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In the short two years that we have been homeschooling, I’ve learned a great many things about my children and how to assist them in their learning. However, the biggest learning curve of all came from working with my extremely active, creative, and amazingly thoughtful 10 year old daughter. She was diagnosed with ADHD in Kindergarten, though if I’m honest, we knew from about 3 years old when she climbed walls to overturn 6 foot high shelves and scaled the door frame of her closet to sleep on the shelf at the top.
She struggled in school, not only focusing on the the teacher and her work, but also with making friends. Her impulse control was minimal at best and she often came home with a pocket full of things she’d “picked up” throughout the day. Sending those items back with an apology note was a tough pill to swallow!
After many attempts to work with her school, homeschool seemed the best option. This was not an easy decision though. With twin toddlers at home with nonverbal Autism and a household to run, I was worried it would be too much. However, motivation overcomes fears! The negative attitudes that surrounded her at school and her own complaints were enough to convince me. She needed a different educational environment, but how was I going to create it?
The first step was to sit down with my daughter and ask her what she would like to see and do for “school.” While I didn’t expect her to outline specific details of her favorite curriculum, I figured that if I was going to customize her education to her needs, she should have input. Her response was pretty simple, “More Art and playing outside, less worksheets.” That, I can work with! I also did a great deal of research about ADHD and how I could meet her sensory needs while we worked. Here is what I found: movement and balancing while reading feeds her body’s need for input and increases retention, quiet background noise and natural light helps her focus, and taking frequent breaks for intense physical activity allows her to release her built up energy so that returning to work afterward isn’t stressful.
We began implementing each part of this strategy, experimenting until we found just the right mix. For reading time, she preferred to read upside down and/or moving. So, it was not usual to find her in our rocking chair, hanging off the edge of the couch with her head on the floor and feet against the back, or precariously balanced on blocks a foot above the chair. Her comprehension and fluency improved until she moved on to more difficult books voluntarily!
Adding in background white noise or low classical music gave her enough sensory input to help her focus on her weakest subject, Math. Purchasing a trampoline for the back yard and an enormous memory foam chair/crash pad has been extremely helpful for those “busy body” breaks. These changes were not small ones and are not feasible expectations for a public school, but I am very thankful that we have the ability to provide this environment for her. We also have a bigger focus on art and hands-on projects in her curriculum, which has opened up a new world for her. I am thrilled to see her excited to learn instead of avoiding anything that related to schoolwork.
Do you have a child with ADHD? What tips or tricks have helped your child focus on schoolwork and enjoy learning? Comment below or on our Facebook page!