Finding the Right School For Your Child: What to Ask While Visiting Schools When Your Child Has a Learning Difference

January 12, 2023

When you’re on the hunt for the right high school for a student with learning differences, you need answers about more than courses, clubs, and college acceptances. You also have to investigate whether – and how – each school will empower your child to succeed in college and in life. Here are three questions that should help you determine whether a school is a good fit for your child.

  1. Are all faculty trained in current methods for teaching students with learning differences? 

    • We know that students with learning differences benefit most when every single one of their teachers understands their diagnosis. Even if a school educates only one child out of a thousand who learns differently, we believe every teacher ought to be prepared to adapt their teaching style and teach in non-traditional formats. Feel free to ask an admission officer whether that’s the case and how the school makes it happen.

      At Forman School, we invest heavily in professional development for our teachers, equipping them to meet students exactly where they are in their learning. In our Cognition and Learning Department, teachers are trained and certified in a variety of methods, including the Strategic Instruction Model, ADHD and executive function coaching, and multisensory structured reading programs, such as Orton Gillingham, Wilson, and Lindamood-Bell. Our faculty also work to identify appropriate assistive technologies for students with learning differences.

      Click here to read more about assistive technology at Forman.

      Raise the question of professional development at the start of your research. For parents of a student with a learning difference, the answer can be vital to your ultimate decision.

  2. Will my child be able to participate fully in academics and student life?

    • What you can really uncover with this question is how inclusive and mainstream a school’s program is. At many schools, students with learning differences may be pulled out of regular academic classes. They may also miss out on extracurriculars and be separated from group activities. 

      At Forman, we prioritize inclusion. Students aren’t pulled out of class. They aren’t separated from their peers. They aren’t labeled. Moreover, we weave learning strategies and support into the whole student experience: academics, athletics, arts, and campus life. Our students are not defined by their learning differences. Instead, they are free to form an identity built on their talents, passions, and interests in a safe community where everyone can grow. That’s what high school should be all about – for all types of learners.

      Once you’re confident that a school has the learning support your child needs in all aspects of school life, browse the school’s curriculum guide and skim the lists of sports teams, clubs, and student organizations together. If a few options from each pique their curiosity, your student is in good shape to embark on a mainstream college prep experience. 

  3. When it comes to preparing for college, does the school address the unique needs of students with learning differences? If so, how?

    • As difficult as it is to find a high school, imagine the college search. There are so many more choices to consider, more essays to write, and more forms to complete. All students need guidance. Students with learning differences need even more. Make sure the high schools you look at are aware of the unique challenges faced by students with diagnosed learning differences and listen for how they plan to keep your college applicant on track.

It’s also important to think of college prep as more than taking the right courses and standardized tests. Forman’s College Counseling Office, along with the entire faculty, equips students with effective tools and strategies to become more self-aware and self-reliant. Students learn to advocate for themselves rather than depend on others (such as their mom and dad) to speak for them. To possess these skills and be able to apply them in a college setting are critical parts of what we think of as college prep. A boarding school such as Forman is in a great position to prepare students to live away from home. That experience makes the transition to a residential college that much easier. Whether you’re looking for a boarding school or a day school option, listen for a more holistic view of what college prep means.

Click here to learn more about Forman’s approach to college prep.

Written by: Jaime Feinman, Director of Admission

Click here to take the next step in learning more about Forman School.

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