Sending My Kids (With ADHD) Back to Public School Was a Disaster

a teenager leans her head on her hands, looking gloomy

After homeschooling for six years, we decided to send our kids to public school for a few months last year. During those few months, we saw them change. Unfortunately, it was not for the better.

We originally thought that public school would be a positive change, especially since we have been handling their ADHD without medication. As we observed them, however, we realized that sending our children to public school had actually made their ADHD worse. Here’s how.

Why We Sent Our Kids Back to Public School

The main reason we sent the kids to public school was so that I could get a chance to finish my last semester of college in relative peace. My course load was heavy, and I really wanted to maintain my strong GPA.

But there was another reason that we thought public school would be good for our kids—their ADHD. After doing a lot of reading on the disorder, my husband and I thought that the children would benefit from following a strict routine in which they were accountable for their assignments. Most books on ADHD strongly encourage routines and accountability.

We reasoned that public school offered both of those things, so our children’s lives would improve if we made the change. We were wrong.

How Public School Affected My Children with ADHD

Sending My Kids (With ADHD) Back to Public School Was a DisasterIn some ways, public school made our children’s days more consistent. They had to get up at the same time everyday. They had to follow the same after-school routine every afternoon. And they had to go to bed at the same time every night.

But this schedule left them almost no time to just be. I was constantly rushing them:

  • hurry up and get dressed in the morning (at 6:15 a.m.)
  • hurry up and finish their snack
  • hurry up and finish their homework
  • hurry up and eat their dinner
  • hurry up and get ready for bed

I barely had time to talk with them, much less relax or play with them.

Worse, their behavior became noticeably more rebellious. Our youngest son, who is the most hyperactive, turned into a veritable volcano after school. He was so wound up from trying to control himself during the day, that he bounced around the house like a ping-pong ball. As the school year went on, his relationship with his classmates devolved and he began getting into altercations — both physical and verbal.

My oldest son, who has limbic ADD, already struggles with lack of sleep and low energy levels. He found it almost impossible to get out of bed in the morning without crying. His attitude and his performance in class went downhill.

But my oldest daughter, who was in fourth grade, had the worst time of all. Even though she was reading at a tenth grade level, she didn’t do well on the school's standardized tests and was placed in a special needs class where the behavior of the other students served as a constant distraction. In addition, she was bullied by other kids especially when she performed well on an assignment. She was miserable the entire time which broke my heart.

It’s true that some children with ADHD/ADD thrive in public school. And, if I had consented to medication, the transition to public school may not have been as difficult. But we decided to bring them back home, where we can customize their education to fit them instead of medicating a change in them to receive the education.

So far, they’ve improved academically, socially, and behaviorally. Sending my kids to public school made their ADHD worse, but deciding to homeschool them again has helped them manage it much better.

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SelenaAbout the Author

Selena is a homeschooling graduate and a veteran homeschooling mother of four, including three with ADHD. She and her husband, Jay, use an eclectic homeschooling approach to encourage their children to learn throughout their lives. Selena blogs about her family's homeschooling adventures every week at Look! We're Learning!