.
We ultimately removed our child from the Moraga public school and went the private route. We checked into coming back to the Moraga middle school. Since we had already qualified, qualification was not an issue, but the type of services offered did not fully address my child's disabilities, so we remained in private school. Based on my experience, I would not recommend the Moraga school district, although, in fairness, I have heard, that the district is trying to change to address learning issues in the lower primary grades. While you need to look at the elem. school level for your 8 year old, don't forget to look at the programs on the middle school and high school level.We recently checked out the local high school which is in the Acalanes district, and again qualification was not an issue, but due to the future budget issues in the California public schools, we had questions about whether the special education teacher would be able to have direct instruction or remediation services with our student. -Anon
We have been told that attention deficit disorder in our child does not entitle her to any special services or accommodations at her public elementary school because it is not classified as a learning disorder, and only learning disorders entitle children to special help. Is this correct? If not, can anyone steer us toward a good source of guidance for getting the school's help in addressing our child's problem? Her teachers have all acknowledged that it is a serious one, but their only answer to it has been to seat her apart from other children when they feel she is too talkative, and to advise us to ask our pediatrician for medication.
In case it is relevant, our daughter is nonetheless advanced in reading and math, which may be why the school won't help. We are concerned that her distractibility and her inability to organize and finish tasks will create severe problems for her in middle and high school, and we would like the school's help in helping her learn and practice strategies for addressing the problem. Father of a ''space case''
I think that attention deficit disorder can qualify your child for services in the public schools under the ''other health impaired'' category. It is not true that only learning disorders qualify a child for services. If the add affects her ability to achieve her potential and impacts her successful participation in the classroom, then she should qualify for services. You might want to get the book ''The Complete IEP Guide: How to Advocate for Your Special Ed Child'' by Lawrence M. Siegel. I know it's available at Amazon and possibly @ nolo press. It is extremely informative and helpful. Special Ed departments are overwhelmed and underfunded, be polite, but learn your rights (the book will help), make it clear to the district that you know your rights, and be a squeaky wheel. You will have to push to get services, but it can be done. There is also an organization called CASE,Community Alliance for Special Education, that will advise you on a sliding scale basis and has an excellent publication (I think for free) called Special Education Rights and Responsibilites. Their # is (415)928-CASE. Good luck! Been there
I am a Resource Specialist in a Hayward Elementary school and I see this regularly. If your child has been diagnosed by a medical doctor with ADD or ADHD then you can request testing through the public school to see if he/she qualifies for special education (most likely resource time). If there is not a significant discrepancy in her cognitive ability and her cognitive functioning she would not qualify as learning disabled, but if she is having significant problems in the classroom she can be qualified as Other Health Impaired because of the ADD. I have a few kids in my class to whom this applies. Also, if she is not significantly low and you do not want her tested or in special ed, she should be able to qualify for a 504 plan which entitles her to modifications made in the classroom. This is not a special ed function, it is part of the American Disabilities Act. If you have any questions feel free to email me. Good Luck! Rebecca
Being a private school administrator and parent of a developmentally delayed son, I do know that public schools do not recognize ADD/ADHD as a disability and therefore, these kids don't qualify for special services. I think that stinks but I have been able to help parents find other resources of support through Bananas and Kaiser Permanente has a good support group. Hope this helps... lena
My son is having problems in kindegarten and we are applying to private schools for next year. I have two questions from parents who have been through this process.
1) We are considering evaluation from ADHD. I made the appointment and then I began to receive the applications many of which ask if the child has been evaluated for it (not if he's been diagnosed, but evaluated). My inclination is to simply wait until the application process is over before I have him evaluated because I don't particularly want to lie on applications, but I'd like to start the process sooner rather than later. Has anyone else run into this? How have you handled it?
2) This child's kindegarten teacher does not like him and does not enjoy having him in class. We are required to have her fill out an evaluation for him. I'm inclined to think that we have her fill one out and also have his preschool teacher, who actually liked him, fill one out as well. Would this be a good strategy?
Thanks for any experience/Advice you might have.
About trying to get the possible ADHD kindergartner into private school:
Your son is having a bad experience right now. Yes, work on next year, but also try to improve the rest of his kindergarten year in any way you can. Meet with the principal ASAP. See if you can get him transferred into another kindergarten. Be as pushy as it takes to get him as positive an environment as he had in preschool.
Don't assume private school will be better, especially if your child *does* have ADHD, or ADD, or maybe just some simple learning delays. I have seen kids with mild special needs, including my own, flounder in kindergartens in a very highly regarded private school, with teachers everyone (at least everyone whose kids are completely on track) raves about. These teachers didn't dislike the kids, but they also either didn't have a clue as to how to help them learn, or didn't see teaching to kids with different abilities as their responsibility. The attitude was very much "we don't do special ed; you better get some outside help".
The above is especially true if you get your son into a private school by "tricking" them about his possible ADHD diagnosis and the difficulties he's having this year. If you can't be honest with them about who he is and what help he might need, don't be surprised if they're not willing or able to provide the help when he's finally enrolled there.
We made the opposite switch, from private school to public, and with a combination of some outside help and lots of very real, enthusiastic, quality assistance from the school, saw tremendous improvement. Good luck.
I would not recommend disclosing testing, definitly not just the intent to test. I would wait till after applying to do the testing unless you think the results of testing would have a big impact on your choice of schools.
On the advice of my son's 5th grade private school teacher I had him tested for ADD and learning disabilities. He was OK - not in the range. Most of the other boys in the class, I later learned, had also been recommended for testing (!). This was an academic private school. We eventually decided to change schools because this same 5th grade teacher just really didn't like my son and was coming down on him pretty hard. As a result, he had completely tuned out during class time and he was doing poorly in the school. He is a great kid and very enjoyable and social but not the sit-still-be-quiet-and-follow-the-rules type. The principal at the school also was not very supportive so I didn't want to try another year there - there wasn't any way to make him into something he is not. So, we were looking for a new school. In applying to new schools, I answered "yes" to the question "Has he ever been tested for a learning disability?". I don't think I would do this now. The school we were most interested in had an unofficial percentage of slots available for learning disabled kids, and that percentage was full. I think that because he'd been tested, my son was assumed to be in this group, so he didn't get in.
Another point: the private schools I looked at all had some sort of test to administer, usually academic, but some schools had an additional interview/test to assess maturity and personality of the kid. So I think if they want to screen out learning disabled kids, they can, regardless of whether you've had your child tested previously. Of course if you are looking for a school that specializes in learning disabilities this is probably irrelevant. but my experience was with schools that want few or zero kids with learning disabilities, and the kid in question is maybe/maybe not.
As to another recommendation, yes I would get a recommendation from the preschool teacher. But I think many private schools are used to getting apps from kids who didn't get along with the teacher they had last year so don't sweat it.
In retrospect, I am very happy with the way things turned out. My son started junior high at a Berkeley public school and got a teacher for 6th grade who found him delightful and who inspired in him a love of math and science (this is George Rose at Willard). Though my kid is never on the honor roll, and still has the occasional run-in with "The Law" for Dennis the Menace type pranks (last month it was detention for opening every single locker in Building X and then leaving the premises), he is very happy and has a lot of friends and is making decent enough grades - even an A in math on the last report card (but don't ask about History). Good luck!
As a teacher I have to say that I am concerned about several aspects of your situation. Your response to a child who is having difficulties is to a) say the teacher does not like the child b) change the school, and c), mislead his future school about him. First of all, if a child is having difficulty behaving in class and getting in trouble for it, the child will sometimes say, "The teacher doesn't like me." The parents needs to help the child see the difference between the teacher not liking the disruptive behavior and not liking the child. Please think carefully about what you hope to accomplish by moving the child to another school. First of all, your child will have a different teacher next year anyway, even if not moved. Secondly, ask yourself why you are hesitant to let the potential new school know that your child might need testing. If you think that would deter the school from accepting your child, why would you think it would be a good place to send a child with that condition? Obviously, you think there is enough concern to get an evalution. Maybe this is where your first focus should be -- evaluating the child and determining what his needs are. If your son is now attending public school, that school should be looking at what support he should be given, if the issue is an academic one, and not just a question of behavior. If this is potentially the case, you should know that you have a lot of rights as a parent and should push the school to see if he needs services and if so, that he get them. In any case, I think it makes sense to first evaluate his needs and THEN to determine the best placement for next year based on that. Then look at the first grade teachers at the current school as well as at private schools. I know it's very hard to be objective as a parent but your son has a lot of this school year to go and you being angry at his current teacher is only going to make it more difficult for him, and I'm sure he's frustrated enough already. Try for his sake, rather than being angry at his teacher, to ask her to give you specific suggestions on what might help your son this year. Also ask what she is doing to address the issue and whether she thinks he should be referred to the School Site Council for possible resource specialist help. The issue of whether the teacher likes him comes up because children really want their teachers to like them. For the sake of your son's happiness over the rest of the school year, I would suggest you help him make his behavior as acceptable as possible. If you can try to be cooperative and supportive of the teacher this may help her put things in a better perspective too, and see your son as the child you love so much, not just as a disruptive influence.
My son, now in fifth grade, had a horrible time in kindergarten at Head-Royce and we did not make the decision to move him until he was actually kicked out by the school in second grade.(We kept hoping things would get better.) So you're smart to make a change right away. My son went to the Elementary School of Arts and Sciences(ESAS) on Broadway in North Oakland after his Head-Royce experience. This school is very small, only 18 kids, in a mixed grade setting (K-3), and although the teacher did find my son difficult, he ended up doing extremely well there. (My son in kindergarten was very "advanced" academically but way behind socially, so that a mixed grade class worked very well for him.) If you want a small setting with lots of parent participation, you might want to look into this school. (By the way, my son is now at Montessori Family School and doing very well)
Regarding the letter of recommendation from the current, unsatisfactory teacher: We had a similar problem and I chose not to request a letter from the current teacher. I did find another person at the school who knew my child (in our case, the speech therapist) and requested that she write the letter. I also made it clear to the private schools that we were leaving public school precisely because of our inability to resolve the problems created by the teacher and the current classroom situation. I also got letters from several other former teachers: a public school teacher from a previous year, an afterschool art teacher, our rabbi. My daughter was admitted to both schools we applied to. I can't imagine that risking a negative letter from a teacher whose opinion you disrespect can be better than omitting that letter with an explanation.