Do you have a child who has been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, who is having difficulty finding success in a traditional classroom setting? Are you starting to consider that homeschooling your ADHD child may be able to offer him/her the best chance for academic achievement? Students with ADHD can suffer from a number of symptoms, including hyperactive and impulsive behavior, as well as an inability to pay attention, focus and concentrate. These symptoms can make it extremely difficult for them to succeed in the normal school environment, as their behavior can become distracting not only to their own learning but to the learning of other children in the class. As a result, many parents have now decided that homeschooling their ADHD child may be able to produce the most desirable results, and while in many cases, this might be true, there are still going to be challenges faced by parents when homeschooling an ADHD child. In this article we will discuss five of these challenges in a bit more detail, and recommend some simple strategies that can help you overcome them.
Homeschooling an ADHD Child: 5 Challenges
Unfortunately, many parents who decide on homeschooling for their ADHD child are unaware of the potential challenges until they are faced with them. This can not only make parents rethink their decision, but can also cause their child to fall back academically. This can possibly be avoided if those challenges are identified first, giving parents an opportunity to plan for them and set up a system to deal with those challenges in the most effective manner.
Although the cumulative number of challenges associated with homeschooling an ADHD child is very high, below are 5 of the most prominent challenges parents will face when homeschooling an ADHD child:
- Distractions. Studying in a school environment can cause a number of distractions for the ADHD child, but so too can homeschooling. Parents need to keep in mind that distractions need to be minimized during a student’s study hours in order to achieve the best results. This means turning off the television and the radio, and removing anything from the study environment—toys, etc.—that could potentially distract the student from the task(s) at hand.
- Frustration. One of the hallmarks of ADHD is frustration, especially when students cannot understand something like a school assignment. This frustration can then lead to another prominent ADHD symptom, acting impulsively, which ultimately could transform this moment of frustration into a full-blown tantrum. Parents need to be aware of this potential challenge and create an effective system for getting students back on track when they hit a frustrating obstacle or road block.
- Boredom and Inattention. Inattention and boredom, especially when the task at hand is repetitive in nature, such as spelling practice or handwriting, is another challenge faced by parents when homeschooling an ADHD child. To help meet this challenge, parents will need to be creative in how they arrange the school day. Instead of large blocks of time spent on repetitive tasks, try breaking up the day into shorter and more fast-paced blocks, with frequent breaks. Many ADHD children are gifted and will learn more successfully when more information is squeezed into shorter blocks of time.
- Non-Interest. Let’s face it, some schoolwork is just not that interesting, especially when children are forced to read textbooks and regurgitate what they have learned. This can lead to frequent mistakes and sloppy work, among other things. To meet this challenge parents need to be creative with their lesson plans, making the material as interesting as possible. Creating a type of “jeopardy game,” for example, in which your ADHD child is competing for a prize, is much more interesting that merely reading the material and answering questions.
- Hyperactivity. Hyperactivity is perhaps one of the biggest challenges faced by parents who are homeschooling an ADHD child. By nature, children with ADHD have a difficult time sitting still for long periods of time and will fidget and squirm in their seat. To combat this, parents should allow students to get up frequently and stretch their legs. They can even incorporate physical tasks into the child’s schoolwork, such as answering questions while jumping on a trampoline. Any strategy that doesn’t constrain a child to one particular area or seat will generally be more effective than one that does.
Homeschooling an ADHD child can be fraught with challenges, but understanding these challenges beforehand, and effectively planning for them, can significantly increase the likelihood of academic success when homeschooling an ADHD child.