Recommendation for prep school for student with learning disabilities and in need of financial aidptrp

This might diverge from the typical post asking for school recommendations here, but you all were so helpful when I was my daughter was applying for prep school that I thought I’d see if anyone has advice to offer.

Short story: I am looking for a private school for my son who has developmental dyspraxia. The primary areas he needs support are organization, working memory, fine motor skills, and motor planning. He also needs about 80% financial aid.

Long story: My son is in eighth grade and has probably needed to be on an iep from the beginning but the school refused to do any testing because he was working at grade level academically. He was on the honor roll before this year but his teachers before this year said he needed a lot of support to get him there- extra time, extra practice, graphic organizers for everything, access to a quiet working environment. This year his teachers are the sink-or-swim type and his grades dropped. He is now being tested for learning disabilities (that is the sanitized version, a lot of tears, sleepless nights, and lawyers were involved). He may have an iep by the end of this year that includes the supports his teachers in earlier grades gave him, along with ability to use voice dictation for essays and note-taking. But he will also have a transcript filled with Cs and Ds for 8th grade.

Depending on the plan for ninth grade, my son will either continue in the school district for ninth grade with a good iep in place, or repeat 8th grade with a combination of homeschooling and private tutoring to get his writing and math skills up to grade level. After next year we will either move to a school district better at supporting learning challenges or find a suitable private school. In either case we’d be looking for him to enter as a ninth grader in the 2023-2024 school year since he is at the very youngest end of his grade now and missed learning opportunities during the time he wasn’t getting the support he needed.

If we go the private school route, we’d be looking for a school in New England. The Landmark School in MA seems ideal except for the price tag, and they seem to have only limited financial aid. We’d need about 80% financial aid.

In terms of hooks, because of his motor planning difficulties and the cancellation of so many activities during the pandemic he doesn’t have a sport or extracurricular he excels at. He is in band but not a soloist. He is a genuinely nice kid who tends to get along with everyone and a URM. He likes computers and science so a college prep curriculum and the needed supports would work well for him.

Are there any private schools that might be options for him?

If you have not already found it, there is an excellent thread here called “Schools with Academic Support.” I found it incredibly helpful as I think about options for kiddo #2, who may be looking at these types of schools in a few years.

Best of luck finding the right fit for your child! This community will I think be quite helpful to you as you consider your alternatives.

You have a bunch of different boarding school options.
If you can get a private neuropsychological evaluation, that will make a difference in terms of helping schools understand your student. I found that the schools would accept the neuropsych instead of SSAT scores.

Here are some schools to look into, and I’m sure there are others too.

Cushing Academy (MA)
Lawrence Academy (MA)
Winchendon School (MA)

Brewster Academy (NH)
Dublin (NH)
Kimball Union (NH)
New Hampton (NH)
Proctor Academy (NH)
Tilton School (NH)

Gould Academy (ME)
Hebron Academy (ME)
Kents Hill School (ME)

Marvelwood (CT)

Another possibility is repeating 8th grade and staying for 9th grade at a junior boarding school. Many of them have great extra support: Cardigan Mountain and Hillside are both all-boys, and Indian Mountain, Rectory, Rumsey Hall are all co-ed. There are a few others too.

The Blue Ridge School in Virginia


Thank you. I will look for that thread.

That’s a really helpful list, thank you! Some of these schools are relatively close to me, which would make visiting so much easier. I hadn’t considered a junior boarding school, but I wonder if it is too late given our need for financial aid.

While the above schools all provide academic/executive functioning support, it sounds like your son may need OT/PT as well. As far as I know, none of the above schools provide those services (perhaps Cardigan Mountain?).

I’d add Forman and Eagle Hill to schools with academic support, but they are not very generous with financial aid. They would probably be better fits than Landmark as their primary population is dyslexia/language-based learning disabilities.


Eagle Hill

One of my sons went to Indian Mountain for a year and I wasn’t that impressed with the learning support. This son has adhd.

(Not for the OP, but for others reading, the school that turned him around and gave him a solid foundation for college was The Millbrook School).