Medication or... I don't know!


Not sure where to start…

My Daughter (7yo) was diagnosed ADHD. Very likely we’ll be offered methylphenidate (UK). I’ve heard lots of positive things, but I have a lingering ‘fear’ that something like home schooling would be a reasonable alternative.

She has a huge range of intense interests, none (or almost none) of which are being met at school. I think the meds will allow her to participate at school, and she can achieve her potential in that context.

My fear comes from the huge change to our lives that home schooling would entail, vs. ‘fitting in’ with the ‘easy option’.

Don’t know what to do.


Hey there! I’m an ADHDer who’s *homeschooled so free to ask questions if you have any :grin:

*i also attend a Co-op school, and I’m also open to talking about that!


You could probably do a trial period of both to help you decide. The trial run of home school activities perhaps would work best during the summer.


Perhaps there is a third option. Home schooling with medication. If medication helps in school then it should help at home. As you most likely know, someone with ADHD typically has difficulties with paying attention, working memory, frustration tolerance, impulse control (etc.). All of those things can be helped with the right medication. My son, now an adult, is successful in all aspects of his life, as a father, husband, and electrical engineer. Without medication (along with coaching, tutoring, and daily support) things would not have turned out so well. Of that I am certain.

Anyway, perhaps some food for thought . . .

Best of luck!


My boy was diagnosed at about 10. We had already moved him to a school that was more focused on individual development because of the issues that he was having coping in the main stream schooling system. They spent large amounts of time figuring out what he needed to be able to engage in the educational process. And essentially developed practices around what was going to get him to thrive. Things like moving subjects like english into a technology or science framework so he could learn the skills needed to get through english but wrapped up in a subject he was interested in and good at.

We in the end decided to follow the medication avenue. Also this added another level of benefit because it also allowed him the relief from his ADHD symptoms to develop developmentally appropriate levels of social development and let him catch up to his peers academically.

He has just finished his first year of high school and has passed all of his subjects some with very good marks. I honestly do think that at the point in his life he was diagnosed without him going to the independent school he would have still had trouble getting to where he is now. The staff at that school had the time and skills to develop him and in main stream schools here in Australia they just don’t have that. But also i think without medication he would have had trouble getting back on track. And continued to have problems interacting with his peers possibly leading to loneliness and developing a dislike of education because school would have been a place of isolation and unhappiness.

ADHD medications in children are very heavily studied for efficacy and safety. They are well tolerated and highly effective but just like everyone else dosage and choice of medication and delivery method play a roll in the balance of side effects and how well the medication works.

I also think that home schooling is very complicated. We looked into it also and had similar worries about disruption to our lives and how it might effect his development of interpersonal skills and if we as parents could even effectively deliver the academic portion of his education. In the end the deciding factor for us was that the teachers he had that where highly skilled and had years of experience developing strategies to move kids forward still thought that medication would benefit our boy. If they had trouble getting him on track we would likely struggle. We decided that the best position for us to be in was to be his parents first not being the front line and leaving that to the people that know their trade. We instead put our energy into advocating for him when we needed to and putting a frame work in place that allowed him to achieve.

This is a bit harder in main stream high school because of the reasons mentioned earlier. One of the things we have put in place is he dose not do any homework outside of assignments required for assessment and thats because he just dose not have the capacity at the end of a school day to deliver it all.

Medications and mode of schooling and allowances made because of ADHD are all just tools to be used to get the best outcomes for the kids. I think ruling out validated options of any kind to get the best outcome is counter productive. Its a case of finding the best balance of these tools based on individual needs of the kids and your family’s needs is the key. And its hard sometimes very hard but every dollar and minute spent now will pay dividends down the track.

It was hard for me to come to grips with his challenges and overcoming the guilt and fear around medication and specialist modes of education and moving away from the thought process of what dose this mean about me or how it reflects on me and focusing on the minority of negative outcomes that can arise from any of these options. And really looking deeply into the science and evidence around different options.

For us medication has provided a key tool in raising a happy well adjusted boy but alone would have not been as effective as a mixed mode approach. Don’t get me wrong if it was the only option it would have been much much better than doing nothing. And remember that the situation and options are fairly dynamic and just because you make one decision now that you can always assess it and change your mind. Trying out different strategies is the only way to know if they are going to work out.

In the end no one really knows you kids as well as you do. Others will have opinions based on their perspective and skills and should be taken into account if they have relevant qualification to have an opinion and filtering the thoughts and opinions of others is not only a scientific but emotional task that can have impacts on relationships and interactions with the people around you.

Sorry for the long long post but this subject is one that i have lived and I understand the very real struggle that you are going through. I could rant on for hundreds of pages about this subject.

If you want to chat or would like any more information or details around what we did feel free to reach out .

And remember whatever you decide that your just trying to figure out whats the best for your little ones. There is really no instruction manual for kids



I struggled in school, particularly primary school, because it really didn’t suit the way my brain operates. It was bad enough that the teachers thought I had some sort of learning disability, but when my parents took me to see a child psychologist they found out that I was very smart, but bored out of my skull. If we had the awareness of ADHD that we had now, I dare say he might have picked it up then, but ce’st la vie.

Naturally, I was worried how my nieces and nephews would go at school, given my own experience and noting how similar they are to me. But I’ve noticed that state schools here in Australia have taken a lot of cues from the Montessori approach to learning, which is a huge improvement over the almost military approach of traditional school education.

I can’t really explain Montessori very well, except that it’s a lot less rigid and much more about providing opportunities for kids to learn, rather than forcing them to do so. Superficially, it looks somewhat like Steiner schools, but where Steiner tends to be completely freeform and thus utterly unsuitable for a whole lot of kids (I’m sure there are some that benefit from it, mind), Montessori provides enough structure that the kids learn what they need to.

I’ve often felt that it would have been a great type of schooling for me, and my suspicion is that it’s probably more suitable for ADHDers than traditional education.

Have a dig around and see what schools offer Montessori-type education in your area, hopefully state schools. Dig through a bit of the research on the subject and see what the teachers or principals have to say on the matter. I don’t know how the UK system works in terms of being able to choose a school, but there may be particular accommodations for ADHD that give you greater flexibility.

Personally, I’d keep home schooling as a last resort. It’s a huge investment in time and energy on your part, and you’ll both miss out on the other aspects of school, like learning how to socialise with people you don’t much like, making friends, belonging to school sports and activities, that sort of thing. But that’s just me - I’ve no doubt it worked out very well for plenty of people.

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she’ll be fine for sure, i hope i got medicine when i was younger, school would have gotten better for me, even making friends and such would have been easier if i had meds cause it would have helped me have a better state in general. i’d say try school at first. but yeah either way she’ll be fine getting the help she needs.


When we where looking at schooling options we looked at Steiner, Montessori and the schooling system we ended up with is based around integral education.

It is a little bit hippy dippy for me but the framework the teachers work in is what made it great for my boy.

We had the same thoughts about Steiner being a little bit to free reign for what he needed. And the Montessori school locally actually turned out to be a little elitist in the fact that they believed that their school was not the place for him once they where aware of the challenges he was having. This probably isn’t the case with all of them but where we lived it was a small school with plenty of people who could afford the very pricey fees so they seemed to be heading in the direction of a performance school. Thats not a complaint about them. It’s their school and they where honest about it I just found it surprising and worth mentioning.

But in my opinion all of the above options are many times better for an ADHD kid than what most public schools currently offer.




I wish her good luck !

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Thanks all so much for the great information! I’m a bit overwhelmed! I’ll take my time to go through all the detailed responses. Really, truely grateful for this outpouring of ideas and support!



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