ADHD, charts, homeschooling

ADHD Comorbidities That Parents Should Be Aware Of

ADHD is hard.

It is hard to live with ADHD when you have it.

It is hard to live with ADHD when your friends and family have it.

It is hard to accurately diagnose sometimes, and it is hard to find treatments that work –because everyone is different and how the ADHD affects them is different.

But, ADHD by itself can seem simple compared to ADHD with comorbidities.

Comorbidities are ADHD’s mean, ugly cousin who came to visit and just won’t leave.

Comorbidities take a condition that is complicated but successfully treatable in 50% or more of the cases and make it incredibly complicated to live with and medicate.

The definition of a comorbidity is “an additional condition” or “two conditions coexisting at the same time.”

By itself ADHD can be life-threatening –or at least the side effects of undiagnosed and untreated ADHD: suicide, car accidents, drug abuse, etc.

But comorbidities complicate everything.

It is often hard to tell where the ADHD ends and the comorbidity starts which is why a knowledgeable clinician or doctor is incredibly important and why I don’t recommend going to a primary care physician for diagnosis and treatment of ADHD.

It took me six doctors to find someone in our area who could diagnose adult ADHD.

The primary doctor said I didn’t have ADHD because I wasn’t bouncing off the walls in her office at age 30 –hyperactivity is one part of ADHD that most people outgrow by internalizing the restlessness.

My psychiatrist who I was seeing for postpartum depression didn’t even believe ADHD was a real thing –yes, even many mental health professionals still do not recognize ADHD as legitimate.

The first psychologist I saw used the childhood ADHD diagnostic computer test for my evaluation and declared that I did not have ADHD –the kid’s test doesn’t work on adults.

You get the idea.

If it was that hard for me to get diagnosed with almost no comorbidities –I have some anxiety but not enough to need medication– then imagine how hard it is to get a child who cannot explain what is going on in their head a proper and accurate diagnosis if there are overlapping serious conditions.

If you think your child has ADHD –and especially if you think they have comorbidities– I implore you to find someone who is very informed about these disorders.

We had great success with a developmental pediatrician, a mental health nurse practitioner, and a psychologist who had ADHD himself.

They key to finding a good clinician in my experience is calling around and finding out what percentage of adults with ADHD are seen in that clinic. ADHD adults will not stay with a bad clinician. If they see a lot of ADHD patients and a lot of those are adults, you can probably count on decent treatment there.

The following graphic addresses six possible comorbidities, but these are not the only comorbidities know to hang around with ADHD. This is just a starting point to raise awareness of comorbidities. I encourage parents to do their own research.

Informed parents can better help their child.

Depression symptoms:

Persistent sadness, Withdrawal, Changes in sleep patterns, Loss of interest, Talk of suicide, Problems in school

Anxiety Disorder symptoms:

Sleep problems, Increased irritability. Withdrawal, School refusal, Argumentative, Hair twirling, Skin picking, Compulsivity, Panicking

Bipolar Disorder symptoms: Bursts of energy and restlessness, Impaired judgment, Depressive and manic episodes, Severe mood swings, Family history of bipolar

Conduct Disorder symptoms:

Family history, Trauma, Harming others, Animal cruelty, Aggression, Disregard for rules, Running away from home, Bullying

Sensory Processing Disorder symptoms:

Sensitivity to taste, touch, light, textures, etc., Coordination problems, Too rough/gentle, Weakness, Alternating dominant hand in writing

Oppositional Defiant Disorder symptoms:

Aggression, Antisocial behavior, Impulsivity, Screaming, Self-harm, Resentful, Argumentative, Vindictive, Rebellious

ADHD Comorbidities That Parents Should Be Aware OfDownload the PDF: ADHD Comorbidities That Parents Should Be Aware Of

There is more information about additional comorbidities based on a survey of adults with ADHD in this post called Should I Medicate My ADHD Child?

You can find more graphics about ADHD here.

This a reminder that I am not a doctor or a scientist. I am just a writer and author making graphics and posts based on information I have read from leading authorities on ADHD. I encourage you to research these issues yourself and watch the Dr. Barkley videos at the bottom of this post called What You Need to Know About Your ADHD Child for more information about the science behind ADHD.

I hope this information is helpful. If you enjoyed this post, I would be honored if you would subscribe to my blog and follow me on Facebook.


Sarah Forbes

ADHD, charts, children, homeschooling

How Do Executive Function Problems Affect My ADHD Child?





If you or your child have ADHD, you have executive function issues.

ADHD is basically all about problems in executive function.

What is executive function?

“Executive functions (collectively referred to as executive function and cognitive control) are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals. Executive functions include basic cognitive processes such as attentional control, cognitive inhibition, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Higher order executive functions require the simultaneous use of multiple basic executive functions and include planning and fluid intelligence (i.e., reasoning and problem solving).” –from Wikipedia

How executive function problems affect someone varies by the person.

For instance, I don’t struggle with time management as much as some of my ADHD friends. I struggle in some areas, like keeping on a strict schedule, but I don’t struggle to arrive places on time or to make plans.

Some ADHD people have a hard time thinking up creative solutions, but that is one thing I am really good at.

So, while ADHD does involve executive function, how it looks in each person is as individual as the person themselves.

The following chart lists the various areas of executive function that could be deficient in an ADHD person.

How Do Executive Function Problems Affect my ADHD Child

It was very helpful for me to identify which areas I am good at and which I am not.

There are some of these areas that I am not struggling with which was very encouraging for me.

It also helped me to see these all written out because I was able to look at this chart and see how my children struggle compared to how I struggle.

At least if I can identify the problems, I can give them more grace and help in that area. If I can identify the issue in myself, then I can realize when one activity is going to cause more stress than another.

You can download the PDF of this graphic here: How Do Executive Function Problems Affect my ADHD Child PDF.

Follow this link to read a detailed description by Dr. Barkley of the 7 areas affected by executive function.

To learn more about executive function, take a look at these posts:

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Age?

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Tank?

For additional posts on ADHD:

What You Need to Know About Your ADHD Child

13 Facts Parents of ADHD Children Should Know

17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You if He Could

10 ADHD Statistics Parents Should Be Aware Of

ADDitude Magazine Endorses Homeschooling When Public School Isn’t Working

Start Here to Learn More About Homeschooling an ADHD Child

So, You Want to Homeschool Your ADHD Child


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I cannot diagnose your child or offer you medical advice. A lot of the ADHD information on this blog comes from Dr. Russell Barkley’s videos –many of which are available on YouTube. There are many links in this post to more information about these topics, but since I am not a scientist or a researcher, I am unable to provide you with double-blind studies. I am just a writer and artist making articles and graphics based on information I have seen and read from ADHD professionals in an effort to raise ADHD awareness. I encourage you to look into these ideas yourself and follow the links provided. You can see more of those videos from Dr. Barkley at the bottom of this post.


You can also download a pdf worksheet to evaluate if your child’s ADHD treatment is helping his or her symptoms here.

If you found this information helpful, I would be honored if you would subscribe to my blog and follow my Facebook page.


Sarah Forbes

ADHD, children, homeschooling

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Tank?


Executive function is defined as “self-directed actions needed to sustain problem-solving towards a goal.”

“Executive functions (collectively referred to as executive function and cognitive control) are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals. Executive functions include basic cognitive processes such as attentional control, cognitive inhibition, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Higher order executive functions require the simultaneous use of multiple basic executive functions and include planning and fluid intelligence (i.e., reasoning and problem solving).” (from Wikipedia)

ADHD is an executive function disorder.

Because of the asynchronous growth in their brains, ADHD people struggle with executive function.

It is a daily struggle.

Since so much of life requires executive functions, it is easy for those of us with ADHD to deplete our executive function ability –or our executive function tank.

Different activities can either fill or tax our executive function. When the tank runs out, the ability for self-restraint is gone resulting in blowups and meltdowns –even in adults with ADHD.

“The executive function has a limited fuel tank, and you can spend it out real quick. Every time you use an executive function and you use it continuously, you empty the tank. And, if you get to the bottom of the tank, in the next situation, you will have no self-control. This is the ADHD child after school. It [the executive function] is gone, and you want to do homework? You’re out of your mind! So, you’ve got to refuel that tank, and that tank has a very limited capacity.” –Dr. Russell Barkley

What taxes the tank? How can we refuel the tank?

What Is My Child's Executive Function Tank-

You can download a printable PDF of this graphic “What Is My Child’s Executive Function Tank” by clicking here.

The most useful perspective on ADHD is to view it as a chronic disability.

“ADHD is the diabetes of psychiatry. It is a chronic disorder that must be managed every day to prevent the secondary harms it is going to cause, but there is no cure for this disorder. They [those with ADHD and their loved ones] need to view ADHD as diabetes of the brain. It’s a chronic disorder.” –Dr. Russell Barkley

Like with any disability, those with ADHD will need the support from those around them to succeed.

I hope this chart helps you better understand what is going in with your ADHD friends and family.

You can learn more about executive function on this post:

What Is My Child’s Executive Function Age?

To learn more about ADHD in general, there is a great video at the bottom of this post. The video is a 3 hour long series by the wonderful ADHD advocate Dr. Russell Barkley.

What You Need to Know About Your ADHD Child

Many of the ideas in this post have come from Dr Barkley. The concept of an executive function tank came from the video in the bottom of this blog post:

13 Facts Parents of ADHD Children Should Know

I hope you find this information helpful. If you enjoyed this post, I would be honored if you would subscribe to my blog or follow me on Facebook.

You can also download a worksheet here to help you evaluate if your child’s ADHD treatment plan is working.

Please remember to give your ADHD loved one or friend lots of grace. They have a brain that works differently than the brains of neurotypical people.


Sarah Forbes

I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I cannot diagnose your child or offer you medical advice. Most of this information comes from Dr. Barkley’s videos –many of which are available on YouTube. There are many links in this post to more information about these topics, but since I am not a scientist or a researcher, I am unable to provide you with double-blind studies. I am just a writer and artist making posts and images based on information I have seen and read from ADHD professionals in an effort to raise ADHD awareness. I encourage you to look into these ideas yourself and follow the links provided. If you Google “Executive Function + Dr. Russell Barkley” there is a lot of information available online.

ADHD, charts, homeschooling

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Age?

“Executive functions (collectively referred to as executive function and cognitive control) are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals. Executive functions include basic cognitive processes such as attentional control, cognitive inhibition, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Higher order executive functions require the simultaneous use of multiple basic executive functions and include planning and fluid intelligence (i.e., reasoning and problem solving).” (from Wikipedia)

What is my ADHD child's executive age

The brain of the ADHD child is developing at an average 30% behind schedule in the frontal lobe region according to leading ADHD researcher Dr Russell Barkley. The frontal lobe controls regulation. It is the executive function part of the brain. It is the boss, the voice in your brain, the executive assistant, that tells you what to do with what you know and learn. Because this part is behind schedule, children with ADHD brains are not always able to access the information they know to make use of it.

All the files are there in the information section, but the operating system is failing to access the files.

For example, they may know that stoves are hot and yet impulsively touch a hot stove because the part of their brain that says “Wait!” isn’t working on schedule with neurotypical brains. This is because the files stored in the back of their brain that says “Stoves are hot” was not accessed in a timely manner to prohibit touching the stove. It is not because they do not know the stove is hot. It is a failure of the frontal lobe of the brain to access the information they have stored in the memory sections.

Executive function dysregulation generally causes deficiencies in planning, abstract thinking, flexibility and behavioral control. It encompasses many different parts of regulation –from emotional control to physical control over their bodies to organizational abilities– and any one part could be more or less affected by ADHD. It varies by the individual.

Because there are other disorders or injuries that can cause executive delay problems, Executive Function Disorder is a diagnosis in an of itself. Sometimes, someone with ADHD will have both diagnoses. According to Dr. Barkley, (the ADHD researcher who is the source of the 30% behind concept) every ADHD person has executive dysfunction by default to one level or another.

The 30% behind neurotypical people as listed in this graphic is just an average. So your child could be more behind or less behind. He could be more behind in some areas and less behind in others.

For instance, I knew I was impulsive (even though I didn’t know I have ADHD) and didn’t think things through as a teen. So I chose not to get my license until I was 19 and thought I could handle it. Impulsivity was a big deal for me. But I was also a smart kid and knew I wanted to be careful and make good choices. So even though I tended to be impulsive, I was careful about my choices, involving my parents in decision making, asking for advice from trusted adults, and being cautious. This made a huge difference in me not making bad choices as a teen.

When I got married I was 20 which gives me the executive age of 13.33 according to our chart (which is a rule of thumb, not a hard and fast rule). No wonder I had so much trouble organizing our lives, managing our home, working a job, and paying bills! It makes so much sense now. I had to work so much harder than anyone I knew to do these things well.

The chart only goes up to 32 years of age. There is a reason for this. In the human adult, we reach our peak maturity in our early thirties. That means that however much the ADHD brain has developed by the early thirties is where it will stay. However, that does not mean that we cannot learn new coping mechanisms or better skills. It does, however, mean that ADHD adults tend to be about the same Executive Function Age as those who are in their 20s. This makes us a lot of fun actually! Executive function only refers to the regulatory part of our brains, not our intelligence or ability to learn new things. We may tend to be emotionally reactive, impulsive and disorganized compared to other people our age. Medication can help us make up that 30% difference no matter what age we are.

I hope this chart will help you better understand those around you who have ADHD. Please give them a lot of grace –and remind them that you love them no matter what.

If you have ADHD, give yourself a big hug for me. You are awesome. You have worked way harder than everyone else to get to where you are right now. ADHD people are my most favorite people in the whole world. On average, they are kind, loyal, honest, gracious, and compassionate. Don’t let the fact that you are awesome get lost in the science of ADHD. You know how you always felt like you need a housekeeper and a secretary? That is because those parts of your brain don’t work the same way as neurotypical people’s brains do. All those things require your frontal lobe to work efficiently –the frontal lobe is the very part of your brain affected by ADHD. It is okay. Find a tribe of ADHD people who get you. Educate those around you about ADHD. And, above all else, give yourself a lot of grace.

If you have ADHD, leave a comment and let me know how it affects your life –do you feel the 30% behind? Or maybe this average isn’t true for you.

If you are a parent of an ADHD child, I would love to hear if this post and graphic helps you to understand your child better.

You can download a copy of the above graphic “What’s My ADHD Child’s Executive Age?” to print for yourself here.

You can also download a pdf worksheet to evaluate if your child’s ADHD treatment is helping his or her symptoms here.

If you found this information helpful, I would be honored if you would subscribe to my blog or follow my Facebook page.


Sarah Forbes

P.S. The information in this post, and particularly the chart, is based on a video series by Dr Russell Barkley. You can find the video series at the bottom of this blog post. If you enjoyed this post, there are many other posts on my blog about ADHD such as:

13 Facts Parents of ADHD Children Should Know

17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You If He Could

Start Here to Learn More About Homeschooling an ADHD Child

ADHD, charts, homeschooling

13 Facts Parents of ADHD Children Should Know

#ADHDFacts #DrBarkley #GraceUnderPressureBlog #ADHDAwarenessMonth

If you love someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD or who you think has ADHD you might feel like you’re fighting a battle. False information, extreme biases, and fake news are profuse to the point that what most of the public believes about ADHD is simply lies –lies that affect those of us who have ADHD and those of us love people with ADHD. I’m not going to misrepresent this: it can feel like a battle. But, there are science and facts to combat the profuse misinformation permeating the internet.

Here are some facts you need to know about ADHD:

1. ADHD is not a new diagnosis, but the truth is that it has been well-researched all the way back to the late 1700s when Sir Alexander Crichton (1763–1856) gave a detailed and accurate description of the condition.

2. ADHD is not really about attention: it has been mislabeled and is actually a regulation problem due to the underdevelopment of the frontal lobe in people who have ADHD causing a failure to develop age-appropriate behaviors on schedule with their peers (attention problems are a byproduct of poor regulation).

3. In ADHD, the hyperactivity is caused by the overgrowth of the action part of the brain combined with the low ability to regulate due to the underdevelopment of the frontal lobe.

4. A huge component of ADHD –which is unfortunately not in the diagnostic criteria– is emotional dysregulation which affects every aspect of the ADHD person’s life and especially those who love and care for them.

5. ODD is a byproduct of ADHD which results from the emotional dysregulation combined with anger (often anger about not being understood), and every ADHD person is automatically subclinically ODD.

6. ADHD is the most researched and proven condition of any mental health condition known to man regardless of what culture and media tell you.

7. ADHD people are not addicted to media and video games, but rather media and video games work in a way that gives immediate responses which ADHD people need to stay motivated and focused.

8. ADHD is not a result of lack of discipline or poor parenting, but rather it is a result of how the brain has formed which is usually a result of genetics and can even be identified by genetic markers.

9. ADHD can be proven, there are even brain scans which back up the science proving that it is real, and it is the most treatable condition in psychology even though most ADHD people do not get treated.

10. ADHD needs to be identified and treated –the earlier the better– and there is significant potential damage for children who do not get a diagnoses, treatment, and have knowledge of their own diagnosis (I cannot emphasise enough how important knowledge of the condition is to the healthy psychological development of the child).

11. ADHD is a neurogenetic disorder, and ADHD medication is a scientifically proven neurogenetic treatment.

12. ADHD people are statistically far less likely to become addicts if they are effectively medicated and treated before they get desperate enough to start self-medicating with drugs, tobacco, and alcohol –even the majority of addicts with ADHD do not go back to illegal drugs if they are properly diagnosed and treated for their ADHD (It doesn’t matter what the media says, because the science backs up this position).

13. ADHD people cannot and will not be “normal” –ever– because they have different brains, so normal methods of organization, education, employment, etc will not work for them like it works for those who have neurotypical brains (this is why I endorse homeschooling).

This is a summary of topics discussed in Dr. Barkley’s “30 Essential Ideas You Should Know About ADHD” plus a few additional ideas which have their basis in science. You can find the entire 3-hour video series by Dr Barkley here, and I highly recommend taking the time to listen to the whole thing if you know and care about people who have ADHD or who you think might have ADHD.

If you don’t have 3 hours you can get a taste of the wonderful information available from Dr. Barkley in this video which is about 14 minutes long.

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my blog or follow me on Facebook. You can also download a worksheet to help you evaluate if your child’s ADHD treatment plan is working.


Sarah Forbes

ADHD, getting started homeschooling, homeschooling

How To Plan a Flexible Homeschool Schedule

Schedule is actually a bad word at my house, and I don’t call what we do a schedule.

Maybe more like a plan, but I still put schedule in the title.

Because that is what most people will think of when they see our plan.

This post is a follow up to a previous post I wrote about what to do when mom can’t do school; I came up with a plan of how to do school after some surgeries many years ago.


It turns out that this plan isn’t just for sick and recovering-from-surgery moms –it seems to work really well for moms with ADHD and moms who have ADHD kids.

The beauty of this plan of mine is in its flexibility.

You have a basic plan written out but the freedom to adapt it to whatever you need each day.

How awesome is that?

I have been told that this plan has saved more than one mom’s sanity, allowing her to flexibility to plan each day based on her child’s needs that day or even her needs that day.

For that reason, I am writing a follow-up post with a worksheet to help moms make a schedule like this of their own.

After you have a basic schedule plan made, you can pick and choose each day which of those options you will actually do –this is great if you have days when you are in pain or where a kid is just having meltdowns. You can pick just a few things for today and try again tomorrow.

I hope that this will help other moms find a workable schedule that is flexible enough to work with their special needs children or their own health or mental health issues.

Examples of the worksheet download:How To Plan a Flexible Homeschool Schedule.jpg

How To Plan a Flexible Homeschool Schedule (1).jpg

Download the whole pdf  with instructions for creating your own flexible homeschool plan HERE. 


Sarah Forbes

faith, homeschooling

40 Printable Bible Verse Flash Cards

Due to my children’s learning disabilities, they really struggled with memorization.

For that reason, I backed off Bible verse memorization a while ago and have just recently decided to revisit it.

I started by making a list of verses that I thought were important for them to have memorized and made them into flashcards.

Some of these they already have memorized, and others are simply my favorite verses.

It was important to me to avoid verses that have confusing interpretations.

This is just the start of Bible curriculum I am compiling for my boys.

Here is a sample of the flashcards.

Sample Bible Verse Flash Card.PNG

Download the PDFs (20 flashcards in each PDF; PDFs updated)

Bible Verse Flash Cards 1

Bible Verse Flash Cards 2


Sarah Forbes


Dear Homeschool Curriculum: You’re Not the Boss of Me

Dear Homeschool Curriculum,

You’re not the boss of me.

But, I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure that out.

You are like a stern older teacher looking over her reading glasses at me disapprovingly, making me feel like a huge loser, but I have learned to ignore you.

I wish someone had told me that trying to follow you to the letter of your law would make me miserable.

I wish someone had told me that trying to follow you to the letter of your law would make my children miserable.

I wish someone had told me that strictly adhering to you would make my children resent me and cause problems in our relationship, making them feel like I cared more about your plan than I did them.

I wish someone had told me that not even public school and private school teachers adhere to you legalistically or even complete all of your pages but that they only pick and choose the parts of you that they need for their classes.

I wish someone had told me that the recommendations within your covers were just that —recommendations— and that children have unique needs that do not always, match your cold, rational, black-and-white plan.

I wish someone had told me it was okay to not do everything in your plan –it would have alleviated a lot of homeschool mom guilt when my child learned at his own pace like the unique and individual person that he is instead of in the way you said he was supposed to.

I wish someone had said it’s okay not to finish you and that we didn’t need to double up if we got behind.

I wish someone had told me that my fear of getting behind by not doing all of you was unfounded —that there is no behind in homeschool.

I wish someone had told me that “do the next thing” was a legitimate homeschool schedule and not just taking the easy way out, so I could just ignore whatever schedule was written in your pages.

I wish someone had told me to ignore you when you said to give glitter and glue to a 4-year-old and to do elaborate art projects with my children who have developmental disorders and fine motor skill problems.

I wish someone had told me that I wasn’t depriving my children when skipping the bazillion crafts, science experiments, and various assignments that made my children hate me and made me want to claw my own eyes out.

Even when I did skip those activities I felt guilty because you told me I was supposed to do them, and if I didn’t do what you said, I felt like a failure; I wish someone had said I wasn’t a failure –I was a teacher, and good teachers do what works best for their students to learn.

I wish I had learned earlier that you are not my boss!

You are just a tool —just one tool of many, many tools.

You’re a tool, but you are, by no means, my master.

I’m the master!

You’re a just book —which isn’t even necessarily the best homeschool tool out there!

I wish someone had said that just because other moms worship you and are willing to sacrifice their firstborn to you in the name of “a proper education” does not mean that I had to –and that I would be better without your or with very little of you.

I wish someone had told me that the best learning is not what kids only see in your pages, but that the best learning is multisensory, fun, child-led, and that which the kid doesn’t hate.

I wish someone had told me that media is a completely viable and legitimate learning method –not a cop-out for moms who couldn’t teach “the right way,” that the right way isn’t with books and worksheets: it’s whatever works best for the child.

I wish someone had told me that no child has a life-changing moment when doing one of your boring worksheets and that it was okay to throw it out in favor of joy-filled learning!

I wish someone had told me that putting my child’s needs first was the right way to homeschool.

I wish someone had told me it was okay to use you in any way that worked for me —regardless of your creator’s original intentions.

I wish someone had given me permission to burn you and all your friends if you didn’t work for my child’s needs; to try something new and then to keep trying new things until I found what worked for us with no guilt.

I wish someone had given me permission to free myself of all y’all and just enjoy my children and enjoy teaching them.

I wish I hadn’t been your slave for so long.

I wish someone had told me that our best learning would happen apart from you and that you were a self-imposed prison that I could free myself from.

I wish I had revolted a long time ago and ignored that voice in my head that said that you were “the right way” to educate my children.

I wish I could free the hundreds and thousands of homeschool moms out there who are shackled to you and making their children miserable not knowing they could be free, not realizing that they can say no to any or all of your recommendations or even throw out all of you and your friends if that’s what’s best for their child!

I wish I had followed my children’s interest and preferences a long time ago instead of expecting them to conform their interest to what you were forcing upon them.

I wish I had freed myself long ago from the shame associated with not doing your plan or not completing all your pages.

I wish someone had just told me that it is entirely and wholly right for me to do what worked best for my children regardless of what you or any expert said because you do not know and love my child like I do nor are you invested in them like I am.

I wish someone had told me that it was wrong to force my child to use you if you were causing emotional and psychological damage by pushing too hard or moving too fast or making them feel like a failure.

I wish someone had told me that you-based learning, meaning book-based learning, works really well for only one type of learning style but not all learning styles.

I wish someone had told me that you are a very small part of my children’s real education, that their real education is being my apprentice in real life and that you should never trump exposure to real life situations.

Basically, I wish I had trusted my instincts as a mom over you a long, long time ago.

And, I can guarantee you, I’ll never make that mistake again.

Because, you’re not the boss of me!

You never really were —but I just didn’t know it.


Sarah Forbes

ADHD, getting started homeschooling, homeschooling

You Can’t Force Your Child to Learn

Knowledge is the salary that a child receives from his time invested in schooling.

Just like money is the pay an adult receives for his invested time in a job, an education is the payment a child receives for his time invested in school.

The time and energy invested needs to worth the payment or –-just like an adult-– a kid will quit.

If a worker is forced to work when he doesn’t want to –against his will– that’s slavery.

That’s morally wrong.

Is it any wonder many children hate school?

They are forced –against their will– to do something that they don’t see as valuable.

To them, what they are receiving is not worth what they are being forced to invest!

Let’s be honest, eight hours a day, five days a week, for twelve years is a humongous investment!

Don’t fret if you have a child like this –one who isn’t thrilled with the current system.

You have the power to change this situation!

You can do these two things:

1. You can convince him or her to change what they’re willing to invest, by making your case and explaining the importance, by convincing them that an education is worth it, but …there’s no guarantee that this will work, and you cannot force them to accept it without the child feeling like he or she is a slave and stuck, like they’ve been wronged, and this will cause anger and resentment –it will make everyone miserable. So, you will have to convince them of its value –not just force your way on them. I hope you can make your case convincingly!


2. You can change your educational expectations to something that the child is interested in or something that they are motivated to learn –something that’s worth the time and energy to the child such as… letting them follow their interests, learning at their own pace, using media for school, unschooling, using delight-led learning, gameschooling, worldschooling, lifeschooling or funschoolingbasically changing the approach you use for their education.

Giving the child a voice in what they learn and how makes the child feel like they are not a victim of school: you cease to be a victim when you have power over your future, when you are investing in your own future!

The current method of forced education –which is used in both brick-and-mortar schools and profusely in homeschool— causes damage.

I’m less worried about the kids who scream that it’s not fair than the ones who don’t notice that they’ve been given no choice, the ones that don’t notice that the standard school system approach treats children like they no right of refusal –like they are just cogs in a machine instead of real people with preferences and personalities.

I am very concerned about children who just go along with it without standing up for themselves –more concerned about those kids than the ones who resist.

If you have a child who complains about this treatment, be glad!

You have a child who knows how to stand up for themselves and refuses to be mistreated!

We wouldn’t accept that treatment as adults.

We wouldn’t stand by and allow ourselves to be given no rights, no options, no choices, no individuality, and no respect.

So, why do we force it on our children?

Just because it’s socially acceptable neither makes it morally right nor in the best interest of the child.

Hey, parents, you are selling school –most likely homeschooling if you are reading my blog– to your child.

Your job is to convince them that the investment in education is worth their time.

How good are you doing at selling it?

Do you need to sweeten the deal?

Do you even know what your target audience (i.e. your child) wants?

Do you know what they see as valuable?

What’s important to them?

If the knowledge alone is not enough to motivate them to learn, what can you do to add motivation?

Aside from punishment which will just make them resent school and learning more.

Does your child need a reward system that will add to the payment of knowledge they are receiving for their time invested?

You’re not bribing your child; you’re treating them with the same respect you would expect from someone who is using up your time.

Do you choose to do things you hate with no benefit for it?

You cannot force a child to learn.

It may seem like you can, but even children who go along with forced learning are just learning the minimum to get by and quickly forget it.

I mean, truly, how many of those names and dates from history class do you really remember?

The only children who truly succeed in this system are the ones who comply and do what they are told without asking or caring why.

I don’t want my children to blindly follow and never question why they are being forced into things or why they are not treated with respect.

Learning is like eating: it is a voluntary act.

Learning can only happen when a child is interested. If he’s not interested, it’s like throwing marshmallows at his head and calling it eating. ~ Katrina Gutleben

Your child has to choose to do it.

Imagine the damage that would be done if we threatened our children when they didn’t eat –or worse yet if we force-fed them?

That would be child abuse.

And, yet, in our society, it is socially acceptable to force-feed children information against their will.

Then, we adults get upset and indignant when they resist the force-feeding, resent us, hate school, and don’t remember what they have learned.

We are aghast that by age twelve or thirteen many of them want to jump ship on a system that has been disrespectful to their opinions, preferences, and needs since they were very small.

Our current system is simpler for the adults to implement (i.e. a simpler way to deal with large numbers of children with little adult supervision), therefore the kids are expected to comply –even if it is damaging to them.

The problem isn’t with the kids –have you noticed that the smarter the kid the more likely they are to resist the status-quo method of education?

The problem lies with the expectation that every child be the same, be given the same education, learn in the same way and in the same time.

The problem isn’t the child: it is our approach and our expectations.

So, I dare you to change your expectations.

I challenge you to treat your child with the same respect you would expect and not force them into servitude to a system that does not have their best interest in mind but instead leaves them with a hatred of learning, an inability to see the value in choosing to learn, not striving for excellence, but doing the bare minimum to get by.

It is a system that does not value the child or the child’s needs.

Let your child choose to learn.

Give your child power over their own education –a say in their education.


Sarah Forbes

P.S. For my personal experience with the damage done by the brick-and-mortar approach to education, see this post about Deschooling.

For more information on how I homeschool, see this post about Delight-led Learning and Why Child-directed Education is Vital to Homeschooling.

For more information about letting children learn at their own pace, see this post called There’s No Behind in Homeschool.

Did you know that there are many ways to educate a child, and that the current popular system is neither best for the child nor the most effective? See this video for more information (and don’t let the title put you off –it’s a great video! But there are a few swear words, just a heads-up.).

ADHD, homeschooling

Delight-led Learning and Why Child-directed Education Is Vital to Homeschooling

An introduction and a story

Let’s suppose that you are asked to do a job.

You are told that it is vitally important –but not why it’s important– and you will not get paid.

Not a penny.

And, it’s very hard work.

You start by moving a large pile of dirt from one area in the lot to another area marked by newspaper held down by rocks.

Load by load, you shovel the dirt into the wheelbarrow in the blistering heat and haul it across the lot, dumping it in the prescribed location.

By the end of the day, you are wondering what on earth is going on, why you are doing this, and if it is really worth it for no pay.

A few weeks later, you are called back to the site, and the boss tells you that today, you will be moving that same pile from where you were to down the road and putting it in the park in another area marked again by the newspaper and rocks.

You shake your head and remind yourself that this is vitally important.

They told you when you started that it was very important, and you want to believe them.

So, you grab your shovel and your wheelbarrow and head out to move that same silly pile of dirt from here down to the next newspaper-marked location.

This repeats a few more times, and as the summer heat skyrockets into the 100-degree mark, you sigh again, reminding yourself that this work is vitally important.

They said it was: they said to trust them, that it is making a difference.

But, how does moving a pile of dirt around the neighborhood make a difference?

And, how can you justify the amount of time and energy is going into this when you have no idea what is going on and nothing to show for your work?.

“Trust me: this is important” is no longer sufficient.

You decide that this stinks, and you don’t want to do manual labor for free, not matter how “vital” it is.

So, you set down your shovel and go home.

A few days later, the job leader shows up on your doorstep and asks if he can have a few minutes of your time.

He walks you down to the lot where you first moved the dirt pile around.

In the dirt, you see little lines of sprouts and labels of various vegetable names.

The square is labeled “community mini garden.”

He explains that all around the neighborhood, a group of thoughtful people had been planting and tending little gardens that would yield produce and be handed out and shared with the community –particularly with those who needed it.

Your work was vitally important: you were killing off weeds with your dirt-piled newspaper patches.

You laid the foundation for 6 gardens before you decided you’d had enough.

The problem was that no one had told you what was going on.

No one had explained the reason this action was valuable.

No one explained why it was vital, why it was important.

♥ ♥ ♥ For my fellow moms with ADHD, I want to apologize ahead of time for the length of this post. I try to keep my posts to about 1000 words, but this one is very, very long. Someone asked me to explain how and why I use delight-led learning, and I didn’t feel I could do it justice in a shorter space. I added labels, italics, and breaks in hopes it would make it easier for my shiny friends to navigate. ♥ ♥ ♥

Story application

Without a reason to do work no one —not even adults— will work hard.

For most adults, they will even do a job that they completely hate for enough money –because they have decided that the money they need is worth the hassle, aggravation, sweat, and tears the job takes from them.

The value is in the results, and they are willing to work for the results.

Once the job becomes more hassle than the money is worth, adults stop doing the work and move on to a new job.

This is human nature.

The task has to have value.

Children are no different.

When it comes to learning, they need to see the value in what they are doing.

How many times in school did you think “Why on earth am I learning this?” or “When am I ever going to use this?”

Story 2, my own experience

I remember in 7th grade, I had just aced a test in homeschool.

We were using a video program, and I had memorized all the countries and capitals of Europe and gotten 100% on my exam.

In my enthusiasm, I promptly recited them all to my father as soon as he walked in the door from work.

He started grinning and chuckling –much to my confusion.

“SallyBeth,” he said –that was his nickname for me, “Most of those countries don’t exist anymore.”

He was right: the video that we were using for history and geography had been taped a few years prior –before the fall of the Iron Curtain.

I can still recite it: Bonn, West Germany; Berlin, East Germany; Prague Czechoslovakia; Sofia, Bulgaria; Athens, Greece; Moscow, Russia; and so on.

But, it was mostly useless information even then –just taking up space in my brain.

I was told to memorize it, and I did –just like I was told –trusting that if the teacher said it was important, then it was.

Believe me: it was not.

Not one time in my entire life have I needed to know the capital of Czechoslovakia –a country that doesn’t even exist anymore.

Now, if Dr Who picks me up and time-travels me back in time to Soviet USSR, I might be glad that I know where Czechoslovakia is.

But, since I don’t see a trip on the TARDIS happening anytime soon, I have filed that geography test in “Useless Things I Was Forced to Memorize.”

There needs to be value in what our children do, and they need to see the value in what they are doing.

Or they will resent it, just like I resented the amount of time and energy it took to memorize completely useless and out-of-date geographical locations.

I never expect my child to learn something without first explaining the value of what they are learning and how that will apply to their lives later on.

If I can’t prove that it will be valuable –like memorizing every bone in the hand at age 8 just to be able to say you did it– we don’t do it.

If your child wants to be a doctor and loves to memorize the names of bones, then that is a completely different issue because —to that child— this information is valuable.

This is what I mean by child-directed education: an education based on their needs and interests.

Children resent a valueless education.

Our culture worships education.

It is the altar at which we throw thousands and thousands of dollars and are even willing to sacrifice our children’s emotional, psychological –and sometimes even physical– wellbeing to because we have been told that it’s worth achieving this ideal of knowledge.

I do believe that an education has value, but only when it doesn’t damage the child.

Many of our current methods are quite frankly damaging.

Learning can only happen when a child is interested. If he’s not interested, it’s like throwing marshmallows at his head and calling it eating.” ~ Katrina Gutleben

When they are young, it can be really challenging to show the child the value of doing hard things.

It is too much to expect a young child to do hard things.

That is why I advocate for keeping learning fun and as enjoyable as possible when they are young.

Until maybe age 9 or 10, most of what a child needs to learn can be taught in an enjoyable way.

Remember that homeschooling was started by people who thought formal book learning should wait until the child was age 9 or 10.

Before that, you want to teach them that learning is fun!

It doesn’t have to be book learning and sheets of paper!

Forcing children to learn using only text books is like showing them a travel brochure and calling it a vacation.

We want to teach them to value learning.

The acquisition of information is the currency that you will use to pay your young workers for their time in education later on.

So, that acquisition of information needs to be seen valuable –and the time invested needs to be worth the reward to them.

It will not be seen as valuable if your child has never experienced the joy and love of learning.

This is absolutely key to child-directed learning and to having a peaceful homeschool experience in my opinion: you need to instill a joy of learning in your child at a young age or deschool the child if the school system or homeschool system killed his joy for learning.

See more about deschooling here.

All kids love to learn; it is we adults who either nurture or kill that joy.

Children are born with all the curiosity they will ever need. It will last a lifetime if they are fed upon a daily diet of ideas. –Charlotte Mason

Example 1 of child-led learning

I started out with a more traditional approach to homeschooling, and in our early days classes including math, grammar, reading, and writing were non-negotiable.

That was before I knew about my son’s dysgraphia.

Writing caused him pain and panic attacks, and —to save this mama from losing her ever-lovin mind— I had to back off.

I backed off entirely unless he could do it without freaking out or unless he asked to do it.

I stumbled into delight-led accidentally because my son’s struggles necessitated it.

You can struggle for weeks to teach a child to identify colors before they are ready or you can do it in a few moments when they are ready to learn.

It was his choice when we did writing –I encouraged him to try every once in awhile to see if he could do it without pain.

I was ecstatic when I stumbled upon a page describing delight-led learning –which is what we were doing even though I didn’t know it was a thing with an actual name.

It showed me that we can wait without damaging the child.

There are even plenty of studies that show the benefit of starting later for many topics and classes: I have seen studies showing kids learning everything you could learn in grammar between 1st grade and 9th –with no prior grammar experience– learn everything from those 9 years in only one year because the child was older and able to learn it all at once.

The spiral approach isn’t the best or the only way to learn, but the public school has to fill up 8 hours a day for 12 years with learning; we do not.

What I didn’t expect was the damage that was done by me pushing him when he wasn’t ready.

When the flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which the flower grows, not the flower. –Alexander Den Heijer

Even with delight-led learning, I did not remove my expectation that the three Rs would be done regularly –not daily because we don’t actually do school books daily: it is more like 3 or 4 days a week.

Adherence to the 3Rs is what makes my approach different from unschooling, even if I am not rigid in my adherence.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the 3Rs, that’s the basics of any education: Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. (I know: it is not really 3Rs, but I didn’t make it up. That is just what they call it. The OCD part of me rolls my eyes at the misuse of R and moves on.)

I simply had to adapt the 3Rs to what was doable for my child.

Not all children are ready to learn the same thing as the same time in the same way. –Kathy Walker

For writing, he would dictate things to me, I would write them, and he would tell me how to punctuate it, so he was still getting sentence formation practice.

Or, we would draw on the sidewalk and work on motor control.

Or, we would trace giant letters I had made on card stock with glitter glue.

But, I didn’t push handwriting (cursive or print) again until he was ready.

He came to me one day and said that he wanted to learn to spell and write better.

He was about 12 years old.

He had a basic ability to write before that, but it was very tedious and took him a very long time to form even one word.

When he decided he was ready because he saw the value, we moved forward with learning to write better.

Even with a learning disability, you don’t want to emotionally scar the child over learning by pushing.

This is an extreme example– professional help may have been better but it was not available in our area– however, this shows that children can and do learn at a different pace than we expect and that their direct involvement in choosing to learn can have a huge impact!

By the way, he is 15 now and can write his name, write a sentence, etc.; although, he still prefers typing and probably always will –just like I will never prefer to mental math, but I can do it if I have to.

Example 2 of child-led learning

With my younger son, I have had to apply the child-led philosophy a different way: in math, he gets overwhelmed very easily.

Unlike me, I don’t think he actually has a math-based learning disability, but think he has slow processing problems.

For this reason, it can take him a long time to do math.

I stopped assigning a whole page of math to him (like I did his brother) in about first grade and haven’t since.

He has to do 3 problems or as many as he wants –if he wants to do more, that’s fine.

Sometimes, he does more.

Sometimes, he comes to me and says “Mom, my brain isn’t working today. Can I just do one problem?”

I am a benevolent dictator, and have pity on my poor struggling subjects who actually like to learn but have ADHD, hyperdrive brains that sometimes do not cooperate.

If today is not a good day, we try again tomorrow.

It’s better to wait until later if their brains are struggling then to cause damage by forcing learning when their brains are shutting off.

It doesn’t matter how fast they are learning as long as they are learning.

It shouldn’t matter how slowly a child learns as long as we are encouraging them not to stop. –Robert John Meehan

Making a big deal of how slowly they are going is the opposite of encouraging them not to stop.

Check your state laws before implementing this idea because some states dictate what must be learned when and– though I don’t agree with that philosophy– I also don’t want you to get into trouble.

Children don’t learn at a steady pace like we want them too.

Children do much of their learning in great bursts of passion and enthusiasm. Except for those physical skills which can’t be learned any other way. Children rarely learn on the slow, steady schedules that schools make for them. They are more likely to be insatiably curious for a while about some particular interest, and to read, write, and talk, and ask questions about it for hours a day and for days on end. Then suddenly they may drop that interest and turn to something completely different, or even for a while seem to have no interests at all. This usually means that for the time being they have all the information on that subject that they can digest and need to explore the world in a different way or perhaps simply get a firmer grip on what they already know. –John Holt in How Children Learn

My children do not learn the way I expected them to when I started off on this journey called homeschooling.

I thought that I would be the mom who was in a room set up like a classroom, with a chalkboard and vintage desks, doing regular lesson plans, and creating lots of papers to show for our work.

It turns out my children hated –loathed —is there a stronger word than loathed?— learning that way.

They had a visceral hatred for worksheets.

My classroom now is my children teaching themselves, mostly on a computer –because that is how they like to learn.

They chose their classes.

They also chose not to stop once summer started this year.

Yes, you heard correctly.

I gave them the option to take summer break, and they chose –much to my surprise and amusement– not to stop for summer break because they decided they had not learned enough this year to justify a break.

If I had forced them into my mold of education instead of following what worked best for them, I can guarantee that they would be fighting me right now and not taking charge of their own education.

This is unschooling-ish but not quite as extreme.

If you are familiar with unschooling, you will see that some of my ideas are similar to unschooling, but I do not believe in letting the child have complete control over their education.

For example, that is why we have set classes that must be taken –the 3Rs we talked about earlier.

Everything else is completely delight-led –unless I am feeling well enough to actually lead and teach a class which happens from time to time.

Reading, science, history, and Bible is usually interest based: they ask questions, and we find answers.

Or, they watch (approved) Youtube or Netflix videos on topics that interest them.

Or, we they read as much about the topic as they can find –Google is our friend!

I have a ton of robotics-related books because my oldest was completely obsessed with robots as a grade schooler and we bought every book we could get out hands on –choosing that over the library because we could never return books on time.

If I had made an assignment, divided up the book, and scheduled how much he had to read when, I would have killed his joy of reading and learning about it.

I can just imagine how frustrating it would have been for him in school if he had gotten in trouble for reading ahead in his favorite class like I did: that’s the way to squash any joy a child has in gaining information, in seeing the value in learning.

Letting him read it for the pure joy of reading it and letting him read as much as he wanted to meant he was pursuing his own learning and learning to love the joy that learning brings.

This is preparing them for harder learning.

The argument I hear all the time is “How will they learn to do hard things if you don’t make them do hard work when they are young?”

I have even been accused of spoiling my children –an idea which I fully reject.

With delight-led or child-led learning, they learn the value of learning young, and they they are willing to trade their time for the valuable commodity of information when they get older.

Play –especially when they are young– is teaching them the value of learning!

Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood. –Mister Rogers

My 15 year old has spent hours upon hours painstakingly typing instructions for a game he made.

Writing is not his forte, but he sees the value in learning to spell, write, etc so that he can create his game rules.

I am supposed to be helping him edit it –except I forgot about it until I just wrote this sentence (oops).

That is teaching him to pursue things that he wants to do.

To pursue hard learning because it is valuable to him.

I am honestly not a huge fan of college because of the school model it follows –my educational philosophy differs– and because of the enormous expense, but if one of my children chose to pursue a degree I have no doubt that they could do it because they know the value of learning.

It’s so much more than just letting the kid do whatever the heck he wants.

It is channeling the child’s passions.

What to do if they are behind

First of all, I reject the entire idea of behind and wrote an entire blog post about it.

You can read that blog post here: There’s No Behind in Homeschool.

But if perchance your child gets to the graduating age, and the child isn’t ready to graduate?

There are a number of options:

1. Let school last longer than 12 years. Who said school had to stop at grade 12? The same people who arbitrarily decided that children belong in rooms of all the same age group and should learn the same info at the same time. The same people who set up the entire system of education that is failing thousands of students resulting in the mass exodus that is the homeschool movement. If you don’t trust them with your child, why do you trust them with their schedule? Do what works for your family. We will graduate when my children think they are ready to graduate. Not a moment sooner.

2. Send them to college for classes to fill in the gaps. No one –not even public school teachers –teach the child everything they needs to know in 12 years. Anyone who tells you that the school can give the child everything they need is drinking the kool aid. Spit it out: it’s poison. Tons and tons of kids take basic classes in college, and there is no shame in that. This is especially true for children with developmental problems or learning disabilities which make learning more challenging. If you are going to let your child learn at their own pace, that means that you have to allow for them to be “behind” if that is where their pace is.

3. Let them graduate anyway. Unless you live in a state that dictates what you must do when and how many classes a child must have to graduate, let them move on. This is a lifestyle of learning, and you have trained them in this way of life. I know that this a completely different way of doing things, but you have to know that they will keep learning. If you teach them to teach themselves they will just fill in the gaps as they need it. In this age of the internet, they have practically the entirety of the knowledge of mankind at their fingertips. If they want to know, they can learn! A child who truly loves to learn isn’t going to stop.

Your job is not to teach your children everything but to give them the skills to learn on their own. —Meaghan Newell

So, what does a school day at my house look like?

At our house, my children get up and start school as soon as they have eaten breakfast.

We save chores until afterward so that they can focus their energy on learning.

My 15 year old does school at the kitchen table, and my 12 year old does school on the couch.

We have a classroom that we do not use– it currently contains boxes of craft supplies.

These are the classes they chose to do for the summer:

Reading (at least 10 minutes of anything they want),

Math (my older child is doing CTC math online; my younger child is doing online games until I figure out how to sign into Math U See… I procrastinated again),

And typing/writing (the older child feels like he needs more spelling, so he types out lists of spelling words he finds online; the younger child is currently hand writing the book of Proverbs because he likes writing the Bible verses).

This takes them about an hour or so.

We watch educational TV shows, and they spend the afternoons right now educating themselves about Minecraft via YouTube (only approved channels like Stampy Cat and Etho).

They have daily chores they do usually around dinner time, and a list of chores they do a few times a week to earn video game time.

I consider all of it –the Youtube time, chores, book work, shopping, going to doctor appointments –to be part of school.

The best education is the one that prepares you for adulthood –and let’s be honest: the public school system does a poor job of preparing students for adulthood.

My children are living and growing beside me, learning as my apprentices.

I know for a fact that my 15 year old can run a house –because he cooks and cleans when I am unable to.

This and more are things that he would not get sitting in a classroom for 8 or 10 hours a day and they are vital parts of his education.

What did a school day look like in grade school?

I will be honest with you: I did this –delight-led learning– when they are in grade school but thought that I was failing miserably by following their lead and not making them do school work like I was “supposed” to.

I was sure I was ruining them for a while.

But I was wrong.

It worked so well, and they were learning way more than I thought they were!

So, when they were littler and if I wasn’t too sick, I would read them a section from “Leading Little Ones to God.”

If I was too sick to read, I would have the older one read to the younger one.

Then they would do math.

We did Math U See, so on Monday we would watch the DVD and play with the blocks if necessary to explain the concepts.

The next few days they tried to do a whole page, but often didn’t get the whole thing done. I would circle every other problem on the page, and if they got those done, they didn’t have to do any more.

This worked really well for the older one but not the younger who really does better with a few problems a day as described above.

We just did the next page –no schedule– and this is still how we do it: schedule is a bad word at my house.

I don’t care if they get the whole sheet done.

I care if they understand the concept.

For many ADHD people once they get the concept they don’t need to do 50 more problems.

If you make them do 50 more problems after they get the concept you will kill any enjoyment they have.

I tried grammar with them at this age, and it did not click.

I would explain things, and they just stared at me.

This was hard because I love grammar —I know: I am weird.

So, we focused on phonics until they were older, closer to 4 or 5th grade which was fine with me because I didn’t even have grammar until 4th grade.

For phonics we use Spelling to Read and Write, but as a person with ADHD, the curriculum was completely overwhelming.

I used just the flash cards, and we made games out of it that I combined that with some of the games in the book “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.”

If it got too hard my anxious child would have panic attacks so that was my radar for when it was getting to be too much.

I couldn’t justify pushing him when I knew his anxiety would go through the roof. (We tried medication, but that is a long story.)

Reading was always mandatory… they had to read something.

But I didn’t care what –the bible, the dictionary, a comic book, or a novel.

Just read something.

Sometimes they even weasel in Minecraft Wiki for reading –I roll my eyes and go with it.

It is still reading –even if it isn’t my kind of reading.

I also read out loud to them when they were young.

I didn’t always require them to read by themselves if I had spent an hour reading to them.

We read the entire Little House on the Prairie series and a few other books.

For a while I couldn’t read out loud due to complications from my illness, but I recently started again.

We finished The Little Pilgrim’s Progress last fall, and we were reading Swiss Family Robinson, except the version I have is in very complicated English which requires extra function from my mom-brain.

Afternoon time

After those subjects were done, we had free learning time.

Everything I could get my hands on for sciencey books and history TV shows (age appropriate, of course) was allowed during this time.

We did Mythbusters, Cyber Chase, Liberty’s Kids, Drive Thru History, etc.

It all counted as school in my book.

If I knew they were interested in a topic, I would track down books, movies, audio books, puzzles, and games —whatever I could find-– to encourage them to learn.

But, I never forced them to learn –it was their choice.

I would say, “Now’s reading time. Choose something off the shelf to read,” but, never, “You will read pages 16-20 of ACB Science between now and 2 PM.”

I have wondered if I was doing my children a disservice by educating them this way, because let’s admit it, moms: no matter what we do or how good we are, we have doubts.

My son told me once that even when I was too sick to do school (which I have a whole post about, here) they were still learning.

He says they learn the value of friendship and to be brave from watching Lord of the Rings.

They learn to be noble and stand up for people by watching super hero cartoons.

When properly chosen, the TV and all media can be a useful tool –especially for ADHD children who learn really well via that means.

Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. –C.S. Lewis

In conclusion

This method might not work for everyone.

I am not saying it is the only way to homeschool.

It is just the way that has worked for us.

It seems to work really well with ADHD children who need to be able to use their hyperfocus to motivate them to learn more because they can follow whatever their passion is.

It has motivated my children to take control of their own education.

When there is a class my teen doesn’t want to take, we discuss if it will be necessary for his path in the future, how hard it will be for him to learn the information later if he needs it, and we have a discussion.

I do not force classes because I don’t have to.

I also don’t think I have the entire say in his education.

It is his life, too.

If he doesn’t want to take advanced math and doesn’t think he needs it, I will not argue with him.

I respect his opinion too much to force my way on him.

If I disagree, we will have a conversation about it, and come to a compromise.

This –the ability to have a rational and civil conversation about something important –above anything else that we have done– is truly preparing him for real life one day.

I feel like there is more to say, but this post is so long that I am going to stop here. Maybe I will write a part two at a later time.

Hopefully, that gives my readers insight into what I mean by delight-led learning

If my ideas seem completely odd and original to you, I promise they are not: there are even brick-and-mortar schools that have embraced the idea of putting the child in control of their own education. You can see more about it in this YouTube video.


Sarah Forbes

Sarah Forbes