Homeschooling Children with ADHD

Instructor: Zach Gospe
Homeschooling can be a great educational alternative for a child with ADHD. In this lesson, we will discuss some of the benefits and challenges of this educational option as well as some homeschooling strategies.

Home as the Classroom

Sometimes, the traditional approach to learning, with a teacher standing in front of children sitting behind desks, may not be the most productive for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This is where homeschooling can provide an educational alternative.

Let's face it... all students become bored at school from time to time, but children with ADHD tend to get bored a bit more easily. Many of these students have trouble concentrating in class and, thus, may become forgetful or at times might even 'act out' in class. If that is the case, homeschooling could be considered an option.

Below, we will consider some benefits of homeschooling a child with ADHD as well as some challenges followed by some homeschooling approaches.

Benefits

Homeschooling is a decision each family has to carefully consider depending on their particular situation. Leaving the workforce to homeschool is a sometimes a viable option; however, there are times when there is already a parent who stays at home. If neither of these are feasible, perhaps another adult can be enlisted to take over the role of teacher or facilitator. When this is the case, a family might find that homeschooling is a better option for their child with ADHD rather than continuing with a mainstream school that is not working for that child.

After a period of adjustment, homeschool families will often report lowered stress as they no longer have to advocate for their child to receive appropriate services at their school as well as some other benefits such as:

  • The time to wake up to 'get ready to go to school' can be altered to suit the needs of the child or family.
  • There is no commute to school because school is at home!
  • Parents know exactly - and have more control over - what their child is learning
  • Choice over what, when and how to study is now in the hands of the parents and can often be negotiated with the student to suit their needs and interests.
  • There is more time for supplemental activities (such as art, music, dance, etc.) according to the child's preferences and abilities.
  • When attention starts to wane, students (and parents) can take breaks as needed before returning to the task at hand.
  • Testing anxiety is reduced or eliminated as parents can choose a variety of non-traditional approaches to assess learning.

Using the Community

Parents can arrange for or provide their child a high quality, tailored education at home in conjunction with resources available in their community. For instance, for a student who is fascinated by animals, regular visits to a nearby zoo or farm might become a regular part of the curriculum. Perhaps the student could volunteer at an animal shelter or take photos of animals and create their own encyclopedia. Aren't these activities more engaging than simply reading about animals in books?

Homeschooling makes it easier to bring education to life and play up to the child's strength. Since learning can take place anywhere (from a museum, to a park, to a child's favorite chair at home) and any time, the student will feel less stress and boredom than if he or she were expected to remain seated and attentive in a classroom chair for a set number of hours each day.

Homeschooling Challenges

It is no secret that educating a child entails a lot of responsibility and takes a lot of effort. However, homeschooling presents its own set of challenges that extend beyond the typical classroom concerns.

For instance, some parents will lack confidence in their abilities to educate their child or may lose patience during the initial stages while trying to figure out the approach that works best. It is therefore important to know that homeschooling has an initial adjustment period for the student, who goes from a highly structured and regulated day and curriculum, to having a parent teach him/her at home. It is, as you might expect, an adjustment for the parent as well.

Another challenge may come before the decision to homeschool has been made. Even though homeschooling has become more mainstream and 'socially accepted' than it has in the past, a decision to homeschool may meet with some resistance from well-intended family members, friends or even your child's school. School officials and teachers may feel as though it is in the best interest of the child to remain in the traditional classroom, so parents may feel pressure to conform or be at a loss as to how to best articulate their reasoning behind their decision to homeschool.

For these reasons, in part, it is advisable that parents do as much research as possible and explore homeschooling approaches that may meet their child's needs.

Homeschooling Options and Approaches

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to homeschooling. Parents can choose from pre-packaged curriculum, which delineates the material that will be covered, or they can take an a-la-carte approach, where curriculum is chosen from a variety of sources to suit the needs and interests of the student.

Some homeschooling approaches are:

  • Classical Method: The goal of this approach, which began in the Middle Ages, is to teach people how to learn for themselves.
  • The Charlotte Mason Method: This method promotes the belief that children deserve to be respected and that they learn best from real-life situations.
  • Eclectic: This is one of the most popular methods used by homeschoolers. Eclectic homeschoolers use different approaches and curriculum depending on the subject. They could use a mix of worksheets, books, virtual tutors, online curricula, etc.
  • Unschooling: This approach has at its core the belief that students learn from everyday life experiences. Instead of scheduled lessons or formal curriculum, unschooled children follow their interests and learn by pursuing an interest or curiosity.

The approaches listed above are just a sample of what is available. Parents will likely experiment with different methods until they find what works best for their child, so there is no need to stay committed to one specific approach if it is not working.

Lesson Summary

In this lesson, we have discussed some of the benefits of homeschooling a child with ADHD, some of the challenges and also some homeschooling strategies and options. Homeschooling affords both the parents and the student with a certain amount flexibility not usually found in the traditional classroom as well as the ability to tailor curriculum to meet the needs and strengths of the child.

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