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Reflections on ADHD, Schooling, and the US vs. Europe

Since moving to Europe and enrolling my daughter in International School here, I have reflected a lot on the differences in education between my daughter's current school and her experiences in US public education. I can't help but notice how much less confining my daughter's school is than an American public high school. Her schedule is more like a college schedule. Each day begins at a different time and ends at a different time, depending on which classes are that day. There are fewer, longer classes periods, so that work is not interrupted. On one day, for instance, she has only French and history. There is homework, yes, but so much less testing. If my daughter's day does not start until 10 a.m., then she does not have to arrive at school until 10 a.m. If she has a free period or a lunch, she is welcome to leave campus. Also, because of excellent biking trails, she is able to bike to school, so her mind is energized by 45 minutes of exercise before school ever starts.

My daughter's opinion of school is far more positive than it was in the United States. More freedom of choice means less resistance and rebellion. For the first time in years, she is setting academic goals and meeting them. This week, she scored a 7 out of 7 on a history test, the only person in the class to do so. She is declaring her intention of getting all 7s on her IB exams next year. I couldn't be more pleased. I wish the United States could learn from Europe and loosen up the rigidity of the schedule, ditch a lot of the testing, and give the kids some space to grow, develop, and express themselves as individuals. I feel that so many things might have been different for my kids if they had grown up in Europe. The anxiety, the depression, the feelings of worthlessness -- perhaps they all could have been avoided.

And executive dysfunction? That really can get better, when the environment is better. My daughter's hardly "shows" anymore.

Wishing all of your kids an environment where they can grow and prosper!

When was in high school my son said that school would be much better if class periods were longer.

Hi Madere, thanks for this post.. My sister (in her 50's) has lived in France for 5 years. The pace is different. She has lived in the countryside in a very small village so she doesn't know about schools or cities. I'm just saying that for some people making a big well-considered change, i.e.not impulsive :), is possible. Thank you for observations and reflections on a different way of life.