Homeschooling A Child With ADHD
We made the decision to homeschool my youngest son before he was diagnosed with ADHD.
We made the decision, in part, because we suspected it. We could see the need to move, the need to talk, and the need to ask questions (no matter who was talking) already getting him into “trouble” in more formal learning environments.
Add his reading delay and overall learning differences to the mix, and it became clear very quickly that a traditional classroom would not be ideal for my child.
Eight years later, I can look back and see the good and the bad. I can see what has worked and what hasn’t.
I can tell you that for my child’s attention issues, beyond any other differences, homeschooling has been an excellent educational option.
Making The Decision To Homeschool A Child With ADHD
I am often asked about homeschooling children with ADHD. Most of the time, these questions come from parents, tired of fighting for services and worried for their children.
Before I share our experience and what I believe to be significant benefits of homeschooling a child with ADHD, I want to say one thing up front.
Homeschooling a child with ADHD is an option, but it is not a solution to all the problems our kiddos face and it is not the only way. I know a few families just like ours, that have found excellent, more traditional schooling options and are just as pleased with the results as I am with our choice to homeschool.
Every child, every family, and every diagnosis is different.
So, if homeschooling is not in the cards for you right now, please don’t feel bad or somehow less than. The longer I am at this, the more I understand that there are a multitude of ways to help our kids. Homeschooling is simply the one I know the most about.
The Benefits Of Homeschooling A Child With ADHD
The truth is, homeschooling my son with ADHD does in fact, feel a lot easier than dealing with IEP’s, less than supportive teachers, and the constant phone calls/paperwork/attendance notes that I used to manage when my son was in school. If my son is having a particularly tough day, we can play outside in the morning and get some of his energy out, instead of having to bribe him to get into the car and get to school (and I don’t have to worry about getting the note home about the number of absences!).
Increased Movement and Hands-On Learning
For a child with attention issues, sitting still at a desk is not only difficult, it can detract from retention and overall comprehension. This is especially true for my son. If he can move or get his hands dirty while learning the subject, he is much more likely to understand and retail the learning.
This means we frequently school on the trampoline, in our backyard, hanging upside down off the couch and standing at the kitchen table – something that is simply not feasible outside of a homeschool environment.
Because we are able to easily accommodate a single learner (or even a single learner and his big brother) we are able to flex the time of day and even days of the week that we study. My son has a ton of energy in the morning and is not necessarily at his best for learning. As such, we do very little structured work before 11:00 AM. Similarly, after the weekend, my son tends to be a little off (blame the change in routine and mom’s very real need for coffee come Monday morning!). We do very little formal learning on Mondays and instead, use our day to complete hands-on science experiments, listen to audio books in the car and practice life skills like organization and planning.
Increased Confidence and Self-Awareness
This is the area that make me most grateful for the opportunity to homeschool my child. Although my son has ADHD and a host of other learning differences, he is, for the most part, unaware of the stigma attached to these disorders. Because we homeschool, he doesn’t see the reading level of all the other kids in his class. He doesn’t know that he might be in a special classroom at school because of his inability to control his movements. In fact, just last week, he told his therapist that he is a very good learner. She was taken aback. She had never heard a child with so many learning delays describe himself so positively.
I told her, “He is not wrong. He is a very good learner.”
He is, when he is home, learning in the ways that make the most sense for his brain and body.
If you are considering homeschooling a child with ADHD, please let me encourage you. It can be daunting in the beginning, but my experience has been that it is more than worth it!
If you are already homeschooling a child with ADHD, please let me encourage you that I think it matters. I think it makes a difference for our children in ways that I am only just now beginning to see and understand.
Parenting a child with ADHD can be a lonely road. Please know, you are not alone. Your child is not the only one.
Looking for more information and encouragement?
Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned educational consultant, and mom of two brilliant boys who have learning differences and special needs.
Shawna has also written four books: Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos, and Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. A passionate advocate for individualized education, Shawna is frequently featured on Today.com, Simple Homeschool, Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and The Mighty. She can also be found supporting parents online at her own site, DifferentByDesignLearning.com.