Which High School for ADHD?
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- High schools with extra support for Inattentive ADD son
- Highly gifted ADHD student - which high school?
- Help finding an appropriate school for my ADHD son
- High school that accommodates ADHD student
- Public High School for ADD daughter?
- High School Recommendations for ADD and LD Kids
We are looking at high schools for our 8th grader who has ADD (inattentive type). He is bright but emotionally immature, has performance anxiety, and has very poor organization and planning skills. We don't think he'll be able to handle a large school, an academically intense/competitive school, or a place that is too unstructured. We are looking at Orinda Academy but are trying to figure out other options as well. We're wondering if people with knowledge of Realm Charter, Envision Charter, or Millenium think that these schools could be a good fit. I've heard that ACLC is very unstructured. Any other ideas/suggestions also very welcomed. mom worried about high school
If by ''Envision Charter'' you mean Envision Academy on Webster Street in downtown Oakland, I would urge you to drop it from your list. I am a parent of a student. While the school and its very dedicated, passionate staff do certain things well, it is a very chaotic environment, to put it mildly. And if your son needs an IEP, I feel even more strongly that it's the wrong school. The on-the-ground resource staff is great, but the school's director of special education is not, and they report to her. I won't say anything else this publicly...
Dear mom worried about high school,
Worry no more! There is a high school in Orinda, Holden High School, (www.holdenhigh.org) that provides lots of individual attention and a very nurturing and supportive environment. Holden is a small school that serves students from all over the Bay Area, accessible by BART. The staff at Holden recognizes each student's unique learning style and supports the student in developing emotionally as well as academically.
This is our student's second full year at Holden and he is doing well, his organizational skills are much better, grades have improved considerably, and he has matured emotionally.
Hope you will consider Holden to see if it might be a good fit for your son.
Wishing your family the best, A grateful Holden parent
I would encourage you to investigate ACLC more closely for your son. ACLC is not an unstructured environment, it is a more flexible environment which can really work to the advantage of kids with alternative learning needs. Many kids with learning challenges like ADD thrive in their project-based curriculum because it is more creative and addresses their different learning styles, while avoiding the boredom many ADD kids experience with traditional teaching methods. As a result, these kids feel empowered and engage more directly with their education and thus develop increased self-direction and independence in learning. ACLC is offering Information Sessions and School Tours of their program for interested families, see dates/times here: http://www.clcschools.org/page.cfm?p=436 You can also contact the Lead Facilitator (Principal), David Hoopes, for information or request a meeting at: (510) 995-4300 or david.hoopes [at] alamedaclc.org Best of luck in finding the right program for your son! Parent of multiple ACLC kids
We are looking into Tilden Preparatory, Mentoring Academy and the BISP for our highly gifted 9th-grader with ADHD. He is currently in BIHS, but it is an ill fit in all possible ways. He finds the class size and behaviors distracting, and does irrelevant homework. He feels at home in the advanced classes he is taking (Honors Music and French 7-8) and only one of his core classes, and we cannot find a solution for his needs within the school. He is asking for a more intense yet freer learning environment where he can be with other kids who really want to be there and learn. He is enthusiastic about all subjects, but has a special love for science and writing, and a gift for languages (fluent in Eng, Sp, Fr) and music. We have appointments with all three mentioned programs, but need some disinterested opinions about their relative strengths, weaknesses, and fit for such kids. Your input about each program and even better, about how they compare and how you'd rank their fit for a kid like ours, would be most appreciated, especially if you speak from experience.
My daughter attends Tilden Prep. Like your child, she's very bright but also has ADHD. Academically Tilden has been a great fit. The pace is flexible, redundant assignments are avoided. She loves literature and has a lot of choice about the books she reads. The best thing about Tilden is the teachers, they are very smart and knowledgeable. She feels like she is treated like an intellectual equal when having discussions with them. She gets detailed editing and feedback on essays to improve her writing, that wouldn't be possible if a teacher had to edit 30 students' assignments. There is minimal social interaction among students. There are some clubs that meet at lunch time (book club, anime, gaming) and organized community service events. My daughter feels like there are basically two groups of kids, those who are really smart and don't fit in at 'normal' schools and kids who had to leave their schools for drug or other types of violations, but that doesn't have to change the flavor of the positive aspects unless you want it too (those are mostly her words). The flexible schedule is great, she has a whole day a week with no classes to pursue other interests, music ensemble and other hobbies. Overall it's a good fit for an introvert who is comfortable with adults, because the primary interactions are with the instructors in one-on-one class sessions. We are overall quite happy with the support she is getting around her learning differences too. Satisfied Tilden Parent
To the mother who asked about the three choices for her ADHD son, I have had a lot of experience with Tilden Preparatory School; I am the College Counselor for many of their students. I think it's an environment well suited to a student who would do well with ''mastery learning''. The teachers there work one-on-one with their students, learning a unit until the student feels ready to take a test on the material. A student can, therefore, go at his own pace and when he feels he knows the material, he can be tested. The students get to know each other from meeting in the hallways, going for breaks together, or having the same tutor. However, there aren't traditional ''classrooms''. I love working with Tilden students because they range from A - Z in terms of ''types'' and ''backgrounds''. They all experience ''success'' academically, and that turns them into confident and happy individuals. I would highly recommend Tilden if the environment I described suits your son. You are doing the right thing by comparing the three schools; your son will instinctively know which one is best-suited to him. Best of luck with your process. Jan
My son and I love Tilden Prep. We've been there through 11th grade and now part of 12th, struggling with ADHD and other issues. Sorry I cannot compare Tilden with the other schools; I don't know them. My son has not been able to learn in a classroom with other students, getting too distracted and then falling behind and getting into trouble. The Tilden 1:1 ratio of student:teacher has allowed my son to do well for the first time after a long series of other approaches, none of which worked well. He has truly blossomed in the last year, after succeeding with his academic work at long last. I've been hugely impressed by the quality and caring of the teachers I have met, as well as the two school heads. Please feel free to contact me via Tilden if you want further details. Parent of a Tilden Prep Student
My 8th grade daughter was diagnosed with anxiety and info processing disorders and her public school was not making needed accommodations. Long story short, we tried Tilden's Walnut Creek campus and it was godsend. Without the visual/auditory/social distractions found in a typical 33-student class, she was able to learn more, faster due to the one-on-one teaching. The directors have a backgrounds in psychology so they GET kids - whether behind or advanced - just looking for a safe, accredited place to learn. Very positive atmosphere, teachers are stellar. maritess
I'm responding to the parent interested in Tilden Prep compared to BISP and Mentoring Academy. My daughter attended Tilden Prep for three years because even though she is very bright, her test scores weren't reflecting what she knew, no matter how hard she studied, and her grades were starting to slip in 10th grade. She thrived academically and socially at Tilden. She loved her teachers, and felt like they made the courses interesting and also helped her do her best. She even attempted classes she would never have considered at her previous (highly ranked public) school, like high levels of math and science, and she did well in those classes! She is extremely extroverted and social, and had a large group of friends there. She said there are all kinds of kids at Tilden, the students respect each other, and everyone finds one or more student that they get along with. All in all, we were thrilled to have Tilden as an option for our daughter, so was our daughter, and she felt very well prepared for college. Proud Dad of Tilden Grad
Since you didn't receive any input on Independent Study, and since I didn't read the issue in which you originally posted until yesterday, I thought I'd give my thoughts on the matter. My daughter was in BISP for most of high school. It worked out well for her, although we worried that she was isolating herself socially, which was probably more a personality issue than a result of working independently. She learned how to study and write papers, she was able to take classes at Berkeley High that she wanted to take, and she is now a college freshman at an institution that values individuality and intellectual rigor. This is not to say that it was an easy road for her or us - she wouldn't consider private school, and BISP was her choice - but she was successful in school, however you measure that, and we're all pleased with where it has taken her so far. former IS parent
We have experience with both Tilden Prep and Mentoring Academy. Both schools are good at what they do but they work on very different models.
Our oldest child attended Tilden for one year, getting individual instruction from teachers. The directors are both knowledgeable in the education field, and we found the teachers to mostly be good. They are well-prepared in the topics they teach but they are not necessarily trained as teachers. The school seems to work well for students who are motivated and are able to get work done independently. It also allows students who are struggling with a subject to go at a slower pace. Because the classes are one-on-one it can get expensive.
Our younger child attends the new Mentoring Academy. The students take a mix of Mentoring classes and on-line classes. The classes are accredited and meet UC requirements. A wide range of classes is available and students who are ready for more challenging classes take college-level classes. They are at school from 9-5:30, working on their classes, getting individual tutoring, or working with other students on projects. They also participate in various social events. They complete all their work at school and don't have homework. Our child attended a private high school for two years and was a good student, but somewhat bored. At Mentoring he is taking classes that really interest him. The director, John Muster, is a gifted educator. He was well-respected by parents and students as the head of Maybeck High School. He has an amazing rapport with the students. At Mentoring he works closely with the students to make sure that they get the right classes and are actively engaged in their own educations. Mentoring Academy is new and still very small, but I imagine it will grow quickly as the word gets out, and there are plans to add art and other classes. It has been exciting to see our son so engaged in his classes. Even though he does not have homework he sometimes works at home because he is so interested in what he is doing. A Berkeley Parent
Each of the three schools mentioned has strong and effective solutions to meeting the needs of students. All three provide self-paced instruction. This posting is a brief explanation of the features of Mentoring Academy because there are some important differences. Students are expected to be at Mentoring Academy from 9 to 5:30 each day to meet with teacher-mentors, engage in projects with other students, participate in discussions and to complete their individual work. We do not send students home with homework, rather expect them to complete all work with the support and guidance of the mentors on staff and engaged with them during the school day. Evenings are for families, following personal interests, and resting in preparation for the next day. Social, travel, all school and joint events provide for a rich interpersonal life as well as a strong academic environment. Every student is placed at their appropriate level whether it be Advanced Calculus, AP courses, or modules that assist in mastering skills missed in earlier schooling. All courses are mastery, project, self-paced, mentored and engaging. A-G approved courses. The approach is to support individual student mastery, accepting the fact that no two students are alike. John Muster, Director of Mentoring Acadcemy
Thanks to all respondents. Our conclusions:
1. Tilden: respondents indicated their child's happiness and achievement at Tilden, and parental satisfaction with the quality of education there and the attention to individuality. We decided against Tilden due to cost.
2. Mentoring Academy, John Muster: the program is small and new. We visited and met twice with John. Significantly, my son wanted to transfer there after meeting and feeling extremely comfortable with John and the students. I found John's engagement with my son and the other kids to be excellent -- respectful, insightful, and encouraging a reflective and investigative attitude. Different than Tilden in that although each studies on his own, students are on site all day, interacting during breaks, with John and the tutors. We decided not to enroll there, and not for reasons of cost -- it is actually sliding scale. We decided for BISP instead to facilitate our kid's sustained participation in BHS classes and groups he is already involved in.
3. Berkeley Independent Studies Program: Nobody replied about this program, but we researched it and visited many times before eventually deciding in its favor. We met several teachers, the new director Edith Smiley, and observed daily functioning. We were extremely impressed. Run by the school district, so it is free. Designed for students with professional lives (dancers, etc.), parenting obligations, and/or who are very bright but bored in Berkeley High and prefer studying on their own as fast as they wish. Concurrent enrollment with BHS and/or BCC is common and permitted. Students meet once a week with their teachers and work on assignments the rest of the week. There is a full-time tutor and although kids can study wherever they want, they can also spend their entire day at ISP, as they have computers, books, and peace and quiet. Kids who are unmotivated, need constant supervision, or thrive only in large group settings would not do well here, I don't think, as it does require a greater degree of autonomy and curiosity regarding learning. BHS and BISP counselors coordinated the transition, which was bureaucratic but pretty smooth. Our son now takes non-core classes at BHS and core ones at BISP, and is thrilled to be free of the distractions and constraints of large classrooms. I would highly recommend that parents of bright, motivated and quirky kids consider BISP. Vera
Hi!! I'm a mother of a 15 year old son who has a mild case of ADHD, no learning disabilities, just focusing issues. So far I've had no luck with schools accepting him because of his grades, and because of his focusing issue his grades suffer. Funding is also another issue. When you are a new student to a specialized school they designate money to current students and can only give so much to new students.
I've been trying to help my son for a very, very, very long time and I am running out of ideas, places to go, people to talk to about the whole situation. I don't know how to help my son anymore. It's beyond after school programs, even if they are great. The problem lies within and during his schooling and I need a specialized place that can really give him what he needs and accommodate his social skills as well.
Exhausted Mom needs help! Thanks for any suggestions, advise or opinion you're able to give to me. RG Loving Mom
Our son also has inattentive ADHD but is out of HS now. I know how hard it is as a parent to try, to keep trying and hoping.. I've never felt that there's a good fit out there for kids like ours in the academic arena, at least and surprisingly not around the East Bay. Academia has never come easily for our son, although very smart - and was very difficult to navigate for all of us. No school has ever been quite right. A lot of heartache with some good moments in between..If money was no object, Drew in SF, has a good program for kids with LD. They do seem to encourage one's individuality, dedicated to each kid's learning style while instilling good work habits and desire. Perhaps they have a decent scholarship program and can see through his grades.. (which are such poor reflections of our kid's)..
Tilden Preparatory School, in Albany, seems good, they try very hard to accommodate all kids. For some, reduced class size is utterly important, engaging those with inattentive issues. Your son might get lost at Berkeley High, but it could work out well. Bottom line is, these kids need structural support, even though it's hard for them to take it. At BHS, additional tutors and organizational helpers can make a big difference. Our son ended up at CPS - totally the wrong place. Lots of lip service, they really didn't get how out of the box he was. (very narrow norm there)
There aren't many good choices for our lovely kids with LD's, but in the end, they have to want to get the help we've made available for them. If BHS is the place, then build structure around it to help navigate through their uber political, chaotic, but very exciting environment. Keep eyes open for bullying and a system very lax in addressing it. I wish you a lot strength, perseverance and some good luck. Lisa
Does he have an IEP? If he doesn't then you can request an assesment from the school district, put it in writing I can't stress that enough! the district has 30 days to respond. Also there's an organization in Berkeley, DREDF they are an excellent resource. You can Google ''DREDF'' and it'll pop up. Best of luck & don't give up. cmr
I completely understand your frustration. My 17 ADD son has been to 7 schools trying to find one that worked for him. I had really good results at Envision Academy in Oakland. It is a public charter school focused on getting graduates preparred to get into college. They have an advisory period every day and must complete all work during and after school. This worked well for my son who didn't do well with homework or managing his own time. Unfortunately, he begged me to put him back in his old school with his friends, and I did. I was really happy with Envision, although my son was only there for a semester, so I really can't speak to the social environment or extra curricular activities. Anon
Have you looked into Bayhill High School on Bowden Way in Oakland? Bayhill is a small highschool for kids with learning issues, ADD, etc. My son is a junior at Bayhill and it is the PERFECT school for him. The staff ''gets'' these kids and they know how to teach them appropriately. I dont' know how the financial aid works after the fact, but it's worth checking into to see. We've gotten financial aid every year so far. Bayhill will let your son come and ''shadow'' for a day so he can get a feel for it. Good luck. Their office # is: 268-1500 (510) Feel free to e-mail me if you have further questions about Bayhill. june
Have you checked out Holden High School in Orinda? www.holdenhigh.org It's a small, alternative school with tiny classes, great support and academically sound. I spent three years there as a teacher and counselor several decades ago and know quite a few successful young adults who were previously my students.
I would highly encourage you to contact Holden High School in Orinda. http://holdenhigh.org/who-we-are/our-mission 925-254-0199
This very small school is amazing and truly is committed to working with kids who have struggled in school for any number of reasons. Their approach is non traditional with the goal of helping each student find success and graduate. Many of the administration/staff at Holden have worked there a long time and continue to do so because they are committed to helping teens who need and benefit from staff who genuinely get who teens are. Give them a call and make an appointment to go visit. They will put you in touch with parents like me who will be happy to tell you more about our experience there. Good luck. I hope this will work for you as it did for us. A parent who understands
I'm sorry to hear that you have been struggling all by yourself. Please don't be discouraged. There are a lot of helps out there. IEP is one way to get school district to help you. Besides that, you can find a good education consultant who specializes in finding matching schools/education for special needed students. They do cost a lot, but it worth the money. We got great help from Bodin. You may research this form, some parents have other recommendations. Good luck! another loving parent
Looking for high school in the Bay Area that accommodates a student with ADHD. I've been to Orinda Academy, Bay Hill and Holden. They are all great schools to check out!! I just want to make sure I'm not missing any other schools. Thanks!
My son has been at Springstone since 6th grade. He is going into 11th grade now, and is doing so much better than he was. He's been diagnosed with a bunch of things, probably bipolar, but certainly not Asperger's, which is what a lot, but not all, of the kids at Springstone have. They also admit kids with bipolar, ADHD, etc. so you should check it out. Classes are a maximum of eight, and they work on computers almost exclusively and are taught to organize their thoughts using computer tools. They have an Occupational Therapist on staff who teaches them techniques to siphon off all that extra energy appropriately. Let me know if you have any questions. HL
Hi - I would add Tilden Preparatory School to your list. My son has AD/HD and attended there last semester when he was overwhelmed at his highly academic/competitive public school. It is a wonderful supportive environment for all types of students and tries to help kids learn organizational skills without penalizing them for executive functioning weaknesses. The teaching is usually one-on-one or sometimes small groups. Kids get to focus on the course content without getting overwhelmed by the busy work that some high schools require. Grateful mom
My smart, social daughter is in 9th grade at Albany High, but she was found to have ADD and doesn't do her homework so they want to send her to MacGregor, the continuation school. Can anyone comment who has a kid at the new location? It sounds like the program has improved but I'm still worried. I'd much prefer she go to Holden or Orinda Academy, but she insists she wants to stay in Albany. Frustrated mom
Dear Mom of ADD girl - I too have an undiagnosed teen with ADD or ADHD - I too have been in a very stressful local school district - close to yours actually - I decided NOT to go through the districts ''testing'' or ''classification'' programs - I had her tested myself and realized that I as her Mom knew her better than anyone did anyway - she is distracted and needs someone to keep her focused - what did I do - TUTORS TUTORS TUTORS - we now have a great group of women who help her IN OUR HOME and she LOVES THEM AND LOVES THE 1 on 1 attention - GET HER A TUTOR fast - there is a great group in our area called STUDY SMARTER - they have a website - ask for Joel and get started even now before school is over - HELP your girl help herself and give her what our parents probably never could or recoginized - because for sure either you or her dad have ADD too - Best of Luck and sell your soul to get her a tutor who can work with her and give her the kind of encouragement she deserves and LEAVE HER WITH her friends and let her stay calm, happy and supported - don't move to the alternative school - those are just for the ones who are really bad off or parents just can't deal with them at home (or don't want to) - write me back on a post if you can't find Study Smarter - I have used many tutors and services and they are THE BEST by far maddie
My daughter also has ADD and attends Orinda Academy, which can be a good fit if the student needs support turning work in on time, etc. But I really encourage you to keep your daughter at Albany HS if she is happy there, doing OK academically, and has a good social network. You can always seek homework help and tutoring, but you can't buy friendship or self-esteem. I'm not familiar with the continuation high school, but the change could really really affect her in a negative way. I'd fight to keep my daughter with her friends. Parent advocate
We have our daughter's IEP this month, and the district will recommend high schools for her, either public or private. She has ADHD, learning disabilities, and some emotional/self esteem problems that cause her to shut down if she feels unable to do the required school work. We are investigating Orion Academy, Contra Costa Alternative School, Le Cheim in Richmond, Arrowsmith (probably too academic) and we live in the Oakland High School district. Does anyone out there have any other ideas, or have any observations about the schools listed above? Thanks.
My son is a full inclusion student in Oakland schools and we are looking too at high schools next year. I don't have experience with the private schools you mentioned and Oakland didn't offer private placement. Oakland asked us to visit Skyline, Oakland Tech (our neighborhood school) and Far West. I have an appointment to visit Oakland Tech and will bring my son with me. I am trying to make appointments at Far West and waiting for someone at Skyline to contact me.
Last year I called Dr. Ann Parker about high schools. Her schedule is so busy that she didn't have time to meet with us but email me about options. Note: She knew my son when she was with Pediatric Medical Group.
My advise is to visit the sites suggested and of course talk to parents in their program. I always brought a close friend with me to see if what I saw and heard was what she saw and heard. Now that my son is older he is involved in his IEP and in the decision about which high school to attend. Not knowing all the details of your child's IEP, you need to decide which program will meet the needs of your child. Good luck. Doreen
Would you please forward my email address to the person who asked about alternative high schools? The description of their teen sounds very much like one of my daughters who is doing well at Arrowsmith. I previously wrote about Arrowsmith, and those comments are archived. I would be glad to share our experiences that might help these parents.
We are beginning the search early for a high school for a 7th grade girl who now attends a small school for children with learning and emotional problems. A large public high school will not work for her. We have heard recently of two schools that seem possible. One is Contra Costa Alternative school in Orinda, and the other is Orion Academy in Moraga, a new school just starting up. One seems to stress emotional and social needs, the other non-verbal learning disabilities. We are dealing with both, as well as ADHD. Is anyone familiar with either school? Any other suggestions?
There is a school in S.F. to look into. It's free...it's a charter school...and I understand it's good. They take some kids with learning differences and/of ADHD, and kids who what a different kind of high school experience. It's Gateway School. I don't have the phone number with me. From what I understand it's based on the ideas of Dr. Mel Levine and Howard Gardner.An MD I know sends his son there and speaks highly of it. (He lives in the East Bay). Rona (April 2001)
Hello to Anon. My son transferred this year from BHS to Contra Costa Alternative school in Orinda. I'd be happy to tell you of our experiences (90% positive) there.....write me and we can talk ....same offer to any other parents who might need a school very "therapeutic", alternative (i.e., not heavily academic, very tolerant of anti-authoritarian beliefs) and low-pressure oriented.. best, Lisa
Spraings Academy in Walnut Creek recently moved to a new campus and has been in existence for about thirty years - educating children with special needs from 2nd grade through 12th grade. Also, The Raskob Institute in Oakland is developing a high school that is scheduled to be open by Fall 2002. I've personally checked out all of the above. Rosa