ADHD presents a host of challenges for a child, particularly in the academic realm. The symptoms of this condition make it hard to concentrate, complete assignments in a timely fashion and may even cause behavioral issues in the classroom and conflicts with other students. The resulting low self-esteem that results from all these issues tends to exacerbate them. Homeschooling may be a good option for some children, and if you are considering that route, here are some tips to make it a success.
Considerations for Learning Style
Teaching children with ADHD will always be a challenge, but appealing to their primary learning style will help immensely. Before you start developing lesson plans and activities, give some thought to your child’s preferred learning style. If his style is more visual, for example, colorful graphics, colored pens and highlighters would serve you well. If he is more of the kinesthetic type, games, role-playing, experiments and field trips are a good approach.
On a related note, you need to decide how you will present material. There are many homeschool methods to choose from, and it can seem overwhelming. Examples include the Charlotte Mason method, which teaches through books written in story form by authors well-versed in the subjects, and the Unschooling method, which is more freeform and guided by your child’s interests. It may take some trial and error. But one thing is for sure. Trying to duplicate the traditional classroom environment will likely fail since your child has already shown he was struggling to work in this context.
If you feel your child is struggling with any of the curriculum, and changing up the learning style is not the issue, look into homeschool tutoring.
Many children with this condition seem to be drawn to working with computers and are usually highly skilled at operating them. There are many online courses for homeschool students and may make a good part of your curriculum. Some parents use these courses as a supplement, while others have their child take all their courses online. One way is not better than the other. It ultimately depends on your child and the goals you have set for his learning experience.
Allow Plenty of Time for Breaks
Children with ADHD get fidgety and restless—this only worsens issues with concentration, sitting still and completing assignments. Allowing your child plenty of breaks is important. Working longer than an hour at a stretch may prove counterproductive. Ideally, these breaks will involve time outside. Studies suggest allowing ADHD children some time outdoors may improve concentration.
Be Present during Independent Work
When your child is working independently, it may be tempting to shuttle off and get some other stuff done around the house. With any other type of child, this may be perfectly fine. But, with ADHD children, it is better to keep yourself available as much as possible. They tend to have a poor sense of time and they take much longer to complete assignments than they should. Also, getting off task is a common problem that you want to stay on top of.
Allow for Some Sort of Movement while You are Speaking
The fidgeting characteristic of this condition is seen as problematic, but it may not be all bad. Some studies suggest that allowing children to move around a bit may help their brain process information more effectively and concentrate more. When you find yourself in a position where you need to talk for a bit, do not expect your child to just stare intently at you and listen. This will prove very difficult. Letting him expend energy in some way can be helpful. The trick is finding forms of movement that are not completely distracting to you or him. Some good ideas include playing with silly putty or Legos.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who covers a range of education topics from helping children with ADHD succeed academically to balancing work and online degree programs.