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When a child has learning challenges like ADHD they may find it hard to fit into the regular public school system. Parents may get frustrated that their child is not progressing as they would have hoped, and the child may feel like they are failing at everything that they try. Although in some cases there are supports and opportunities for these kids to thrive in the system, there are also cases where this is far from the truth. Homeschooling a child with ADHD has its challenges.
When my first son received his diagnosis of ADHD from his psychoeducational assessment both the doctor and psychologist told us the same thing. Either we change the child to fit the environment, or we change the environment to fit the child. Little did they know that I would take this as literally as I did, as we pulled our son out of the system and started homeschooling in the beginning of grade one.
Homeschooling a child with ADHD is not like homeschooling a neurotypical child. There are some real differences and many things need to be taken into account before the decision to homeschool is taken on. One of the first things to consider is that ADHD kids tend to be more intense, and need much more attention themselves, you will be helping them right into Jr.High and High School. There is no leaving a workbook on the table and having them finish it without you present. Knowing this before you take homeschooling on is a very important point to consider.
So, let’s just assume that you have decided to homeschool a child with ADHD. I have 3 strategies that can help you create a working homeschool, one that supports you, and more importantly, your child.
Routine Routine Routine
ADHD brains need routine. This doesn’t mean a strict schedule with every minute mapped out (although that is what one psychologist told me to do), that doesn’t work in homeschool. Having to micro manage every moment will burn you out faster than anything else. A routine would include meals, study times, free time, and perhaps some chores. For us our routine is getting up in the morning, looking at the morning basket, having breakfast, school work time, lunch, and then pretty much free time in the afternoon, we do some more school work after dinner. ADHD kids really can’t handle a lot of information all at once, so giving them big brain breaks will make them more likely to stay focused and retain what they have learned.
Use That Hyper-Focus
People with ADHD have a tendency to hyperfocus on concepts that they really enjoy. This means that they cannot turn the learning off, and feel a need to learn absolutely everything about that subject until they feel they have mastered it, or until something else grasps their attention. Use this. Even something as simple as Pokemon can be used to teach other concepts. Play the game to learn math, write stories to cover English, do science experiments or research the different elemental types that are present. Intrinsic learning is what most homeschoolers have as a goal in their child, nurture it.
Let Go Of Your Expectations for that Perfect Homeschool
One of the hardest lessons that I learned, personally, about my own homeschool and ADHD is that my kids don’t fit in that round hole. There are many different curriculums and classes that are very popular with a vast majority of homeschoolers. However, some kids (especially those with exceptionalities) just don’t do well with them. Know your child’s strengths and weaknesses and plan your homeschool accordingly. As much as you want to use a certain curriculum or teaching method because it makes sense to YOU doesn’t mean that it’s going to make sense to your child. Stop looking at other homeschoolers for comparison. If their children are neurotypical there is none.
Lastly, find others who are in the same boat as you are. Join special needs forums, ADHD is an exceptionality, and finding the proper support for yourself will help your child. Having a child with ADHD can be hard for your mental health so make sure that you are taking care of yourself. And as always, if you feel like you can’t cope, or it isn’t working, please reach out to professionals and change it up.