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Moms and Dads, how many times have you drafted the perfect schedule, created the perfect environment to homeschool your ADHD child, and put on a great big happy face before learning time only to have him scrunch up his face and say:
“I don’t want to do lessons!”
Only about a million times last year?
And this year, we’re approaching the 100,000 mark already, honey.
I do feel your pain. Trying to homeschool a child with ADHD is the equivalent of pulling teeth some days. It’s a never-ending tug-of-war between you and the ADHD.
In your heart, I know you want to do what’s best for your child, yet some days, you want to throw in the towel. Your tax dollars are paying for public school anyway, right?
Nearly 10 percent of school-aged children have ADHD, but the sad truth is there isn’t enough training or teachers to handle them all. Despite their best efforts too many kids fall through the cracks and get left behind.
Let’s not forget the reasons why you wanted to homeschool anyway. You want your child to have a fair shot, you want to be closer as a family, and you want to be there for the important milestones you may miss if she went to public school.
And due to recent events, I’m sure safety is high on the priority list.
Homeschooling Your ADHD Child with Less Frustration
Parents and caregivers, if you’re about to tear your hair out because your child screams when it’s time to write, perform math, or even get of out bed, here are some tips you can try to get your youngster in learning mode.
- Discover your child’s learning style
- Choose the best curriculum for your student
- Establish a solid routine
- Take frequent breaks
- Pick your battles
What Kind of Learner Are You, Anyway?
Let’s face it. Generation X is the last breed of traditional learners. We’re also the first generation to challenge that status quo of Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic.
As Big Mama put it, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Staring at a chalkboard or whiteboard in an uncomfortable chair won’t work. When your child has ADHD, how they learn is just as important as what they learn.
There are four types of learners (and they all learn best in different ways):
- Visual – Books, online, even YouTube
- Auditory – Music, rhymes, or simply listening if the information is stimulating
- Kinesthetic – Motion learning like LeapFrog Interactive
- Read-write – They may write or doodle while you teach
Your child may have a combination of all these traits depending on the subject. One trait usually sticks out more than the others, though. If you’re not sure, here’s a link to an assessment that can help you determine your child’s learning type.
Choose the Best Curriculum
There are hundreds of programs from which to choose. It can be very overwhelming and also very costly.
Your approach to curriculum shouldn’t be based on price but on your child’s needs. There are some wonderful free programs out there and some cost-effective programs that can give your child what she needs. Before you choose a program, do some research.
First, make sure you’re following the homeschooling laws for your state. Different states have different requirements. To find the homeschool laws for your state, visit HSLDA.org/laws.
Once you’re clear on the law, it’s time to do your research. I’ve discovered word-of-mouth works best. Signing up for a couple of Facebook groups for homeschoolers with ADHD children, and even homeschool Pinterest groups, saved me hundreds of dollars.
Now, because you’re in control of your child’s learning, you can even develop your own curriculum as long as it meets your state’s requirements. Reading, writing, and math are important, but what about life skills? Raise your hand if dissecting a frog helped you balance your checkbook?
If you’re on the fence about curriculum, try starting with EasyPeasy All-in-One online. It’s free, and the curriculum covers Pre-K through 12th grade. Also, if you’re a person of faith, they have Bible lessons, too.
Routine, Routine, Routine
Did I fail to mention routine? Set the expectation of learning every day whether they feel like it or not. You don’t have to be a drill sergeant, just remind them this is what we do. Because honestly, ADHD or no ADHD, everyone has things they must do.
Side note: Include them in the schedule planning.
A child with ADHD will try you. Don’t worry about sticking to rigorous schedules; we know that won’t work for him. It doesn’t have to be hardcore, just constant.
When he gets upset, don’t get mad, yell, or threaten. Hold your position. The best thing you can do is let him have his tantrum and then proceed when it’s over.
Give Me a Break!
Breaks are important to children with ADHD. Sensory overload makes a bad situation worse when you’re adamant about getting things done. Trying to force an ADHD child to learn is like trying to push a semi-truck with a toothpick.
You can’t do it.
If you see the situation going south, just take a break. Better yet, schedule breaks into your routine. If your child knows he has a break after every lesson, he can train his brain to relax.
Think about it. If you have an exercise routine, notice how your body and mind power down when it’s finished. That’s the happy endorphins flowing because you feel good after you’ve completed your task.
So give him a break. Let him play with his trucks or run outside. Take advantage of the quiet (adult) time to check your email or pop into your favorite Facebook group.
Or, the two of you can play together or go for a walk. Do whatever it takes to get out of your head for a few minutes.
Pick Your Battles
Finally, this is a battle cry most seasoned homeschool parents shout out.
Pick battles big enough to matter, but small enough to win
You know your children better than anyone. You believe they can do anything they set their minds to, but you also know their limitations. And that’s not you being critical, that’s you facing the truth.
Their education matters most. Whether they learn by seeing, hearing, or doing, the important thing is that they learn. So what if so-and-so’s kids built the Apollo with matchsticks!
Your win could be that your child remembered playing with matches can be deadly. It’s all about celebrating their wins, not comparing them to someone else.
Teaching a child with ADHD comes with significant challenges and great rewards. If you’re willing to do the work, you may find yourself in your own Hall of Fame along with heavy-hitters like Bill Gates, Michael Phelps, and Whoopi Goldberg.
Yes, you will have problems, but look at it this way: When your child leaves home, they will have an experience their peers didn’t. They will have parents that did more than came to games and signed report cards. They will have the unconditional support of people who love them for who they are, not what society thinks they should be.
Bonnie Harris Price is a blogger, part-time poet, entrepreneur, and mother to two children with ADHD, a 21-year-old daughter, and a six-year-old son. When she’s not blogging and homeschooling, she’s adoring her one-year-old granddaughter, taking courses for proofreading certification, and learning about real estate. This Texan by marriage is originally from Memphis, Tennessee. You can visit her website at adhdhomeschooled.com.