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Homeschooling a Child with ADHD

Homeschooling your children can be one of the most rewarding decisions you make. Public schools today can vary so much in terms of quality, that it can truly be a gamble to send your child to one. You never know what you’ll get from the teachers, administrators, and curriculum, not to mention other students. Working with your kids at home means that you get to teach them everything they need to know with your family’s values in mind. You can control the sources of information that will shape their minds. But, what if your child has a learning disability, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? If you do your homework and research the condition, you can successfully teach your ADHD child at home.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a cognitive disorder, which means it affects the way a person thinks and learns. There are two types: hyperactive and inattentive. Hyperactive children fidget and move around a lot. They struggle to sit still or focus on one task for very long. They can also be very impulsive and get frustrated easily. Inattentive children have a hard time paying attention, focusing, listening, following instructions, or staying organized.

ADHD is not very easy to diagnose, but doctors who do look for the above symptoms that are severe enough to impair a child’s academic and social functioning. Prescription medications are one route for dealing with ADHD, but many parents prefer to use coping strategies and learning techniques rather than drugs.

ADHD and Academic Performance

Children with ADHD mostly struggle with academics. Imagine trying to learn when you can’t sit still, follow directions, or stay focused. Now imagine being in a room with thirty other children! Most school classrooms are not good places for ADHD children to learn.

That being said, it is not impossible for such a child to learn. There are plenty of techniques that can be used to help an ADHD child learn and be as successful as any other child. Being schooled at home is an ideal setting for ADHD. At home you can make your own schedule and routine and do not have to adhere to a curriculum, timeline, or rigid schedule. You can also minimize distractions and give your child the attention and time that he needs to succeed and learn.

How to Help Your ADHD Child at Home

When homeschooling, you have the power to effectively educate your child. You can take control and be the teacher that your ADHD child needs to learn. The first thing you should do if you plan to work at home with your ADHD child is research. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about the disorder, the better you can help him. Here are some strategies and techniques to get you started.

  • Eliminate distractions during learning time. To do this, create a learning area in your home. This should be the place where you instruct your child and where he studies the material he has learned from you. These are the most difficult tasks for someone with ADHD, so the fewer distractions, the better. Use a room with no window and minimal decorations. There should be no posters or pictures on the wall, and it should be a space where there is no outside noise. Whatever you need to use for a particular lesson or study session can be brought in the room as necessary.
  • Use a variety of learning materials. Because a child with ADHD has a mind that is jumping all over the place, the best way to keep him engaged on one particular topic is to change with him. For each subject use books, movies, the computer, manipulatives, games, outdoor activities, and experiments. The more variety you introduce, the better you will be able to keep his attention.
  • Create a routine. Children with ADHD respond well to having a consistent routine. Although the subject and the manner of learning may change day by day, the routine should not. You should keep to a regular schedule of doing lessons and study sessions each and every day.
  • Take lots of breaks. Breaks from learning and studying are essential for your ADHD child. He simply is not able to focus for extended periods of time, and trying to force him to do so does not help. Plan break time in your daily routine, but also take unplanned breaks as necessary. If he is becoming distracted, can’t sit still, and is getting frustrated, a five minute run around outside will do a world of good. You can even use breaks as an incentive. If he has a reward to look forward to, he will try harder to stay on task.
  • Use organizers. Although your child is not in a traditional school, that does not mean that he does not need to learn organization. Children in public schools are required to remember to do homework, when assignments are due, and to study for tests. Don’t fall into the trap of taking on this organization yourself. Your child should learn to do it for himself and tools will help. Use binders, date books, and checklists to help him keep his learning materials in order.
  • Provide constructive feedback. Children with ADHD are not always good at observing themselves. When your child is not doing well at studying, staying organized, or learning a particular topic, help him to recognize that. Use positive language and constructive criticism to show him what you are seeing and to set him on the right path.
  • Time tasks. ADHD children often struggle to do things in a timely manner. Help your child practice using time limits. Start slowly by giving him a lot of time to complete certain tasks. Eventually, you can cut back on that time and expect him to complete assignments more efficiently.
  • Always explain. Don’t expect your child to blindly follow your strategies. Explain to him why you are learning in a certain way and that the strategies are to help him succeed. The more he understands his own condition and how it hinders him, the more he will work towards being successful while using your strategies.

Homeschooling is no simple task, especially if your child struggles with ADHD. The rewards, however, are bountiful. You will never regret having spent so much quality time with your children and being such a powerful influence in their lives.

©2011 Off the Grid News

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