Homeschooling a Child with ADHD
How ADHD Affects Learning | Public Schools vs Homeschooling for ADHD | Benefits of Homeschooling | Strategies and Tips for Homeschooling | Using Forbrain
Homeschooling is a form of education done at home, usually by a child’s parents. Traditional schooling is conducted in a classroom in a school building by certified teachers. Homeschooling can take on many forms and can be in a variety of locations, not just in the student’s home. It can be a great option for families looking to support their child with ADHD. Whether you are already on your homeschooling journey, or are considering making a change from public school, there are several things to consider when homeschooling ADHD children.
How ADHD Affects Learning
Children with ADHD will exhibit certain behaviors that impact the learning process. Here are the most common characteristics:
- Difficulty concentrating: It may seem like these students will do anything but concentrate on what you are teaching. You may find yourself giving them multiple reminders to look up at the board or listen to what you are saying.
- Difficulty staying focused in order to complete tasks: Students with ADHD may start a task, but have difficulty completing it. You may have to check in with them often in order to ensure that they see a task through to completion.
- Mind wanders to think about other things: You may notice that students start drawing pictures of their favorite superhero on their assignment, or they tell you an unrelated story when you ask them a question.
- Seem unable to listen: Children with ADHD often seem unable to follow even simple directions or need instructions repeated several times before they will complete them.
- Do better with certain tasks than others: A child with ADHD may excel in math class, but struggle working in groups or keeping their desk organized.
- Difficulty remembering and learning new information: You may find that you need to reteach lessons or strategies to students with ADHD multiple times, or provide additional prompts for them to demonstrate understanding and mastery of concepts.
- Difficulty organizing, planning, and finishing tasks in a timely manner: It may take these students longer to complete assignments or pack up to go home at the end of the day. They may seem confused and need support in order to complete these tasks.
- Fidgety and seem unable to sit still: You may notice that children with ADHD will always be moving their hands and feet, get up and walk around the classroom, or ask to use the bathroom frequently.
- Tries to do more than one task at a time: Not only does a student with ADHD have difficulty completing tasks, they may attempt to do multiple tasks at once, and not complete any of them, or not complete them well. They may try to listen to an audiobook while talking to a friend or eat their snack while working on an assignment.
- May abruptly move from one activity to another: Instead of completing a task, an ADHD child may move on to a new one. While in the process of packing up to go home for the day, they may decide to stop and finish the rest of their lunch or draw a picture for their friend.
- Impulsive and acts before thinking: Children with ADHD may make rash decisions that they later regret. They may spend all their money on a toy or decide to walk home from school instead of riding the bus without telling their parents.
- Difficulty waiting their turn during conversation or a game: Peers will often become frustrated with the ADHD student because that student will often interrupt others who are speaking or jump ahead during a game and skip someone else’s turn.
Public Schools vs Homeschooling for ADHD
Is homeschooling better for ADHD children? When deciding between public school and homeschooling for your child with ADHD, it is important to consider the main differences between the two types of schooling. Each option will have a different impact on your child’s ability to learn with ADHD. Consider the following factors:
|Curriculum||In the public school setting, one curriculum is chosen for the entire class.||With the ADHD homeschool option, you have the freedom to choose your own curriculum, and make changes as needed.|
|Learning Environment||In public school, the learning environment typically consists of a group of children in a classroom, with children seated at desks and the teacher instructing from the front of the room. Some schools may have a different setup or be more hands-on.||In homeschooling, instead of a single learning environment, learning can take place anywhere: in the kitchen, living room, bedroom, in the backyard, at the park, at the library, at a museum, on vacation, etc.|
|Individualized Approach||In a public school setting, although teachers try to individualize their instruction, they are more limited because of the time constraints and large class sizes. Children with ADHD may need reminders or extra support in certain areas, so this is an important factor to consider.||Children who are homeschooled receive a completely individualized education since they are one of only a few children that the instructor (parent) needs to focus on.|
|Teacher Proficiency in Working with ADHD Students||It can be hard to know how familiar your child’s teacher in the public school setting is with working with ADHD students. If they have a few years of teaching under their belt, they have probably taught several students with ADHD.||If you decide to homeschool your child, you may not feel like an expert and will likely be learning as you go. You ARE an expert in your child though. You work with your child in all other areas of their life, and you will use many of those same strategies when homeschooling.|
|Flexibility/Adaptability||In public school, there is a set schedule, rules, and curriculum. Some of the more minor aspects of schooling can be adapted for your child with ADHD, but many of the bigger things cannot be adjusted.||Homeschooling can be as rigid or as flexible as you and your family would like. You have the freedom to try something out, and change it if it doesn’t work.|
|Extracurricular Activities||The extracurricular opportunities available to students in the traditional school setting depend on the school district.||Any hobbies or activities are available to children when they are homeschooled. Children can join local co-ops or sports teams, take music lessons, or participate in 4-H. Keep in mind that joining extracurricular activities can take more initiative when homeschooling since the activities aren’t as easily accessible as those at a public school.|
|Social Interaction||Although there are opportunities for social interaction in both educational settings, it looks different. In a public school, children are surrounded by their peers all day and often have the opportunity to participate in group projects and other activities.||Children who are homeschooled are available for other types of social interaction. They are in close contact with their parents and siblings everyday. If they go on a lot of community outings, they will interact more with people in their community, which includes people of all ages. A local co-op and other extracurricular activities allow homeschooled children to be around other peers.|
The Benefits of Homeschooling for ADHD Child
There are many advantages to homeschooling a child with ADHD. Consider the following benefits:
- Individualized learning plan: If your ADHD child needs reminders to focus, repetition of directions, or other accommodations to help them learn, they can receive those supports. Since you are their teacher and you can focus all your attention on your ADHD child and their siblings, you can individualize their education to best suit their needs.
- Flexibility: Homeschooling offers a great deal of freedom, and you can make changes to your routine when needed. Set up a daily and weekly schedule that works best for your ADHD child. Is your child having an off day and struggling to complete their math homework? Take a break and get outside for an hour. Do they need more instruction in science? Take an extra couple of days to reteach the lesson before moving on.
- Reduced distractions: In a smaller setting with fewer students, there are fewer distractions. Children with ADHD are easily distracted and have difficulty focusing and remaining on task, especially when there is a lot of external stimuli. You and your child can set up the environment in a way that reduces or eliminates anything that is distracting.
- Tailored strategies: Since you know what works best for your child, you can carry over any effective strategies into homeschooling. Strategies such as setting a timer, incorporating a visual schedule, and taking breaks can be helpful tools to incorporate.
- Reduced anxiety: This applies to both you and your child with ADHD. When you send your child to public school, you may feel nervous about how they do in class or you may receive frequent negative reports from the teacher. Your child may feel nervous about trying to keep it all together in order to pay attention and complete homework on time. Homeschooling your ADHD child will reduce anxiety for both of you.
Strategies and Tips for Homeschooling for ADHD
The thought of homeschooling your ADHD child can be both exciting and overwhelming. Here are some strategies to help you support and educate your child more effectively:
Establish a structured routine
Children with ADHD benefit from knowing what to expect and having a consistent routine. Work with your child to come up with a feasible schedule that is realistic for both of you.
Break tasks into several parts
Large projects or even simple directions can be confusing to your ADHD child. It is helpful to have individual steps written down or represented through pictures. Have your child repeat the steps back to you to ensure they have heard and understand.
Provide regular breaks
You can’t expect a child who struggles to remain engaged and on task to work for hours at a time. Set up a schedule that includes regular breaks. Find an interval that works for your child, such as taking a break every 15 minutes. This sets them up to be successful and productive during that 15 minute interval. Vary the breaktime activities, such as going outside, playing a game, having a snack, etc.
Seek support and resources
Don’t feel like you have to tackle ADHD and homeschooling alone. Find other homeschooling families and parents to bounce ideas off of. Learn from parents who have been doing it for years; they will be happy to share their experience. Signing your child up for extracurricular activities or local co-ops is a great way to connect with other homeschooling families.
Encourage physical activity
Exercise can help ADHD children manage their symptoms. Getting some physical activity everyday can help to improve your child’s focus, reduce their anxiety, and improve their mood. This can include riding a bike, playing a sport, jumping on the trampoline, or playing tag. Find a type of physical activity that your child enjoys for them to participate in during their breaks.
Homeschooling in general is a lot, and homeschooling with ADHD children can be especially stressful. In order for you to be at your best for your child, it is important for you to take care of yourself. This may look like taking some time for yourself to read, call a friend, or go for a walk.
Be open to making changes throughout your homeschooling journey. Continually evaluate as you go, so you can determine what is working and what needs to be changed. You may need to modify your schedule or the curriculum. Also, since each day is different and your child will have ups and downs, you may need to make adjustments over the course of a morning or afternoon.
Using Forbrain in Speech Therapy for ADHD
Forbrain is a tool that you can add to your homeschooling repertoire. Forbrain can benefit children with ADHD by reducing distractions. It helps to improve focus in order to help students better attend to tasks. Speech therapists use Forbrain in their therapy sessions to provide auditory feedback by allowing children to hear themselves when talking. Forbrain can also be used with children by their parents, making it perfect for homeschooled ADHD children.
Homeschooling ADHD Children FAQs
What’s the best homeschool curriculum for ADHD?
There are a variety of homeschool curriculums that may work for your ADHD child. When choosing a curriculum, keep in mind the following factors:
- Try to find curriculums that are multisensory (incorporate hands-on activities, music, movement, etc.).
- What is the teaching method? Instead of using a curriculum that presents information followed by quizzes, find a curriculum that is engaging and includes pictures, videos, games, experiments, and other hands-on activities.
- Make sure lessons are brief. Because of their short attention span, ADHD children will lose focus if lessons are long and drawn out.
- Find ways to incorporate their interests. Consider unit studies that use a specific theme to target a variety of academic subjects and learning objectives.
Who should do homeschool teaching?
Homeschool teaching is traditionally and most often done by parents, but that is not the only option. Some families hire tutors or teachers. Local co-ops may employ teachers to teach a group of children in a specialized area, or utilize parents to teach specific classes or age groups.
How to teach social skills when homeschooling?
Many children with ADHD struggle with social skills. Homeschooling provides a great opportunity to work on these skills since there is more individualized attention. Here are some suggestions:
- Provide opportunities for your child to interact with both peers and adults. Enroll them in extracurricular activities or the local co-op, or set up playdates at the park or library.
- Increase their self-awareness. Ask your ADHD child how they think a social interaction went after it is over. Then discuss what they did well and what was challenging for them.
- Coach your child on proper social skills and provide opportunities for practice.
- Demonstrate how to initiate and participate in a conversation or how to ask a peer to play. Role-play scenarios before the situation arises so they feel prepared ahead of time.
Can parents teach ADHD children?
Some parents may not feel equipped to educate their children, but you are your child’s best teacher. No one knows your ADHD child better than you. You know where their gifts and talents lie, what they struggle with, how to help them focus, and what their interests are. All of this knowledge is important and will guide your homeschooling journey.
How do students with ADHD learn best?
Every child learns differently, including children with ADHD. Learn about your child’s unique interests and talents, and focus on those. Incorporate the tips and strategies for homeschooling ADHD children listed above.
What is the best environment for a child with ADHD?
There is no one perfect environment for a child with ADHD. It is based on personal preference and the opportunities available to each child. Some children with ADHD are successful in a classroom setting. Some classroom teachers incorporate accommodations and modifications for ADHD children and are willing to be flexible. Other children with ADHD do better in a homeschool setting because they learn best in a familiar environment in which they feel comfortable.
Educating ADHD children can be challenging, but you have options. Homeschooling children with ADHD may provide a solution that works to your child’s strengths. ADHD has an impact on learning, but homeschooling provides many benefits when effective strategies are used to help children succeed in the homeschooling environment. Everyone involved in the care and education of children with ADHD, including parents, educators, and healthcare professionals, should consider homeschooling for ADHD children as part of a comprehensive ADHD treatment plan.
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Wingert, S. (Accessed 2023, August 30). The Best Homeschool Curriculum for Your Child with ADHD. Different by Design Learning. https://differentbydesignlearning.com/homeschool-curriculum-for-adhd/