Parents have many reasons for choosing to homeschool their children. Some parents decide to homeschool because of cultural or religious reasons, and others may simply feel that their local public school system is lacking in some regard.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many parents were also forced into homeschooling, at least part-time. Even if your child had virtual classes, it’s likely that you probably had to help them along in their learning process a bit more than usual.
While homeschooling is a valid education choice for your child, it could become more challenging if your child has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although ADHD is not a learning disorder, the symptoms could make it challenging for your child to focus. A benefit of home schooling is you could also give your child an individualized learning experience, catered to their specific needs, that they might not get at public school.
In this article, I’ll give easy tips that parents can follow for homeschooling a child with ADHD which could help make the experience as smooth and helpful as possible for everyone involved.
Note: try the Joon App for kids with ADHD to help your child learn in a homeschool setting. Our app makes tasks fun and like a game so your ADHD child could stay focus and complete different tasks throughout the day. Claim your 7 day free trial here.
Think outside the box
No matter how or where we were raised, we all have a picture in our heads of what “school” is supposed to look like. But one of the main benefits of homeschooling a child with ADHD is that school can look like anything you want it to look like, as long as it helps your child.
Try to let go of these pre-conceived notions of what school “should” look like and think outside of the box when it comes to designing your child’s homeschool experience.
For example, does school have to begin in the morning? If your child is more productive in the afternoons or evenings, could you facilitate learning during these hours instead? Does your child have to sit and study continuously for hours at a time? Could you instead break up the day into small chunks of time?
Along the same lines, be collaborative when designing the homeschool experience for your child. This means working together with your child’s physician, therapist, and any other professional to get input into what might work best for them.
But the most important person to collaborate with could be your child themselves. Don’t leave them out of the process when you’re designing their homeschool experience. What subjects would they prefer to spend more time on? What time of day do they feel most alert and focused? What special interests would they like to pursue, and what are their long-term goals? These are all important questions to ask your child to help them focus in school.
Kids thrive on routine and structure, including kids with ADHD. At the same time, being too rigid could be counterproductive for your child.
Be consistent but remain flexible. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to switch it up. For example, if you’ve made your kitchen table into your child’s workspace, but you notice that they prefer to work on the floor (and are more productive that way), then allow flexibility and change to fit whatever works for them.
Understand how your child learns
You would expect that any public school teacher working with your child would be knowledgeable about how ADHD affects kids and learning. Hold the same standard for yourself. Do your research to learn about your child’s brain and how ADHD can affect learning. Having ADHD doesn’t mean that your child can’t be successful academically. But they shouldn’t be expected to learn or perform like neurotypical students.
Understanding that your child learns in a different way from neurotypical kids could save you a lot of frustration down the road. It will also make the learning process a lot more fruitful for your child and set them up for success.
Have goals for each day
Long-term goals are important, but kids with ADHD may have a harder time thinking about the distant future. Make sure you set short-term daily goals for your child’s learning as well. For example, they may be expected to start and finish a project or to learn about a specific topic each day.
This is when collaboration with your child can come into play. What personal and academic goals does your child have? What steps do they need to take to accomplish these goals? Of course, you may need to set goals that your child isn’t interested in. But being collaborative in this process can help your child be more invested in their learning process.
Include sensory play and movement
Kids with ADHD often have differences in the way they process sensory information. For example, different sounds may be irritating to them, or lights may make them feel overwhelmed. They can also be under stimulated, which can make sitting down for 8 hours a day feel nearly impossibly boring for them.
The good thing about homeschooling a child with ADHD is that you can create a routine that works for them and their unique learning needs. Including sensory play and movement breaks in your child's school day will prevent them from becoming over- or under stimulated and make sure their brain is working as efficiently as possible.
Some ideas for sensory play that you can use include:
- Taking jumping breaks
- Utilizing fidgets
- Allowing them to chew gum
- Using sensory objects for counting or writing
- Using different types of writing utensils
Keep lessons short
If you're homeschooling your child with ADHD, there's no real reason to force them into listening to long lectures. A child with ADHD has difficulty paying attention. Forcing them through long and boring lessons for the sake of tradition could be futile, as they can only process so much information at one time.
Keep lessons short and engaging. If you don't have a background in education, it may be helpful to get some assistance or receive training on how to design lessons so that they're interesting for your child. It's better for your child to be engaged and fully present through short lessons than to be forced through long lessons with their minds wandering off.
Play educational games
Games are a great way to make education fun, engaging, and interesting. Whenever you can, gamify your lesson plans. You may be able to find resources online for computer games that are designed to teach important skills and subjects. But you can also design your own games to meet the specific needs and learning goals of your child.
The Joon app is an ADHD game that teaches your child how to organize and tackle their to-do list. 90% of kids on Joon complete their tasks.
Homeschooling your child with ADHD can be a challenging, but rewarding, experience. But you may need to implement unique strategies that wouldn't be necessary for neurotypical kids. Collaborate with your child to create a learning experience that meets their needs.