ADHD is a neurological disorder that can have a negative impact on the way a student learns. And around 11 percent of all students in the US have some form of ADHD, although many go undiagnosed. We recently sat down with administrators at Currey Ingram Academy in Brentwood, Tennessee, one of the only private schools in the region designed for students with learning differences. They gave us a great deal of information about the disorder and specific interventions the school uses to help its students succeed.
Q: Good afternoon. We appreciate you taking time out to speak with us today. We would like to discuss ADHD, and specifically what it is and how it impacts a student’s ability to learn.
Currey Ingram: We are pleased to be here. ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a neurological disorder. It affects a student’s ability to focus, plan, and execute common tasks, such as completing a homework assignment. Students with ADHD present with an array of symptoms and no two students are exactly alike.
Q: What are some of the symptoms of ADHD?
Currey Ingram: One of the most obvious is diminished impulse control. A student with ADHD might, for example, regularly speak out of turn. They may also have poor time management skills and find it difficult to sit still, even when it is appropriate to do so. Private schools, like our campus in Brentwood, that work with learning different students, have many intervention options that can help these young learners thrive in an academic setting.
Q: Can you give us a few examples of these intervention strategies?
Currey Ingram: We start by focusing on the student’s strengths, and then making accommodations to match. We also believe strongly in positive behavioral support. Our teachers and staff make a point to develop and nurture healthy relationships with each student. We greet each and every scholar as they come into class. Our classroom teachers also have the discretion to provide flexible seating and what we like to call “brain breaks,” which help our students avoid information overload.
Q: Do private schools offer access to remedial classes for students who might struggle in certain areas?
Currey Ingram: Our Brentwood campus certainly does. We can provide support in all areas, including math, language, and reading. We can also help our students achieve their very best by extending the time they have to take tests; many students with ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning disorders need a few extra minutes.
Q: How is test-taking at Currey Ingram different than at a public school?
Currey Ingram: In most public schools, students are tested on knowledge at the end of the study unit. At our private school in Brentwood, you might find students taking many smaller quizzes throughout the semester. Some students may even be permitted to complete their tests and/or homework using a speech-to-text application, which is faster and more efficient. This is a valuable accommodation for students with ADHD.
Q: What advice would you give our readers who are researching private schools for their middle and high school students with ADHD?
Currey Ingram: We would start by inviting them to our Brentwood location to tour the campus. If they are not local or if getting to Nashville is not practical, we would say to look for a school where the teachers model social-emotional learning and offer plenty of support to their students.
Q: Currey Ingram also offers a boarding school option. How are students supported outside of the classroom?
Currey Ingram: Our Brentwood campus is unique among private schools in that we do offer a boarding option starting in ninth grade. For these students, we take their learning outside of the classroom. Sometimes, this also involves lifestyle changes that are proven beneficial based on the child’s unique ADHD symptoms. We also work diligently to make sure that our students have ample time for sleep and physical activity.
Q: That is very interesting. We would have never considered their out-of-classroom activities as having an impact on their academic performance.
Currey Ingram: They do, absolutely. You have to understand that ADHD is not something that a child only lives with during school hours. It is something they must learn to manage around the clock, and certain activities, like binge-watching TV and all-day gaming marathons, do more harm than good. We are not saying that these kids do not have free time to pursue their own interests, only that certain activities are limited. All of our students – not just those with ADHD – are encouraged to socialize with their peers and get involved with one of our many inclusive programs, whether that is athletics, cheerleading, photography, art, or video production.
For more information on Currey Ingram Academy has to offer, visit CurreyIngram.org