Knowledge is power, and an informed parent has the power to better help their child. —Sarah Forbes
If you are reading this, you probably fit into one of the following four categories:
1. You just learned that your homeschooled child has ADHD
2.You just chose to bring your ADHD child home for school
3.You have been homeschooling your ADHD child for a while and feel like what you are doing is not working
4. You are considering homeschooling because the public school system is not working for your ADHD child.
If you are new to homeschooling or just found out that your homeschool child has ADHD, it is going to require that you rethink what it means to educate.
I am glad you found my blog because homeschooling a special needs child is challenging, and it can be a challenge to adapt homeschooling to work for the unique needs of your child. Don’t worry: there’s plenty of help available. More than likely –even if your child is gifted– you will have to make some accommodations for your child in order for their education to be a positive experience and not leave lasting trauma.
Follow this link to join our Facebook group for parents who are homeschooling ADHD children. You will have to answer the questionnaire that appears once you ask to join. If you don’t receive a questionnaire, send me a message on my author page.
The following are posts that will help you better understand your child and hopefully be better equipped to homeschool:
1. If you don’t read or listen to anything else on this list, please take the time to listen to the video series at the bottom of the blog post below. It is a video series by Dr. Barkley who is a leading authority on ADHD. This video will help you understand what is going on in your child’s head. You can’t help what you don’t understand.
2. It is hard to know what is going on the mind of your child with ADHD. My husband and I compiled a list of things that we wish our parents had understood about ADHD when we were kids. Above all, give your child the benefit of the doubt. It is hard to be ADHD in a world that doesn’t understand or accept it. It is hard to live a body that doesn’t do what you want it to do.
3. Homeschooling a kid with ADHD is different than regular homeschooling, and it is especially different than traditional, normal brick-and-mortar schooling. If normal schooling worked, you would probably have left your child in school. A child with ADHD learns differently than neurotypical kids. That’s okay because homeschooling allows you to customize your child’s education to fit his or her individual needs. See more about that below:
4. Parents are always worried about their children falling behind, but homeschooling allows us to let the child learn at their own pace. Please read this post and take it to heart. I honestly do not believe that you need to live in fear of your child being behind. Put the emotional and psychological needs of the child first –always. What good is an education that causes trauma along the way? This might require that you change the way you think about education. I believe in you!
5. If you just pulled your child out of a brick-and-mortar school, you may be chomping at the bit to get your child caught up, but your child is not ready to learn yet. You need to undo the trauma left by the brick-and-mortar school and help your child understand that learning doesn’t have to be scary. If you fail to do this, you risk further traumatizing your child by adding to the trauma left by the school system. I know about this first hand as a child with ADHD who was pulled out of school in the 1980s to be homeschooled. For more about what I mean, see this post.
6. Next is a follow-up post to There Is No Behind in Homeschool which has had over 50,000 views and many comments and objections. In the follow-up post, I address those objections such as what to do if your child has learning disabilities or if your state laws don’t allow you to let your child learn at his or her own pace. Again, I remind you that the emotional and psychological well-being of the child is most important.
7. If you are going to homeschool your child, there are some important things you need to understand about homeschooling when it is effective. There are many ways to homeschool, but many –if not most– replicate public school at home, are not effective, and are even damaging for children with ADHD.
8. One mistake that many homeschool parents make, especially in the beginning, is thinking that if a public school child is in school for 8 hours, then a homeschooled child needs to be doing 8 hours of school, too. That is simply not the case. The following are two articles, one in favor of a 3 hour school day and the other explaining why 8 hours of school in a day is not necessary. A homeschooled child can get way more done in a much shorter period of time as is explained in these articles. Forcing a child –especially a child with ADHD– to do 8 hours of school would be quite traumatic. It will likely lead to anger and resentment on the part of the child with ADHD.
9. When you get the ever-dreaded “What about socialization?” questions, please remember that the public schools are not a good example of healthy social interaction. They do not teach children how to interact in a healthy way. Just because public schools are currently considered normal does not make it the best social environment for your children. If the public schools taught students how to interact in a healthy way with people who are different than them, then why is anyone who is different bullied? I firmly believe that homeschool socialization is not only just as good but in fact better than anything the public schools can offer.
10. This is my testimony. I was a very angry ADHD, ODD child and made my parents lives incredibly miserable. Just a warning that this talks a lot about my faith and the impact that it had on my life as an ADHD child growing up.
11. Frequently, this topic comes up: should you get a diagnosis and tell your child that he or she has ADHD. I have yet to meet an adult who has ADHD and was diagnosed in adulthood who doesn’t wish they could go back and undo the damage of not knowing, the trauma and scars of a childhood that was spent in struggling, never measuring up, anger, and self-loathing. Many –if not all– of us spent our entire lives before the diagnosis believing that we were deficient and that there was something fundamentally wrong with us. I would never wish not knowing on another person. Ever. Please read my explanation of why I think you should get an accurate diagnosis and tell your child about it.
12. Another frequent discussion is about medication. Not every child needs medication, but some simply cannot function without it. In this post, we delve into the complicated world of ADHD and its comorbidities and discuss the options around treatments for ADHD. I support parents if they medicate or if they do not –I just want you to do what is best for your child.
13. If you have problems motivating your child to work either on chores or school, you might consider a carrot of some sort. This post is all about a carrot on a stick method that worked for us. If you object to candy –even a few pieces of mini M&Ms– then you could use another treat with less sugar. This post has actually gotten me the most online hate of any post which is interesting because the idea came from a leading ADHD researcher who backed it with science and explained why it worked. The research is available in the video by Dr. Barkley recommended above.
14. Does your child seem sensitive to, well, everything? To overreact to everything? To be even more emotional than other children their age? If so, it is possible that they are a Highly-Sensitive Person. While sensitivity can also be part of Sensory Processing Disorder, this, HSP, is not actually a disorder but just a difference. Learning about HSP really helped me understand myself better.
15. Another topic that comes up frequently is co-ops. Unfortunately, most co-ops are not special needs friendly. There is a huge need out there for co-ops that are willing to work with kids who aren’t “normal.” If you can’t find one, why not start one? Here are some things that helped us start our special needs friendly homeschool co-op.
16. I have been asked if there is a cure for ADHD. There is, sort of. ADHD isn’t a disease; it is a difference. So, the cure is acceptance. As a parent, that means that the cure is unconditional love for your child. This has the power to impact your homeschool and your child more than any book or curriculum or therapy or medication. Your child needs to know –and to be regularly reminded– that you love him or her not matter what. ADHDers tend to believe that there unlovable, so prove them wrong by regularly telling them that you love them unconditionally –with no conditions. There’s no remedy like unconditional love and no damage like the damage of not being unconditionally loved. No child should feel like your love is based on their performance.
That’s just a start. You can do this, but it will most likely not go as you expect, and if you are to be successful, your homeschooling will most likely not look like “normal” schooling –if such a thing as normal even exists. There are many more articles on the blog about homeschooling in general or about homeschooling if you are a parent with an illness or ADHD yourself. Feel free to ask questions, and I will do my best to answer them and help you.
Please share the blog posts if you find them helpful.
I am here for your support. I want to see you succeed on your homeschooling endeavors.