When we began our homeschooling journey more than a decade ago, I suspected my son had ADHD.
I was worried and in my concern, I often asked other homeschooling moms about their kiddos and their homeschool days. The more I asked, the more conflicted I felt.
He’s just being a boy!
Don’t worry so much! He’ll grow out of it.
It seems like everyone is labeled ADHD these days.
Looking back, I can see they were trying to encourage me. I know they were well-intentioned. But the truth is, I often felt like homeschoolers were the least likely to even accept ADHD as a diagnosis, much less provide support and help for a mom homeschooling a child with ADHD.
Fast forward a decade later. My son has been living with an ADHD diagnosis for more than seven years and we have been homeschooling all along the way. What I can say with 100% certainty is that homeschooling has been the best possible choice for my child. He remains a confident learner, despite his differences and sees his ADHD as somewhat of an advantage. I have no doubt that helping him learn in ways that worked best for his unique abilities have helped with this.
Just as sure as I am of this being the best choice, I am also just as sure that my son’s ADHD diagnosis has impacted just about every aspect of our lives as homeschoolers. His impulsivity, inattention, and need to move are constants in our home. Add learning to the mix and it was clear that I needed to be intentional in creating a learning plan for my son.
Our schedule, our approach, our curriculum choices, even where we choose to learn – all have been influenced by his needs. With this in mind, today I want to share what I consider to be the essentials.
Everything You Need To Homeschool A Child With ADHD
First off, it is important to have realistic expectations about what your child can do in a given timeframe. This sets them up for success before the day even begins and makes it so much smoother.
Setting a daily routine, simplifying the schedule, and staying on top of planned activities decreases overwhelm and allows your child to learn with a sense of calm and control.
Set Clear Expectations
Tell your child what to expect upfront. This eliminates any confusion and again, sets your kiddo up to be successful.
Setting boundaries for behavior, schooling, extra-curricular activities, and daily requirements helps our children know what to expect throughout the day. Moreover, making sure they are clear and understandable upfront helps them to meet the expectation.
It is no secret that exercise and sleep are important for all children. This is especially true for kids with ADHD.
Activity improves concentration and encourages brain growth. It can also lead to better sleep which can help reduce some of the impulsiveness and inattention that goes along with this diagnosis. This certainly helps as you homeschool a child with ADHD.
One group of researchers, including the University of Georgia’s Rodney Dishman, Ph.D., examined the effects of exercise in ADHD kids by using motor-function tests that provide indirect measures of dopamine activity. The results threw Dishman for a loop because boys and girls responded differently. In boys, rigorous exercise improved their ability to stare straight ahead and stick out their tongue, for example, indicating better motor reflex inhibition.
Girls didn’t show this improvement, which may be because of a lower incidence of hyperactivity in girls. Both boys and girls improved by another measure related to the sensitivity of dopamine synapses. Boys fared better after maximal (vigorous) exercise and girls after submaximal (moderate) exercise.
Excerpted from SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey, M.D. and Eric Hagerman.
Promote Healthy Eating
Again, this is true for all of us but especially true for children with ADHD. Hunger can sometimes affect behavior and mood.
While managing ADHD symptoms, it helps to have a plan for healthy eating. You can model healthy eating habits as well, choosing brain-boosting foods like nuts, berries, and seeds to snack on throughout your homeschool day.
Kids with ADHD thrive on novelty. Infusing your homeschool with a bit of adventure is a sure way to help your child focus and learn.
Shake things up regularly and invite fun into every day. After all, homeschooling this child you love so much is so much better when it’s also fun (for both of you!).
If you have decided to homeschool a child with ADHD, please know, what you are doing matters! I am deeply grateful that my son has flourished in our homeschool. Looking back, I can see that these fundamentals made all the difference in his learning and in our lives.
To best help you as you navigate homeschooling your child with ADHD, we have created a downloadable “cheat-sheet” to make these tips and tricks easily accessible. You can get your copy by clicking the image below: