I have 2 kids with attention deficit issues. One is a textbook case of ADHD, the other is the inattentive ADD type. It can make for some interesting learning challenges and daily stresses. I only had them officially diagnosed within the last 6 months, so over the last several years I’ve had to work with my kids and figure out some adaptations that help them succeed. Here are 7 of my top tips for homeschooling my attention deficit kids.
1. Use a checklist or chart or something that clearly explains and visually shows what is expected to be completed. Something that can be crossed off or flipped over when finished to actively SEE the day’s progression. Having this list has been a lifesaver and made fighting a lot less often.
2. Be prepared to scribe. If something is seriously taking a long time to struggle through, get the answers orally from your child and write the answers down. As long as they know the answers and can explain it clearly, then that is fine.
3. Small tasks at a time. Set timers. Get x done in the next 15 minutes, get 15 minutes to do something fun (LEGO? Colouring? Outside time? Computer game?) Plan to do work > fun > work > fun. Alternate.
4. Throw in some action. If your child is having a really hard time focusing, time for some action. Challenges work great. “Ok. Run to your room, touch your wall by your bed, then run to the basement and touch the wall, then to my room and touch the window, then come here and do 5 jumping jacks.” Another idea is to find a small trampoline and let them bounce. Any kind of action is helpful. It stops the wiggles, gets the blood pumping, and refocus works well.
5. Get hands on. Workbooks and pages don’t always cut it. Try a different approach. Not all curricula are going to work with an ADHD child. They often are quite tactile and hands-on. See if you can adapt the lessons to meet those needs.
6. Divide and Conquer. If you have multiple kids, break them up. Give them their own space to work. Help your special needs kid on their own instead of doing group learning together. They often need someone to keep them on task and focus on the work they have to do.
7. Be gracious. Reward the positive and not the negatives. Encourage and don’t get discouraged yourself. It’s SO incredibly hard when you spend your days headbutting and arguing and fighting. Trust me I know. Oh man, do I know…… Somedays, you are going to lose. That’s the truth. No matter how much you try and adapt, …. that’s going to happen. It’s ok to pack up the books for the day, head outside, and run free. Your child is not going to lose their education that way. It’s totally ok. By “be gracious” I mean you as well. Be gracious and forgiving to yourself too. Parenting a challenging child is very tiring and draining.