*This post contains affiliate links. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.
Homeschooling with ADHD is no picnic!
Many parents are entirely justified in taking their ADHD kids out of the school system because they rightly feel that they are not getting enough attention. The school system is not geared to coping with ADHD adequately in spite of special accommodations and IEP programs. Budget restrictions mean that more and more facilities are being cut.
Given that the ADHD child may be disorganized, messy and will not be able to stay focused for very long means that there are extra challenges for the homeschool parent.
You may feel that your child is learning much more quickly but the next day, the child is angry, frustrated and uncooperative. It seems like taking one step forward and two steps back.
Making breaks productive and useful
In a way, homeschool makes it easier. Breaks can be built in when your child needs them. There is no need to follow a rigid timetable. We can also use breaks to organize clean-ups and these can be turned into contests and points awarded for the next treat. Points should be kept on a prominent chart and used for all sorts of other incentives as well. Tidiness will be just one of the things on the list.
Buy a stability or balance ball
The ADHD child is fidgety so moving around is helpful. I know some parents who have bought a balance or stability ball and this is really useful.
A child using the ball has to use certain muscles which keep him moving and this helps him or her to pay attention. This is because the complicated process of keeping one’s balance actively involves both sides of the brain and that helps with learning and focus. There are lots of scientific studies which support this aid and they range from the prestigious Mayo Clinic to the Journal of Occupational Therapy.
Another spin-off of the balance ball is that there is no slouching as it is impossible not to sit straight up on a ball. This is great for encouraging children to be more aware of posture when they move around and go out.
Another striking feature of ADHD is where the child seems to thrive on multi-tasking which is now encouraged in the corporate world in a certain sense although frowned upon when you do not meet a deadline! It needs to be carefully managed.
In the homeschool situation, if you are getting your child to listen, you should really allow him to do a secondary fidgety activity which can help him concentrate. This could be playing with putty, stress ball in his hands or screwing screws into a wooden panel.
It seems that the advice ‘sit still and listen’ is no longer valid for the ADHD child as research has shown us over and over again. Now, how many school teachers know about this?
Thinking outside the box
The greatest reward of all is being able to get away from the rigid school classroom atmosphere where all children have to learn the same thing! There is an obvious mismatch between a child’s creativity and inventiveness and the boring school program/curriculum which must be finished.
This is where your child at homeschooling can thrive. There are many stories of children being allowed to use their intelligence and creativity to construct things and discover how things work. The gift of hyperfocus where an ADHD child can home in on a problem is well known and there have been startling and joyful discoveries made.
Many children with ADHD have become famous and successful such as Michael Phelps, Justin Timberlake, Jamie Oliver and Karina Smirnoff and Will Smith, just to name a few!
There will always be moments when your ADHD child will not be able to control his anger and may lash out violently at possessions, siblings and toys. This is partly due to impulsivity which is one of the major symptoms of ADHD and which inhibits the child from reflecting on the consequences of his actions.
We need to teach a range of strategies whereby the child can learn to channel his anger into more productive paths and where physical activities can help unleash frustration in a much safer way.
Helping a child to talk about such strong emotions like anger is a great way to start. Parents can also act as role models in showing how they can cope with difficult moments when anger threatens to take hold and ruin everything.
About the Author:
Robert Locke has written on parenting and ADHD for many years.