Looking for a boarding school that will help support your student with ADHD? It’s important to understand there are many resources available to address ADHD, as well as ways to find the best schools for ADHD. Whether you choose a local private school or a day/boarding school like Army and Navy Academy, choosing the right private school to address ADHD can be critical to short-term and long-term success.   An education with support services suited to specific needs allows students to thrive academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. Finding the best boarding school for kids with ADHD will affect your child’s ability to gain admission to college, pursue a career of interest, and live happy productive lives. 

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adhdSigns and Symptoms of ADHD

First and foremost, know that you are not alone. At Army and Navy Academy, there is no stigma to this diagnosis. We see it everyday and embrace the talents and abilities of students with ADHD.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood.”  If you have a son, perhaps you are facing a crisis in his education as the numbers of boys with ADHD continue to grow.  However, ADHD affects both boys and girls and it is important to watch for the signs.  If you are wondering about the signs of ADHD, check this list below to see if any or all apply to your child or teen. You might even discover these symptoms may even apply to you or other adults in your life.  Mayo Clinic’s list of symptoms of ADHD include: “impulsiveness, disorganization and problems prioritizing, poor time management skills, problems focusing on a task, trouble multitasking, excessive activity or restlessness, poor planning, low frustration tolerance, frequent mood swings, problems following through and completing tasks, hot temper, and trouble coping with stress.”

5 Reasons to Choose a Boarding School for ADHD

In researching private schools, look beyond the core curricula and check the full suite of programs and support services offered at private schools for ADHD. Although many families might feel their teen is not ready to live away from home while attending middle school or high school, attending a boarding school does provide a 24/7 immersive experience that can sometimes address ADHD more fully.  But you may still be asking whether a “boarding school for ADHD is a good choice for my child?” Here are 5 compelling reasons to consider a boarding school to support your child with ADHD.      

       1. Interactive and Engaging Academics:

  • Learning Strategies – Some boarding schools offer a special program or a class to support students with ADHD. Learning Strategies programs are a means to provide ADHD students with additional help with time management, study habits, stress management, and receive additional help with homework and classroom projects. Typically, the learning strategies teacher has a specialized degree and has received special training to administer and do assessments. They also work with faculty closely and may “push into” classrooms to support students enrolled in their Learning Strategies program.
  • Counseling ServicesTeenagers with ADHD often require some social and emotional support as they may have experienced isolation, frustration, anger management, and other stressors due to their ADHD. ADHD boarding schools typically have a counseling department to address social/emotional issues, academic scheduling, and college planning services. 
  • Executive Function EmphasisBoarding schools for ADHD are ideally equipped to help middle and high school students improve executive functioning. According to Harvard, “Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.”  Some boarding schools, in particular, military schools offer a highly structured schedule to help students with ADHD set goals, establish priorities, and create life balance.  
  • Hands-on LearningStudents with ADHD often learn best when they are mentally engaged. Look for a boarding school where interactive lessons are a mainstay and where students have an opportunity to work in teams, do hands-on projects, and learn real-world skills. 
  • Career Oriented Electives ADHD students may suffer from low self-esteem, so confidence is often boosted when they have a chance for special recognition and success in areas of interest. Boarding schools  geared for students with ADHD may offer electives in areas such as: aviation, cyber security, computer science, game development, video production, and visual and performing arts. 
  • Caring and supportive faculty – In general, boarding schools offer a level of support not commonly found in most schools. The faculty may offer after school tutorials, evening office hours with faculty, supervised study time, and college planning services. This is ideal for students with ADHD to get the extra support needed for academic success.

       2. Fun and Dynamic Co-Curriculars:

  • Physical Fitness and SportsTeens with ADHD need life balance and being physically active can relieve stress and help them perform better in class. Look for a boarding school near you with a robust sports and fitness program as this will help address and alleviate stress. It also provides an area where a student can shine outside of academics. 
  • Clubs and Activities – Beyond academics, kids with ADHD need to have fun and face new challenges. Make sure you check out the clubs and activities at boarding schools that are aligned with your teenager’s extracurricular interests. Boarding schools typically offer an array of clubs based on student interest. Clubs may include: aviation/drones, forensics, gardening, painting, circuit python, game design, and sports medicine. 
  • Weekend Trips – To bring lessons to life and ignite a love of learning, students with ADHD need a chance to visit new places and put lessons into action. Going off campus helps them build confidence in their ability to try new things and learn from more direct experiences. Many boarding schools offer weekend trips, including experiences in outdoor education, cultural awareness, and community service projects. 
  • International Trips – Traveling abroad can boost resiliency and independence. This really helps students with ADHD gain more skills in navigating new environments and learning new things outside the classroom. Many boarding schools offer trips abroad during spring breaks. They are often quite educational and often include lessons on culture, history, languages, and may even include service projects.3. Chances to Shine in Leadership 
  • Leadership Training ADHD students need a chance to take the lead. Some boarding schools have a strong focus on leadership training. For instance, Army and Navy Academy, a boarding school for boys in San Diego county models their training after the top service academies like West Point (USMA) and Annapolis USNA). 
  • Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) – Sometimes overlooked or misunderstood, military boarding schools with JROTC programs offer stellar leadership and character development. Leadership education training classes (LET) focus on learning life skills with the objective of building strong citizens. This is a great way for students with ADHD to improve self-esteem.. 
  • Associated Student Body (ASB) – To be a class officer can help teens with ADHD forge new skills as they manage and direct campus projects such as dances, special events, and service projects. It also enhances executive function skills as they learn how to manage people, projects, and adhere to deadlines. 

       4. Way to Enhance Character Development

  • School Values – As you check out boarding schools, look for schools aligned with your spiritual or religious values. For example, at Army and Navy Academy, their core values include: honor, integrity, respect, responsibility, compassion, and gratitude. Values and character development programs help teens and kids with ADHD develop a personal moral compass as they navigate decisions and choices.  
  • School Assemblies – Most boarding schools integrate core values into all aspects of campus life and may even hold special assemblies or presentations on character and value-related topics. 
  • Service Projects – ADHD students can benefit from community service projects. Rather than look inward at their own personal issues, community service helps students understand the challenges and adversity other people are facing. This can lead to greater compassion for themselves and others.

       5. Mentorship and Guidance 

  • Mentorship – More than ever, our youth need mentorship and guidance. Boarding schools have residential life staff that help students navigate after-school activities, including: sports, fitness, clubs, nutrition, hygiene, mental health, study time, and weekend activity choices.  
  • Guidance – The staff at private schools like Army and Navy Academy take a personal interest in every student under their care and often play an instrumental role in the development of goals, life skills and good life habits. 


5 Tips in Picking the Best Boarding School for ADHD

If you are wondering how to find the right private school, think about your private school or boarding school preferences, including: 

  • Coeducational, All-Boys or All-Girls
  • Desired Location – Local or regional 
  • Boarding School or Private Day School* 
  • Grade Levels – K-6, K-8, K-12, Middle School, High School or Grades 7-12
  • Denominational or Nondenominational 
  • Type of programs offered based on your teen’s interests (e.g. clubs, sports)

*Most boarding schools offer a day option. Sometimes students begin as a day student and then switch over to boarding based on their readiness.  Beyond your core preferences, you are now ready to check school and directory websites. After you narrow your list, contact the admission office at boarding schools to address questions, schedule a campus tour, and complete the application process.  

Best Schools for Students with ADHD

To find the best ADHD boarding school, we recommend the following sites: 

  • The Association of Boarding Schools – Boardingschool.com 
  • Boarding School Review (boarding schools) 
  • Private School Review (day and boarding schools) 
  • Niche (rankings, reviews, and overviews) 
  • Great Schools (rankings, reviews, and overviews) 
  • Western Boarding School Association (WBSA) and other regional associations
  • AMCSUS (military academies / military schools)
  • School Websites (after you narrow your list) 

Questions? At Army and Navy Academy, we are committed to public service. This means, if we are not the right fit, we will make an effort to help you find the right school for your teen.. Feel free to contact us with questions at 888.762.2338.