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I have a little girl who struggles a lot with Attention Deficit Disorder. It is a big challenge for her, but also for the whole family, especially with homeschooling. I am going to share some of the struggles as well as some tips for homeschooling with ADD. I love this darling girl of mine and have struggled with writing this for some time now because I don’t want to just share all of the negatives of this amazing girl. So don’t take this the wrong way. She is a light in my life and to so many others. Yes, it has been a struggle, but I love her through it all!
We have a history of ADD in my family. I have not personally had that struggle, but a few of my siblings do, as well as my father. They were never diagnosed until they were adults, but always struggled with focus, organization and other aspects related to ADD. We don’t seem to have the hyperactivity issues, mostly just the attention issues.
When I started homeschooling it was because my oldest had higher than average intelligence. My second child came along and is a whole different type of learner. She is artistic and flits about from one thing to another. She really struggled with learning to read and with any type of organization. She also had regular melt-downs. She could not keep her room clean to save her life, and could not really clean her toys without someone sitting by her telling her which thing to do next. Every choice was a major issue.
Having a husband as a therapist can really be a huge help! He deals with ADD/ADHD issues on a regular basis and helped me recognize her struggles as an attention issue. He also knew how to talk her through her emotional issues and taught me how to handle it in a calmer way. My husband helped me through the tests they give for diagnosing ADD/ADHD in children. There are different tests for parents and for teachers to take. Since I am both to my daughter, I took both tests- one as a parent and one as a teacher. My daughter topped the charts on the inattentive scale. When I saw the results, it made me realize that our struggles were not personality or parenting issues. I felt like I finally was beginning to understand her and know how to deal with her. While everyone has differing opinions and feeling about medications (and I would REALLY rather not argue these points on this post), we did choose to medicate her for her ADD. We chose the smallest possible dose, but it made all the difference in the world. It was a VERY hard choice for me to make because I have always tried to avoid medications as much as possible. However, I do not regret choosing this route for our daughter. It has been a night and day change for this sweet girl, and I am grateful to have the option.
Symptoms of ADD in Children:
- Careless mistakes
- Not paying attention to details
- Easily distracted, trouble staying focused
- Seems to never listen to you
- Has trouble remembering things and following through with instructions
- Not able to stay organized
- Gets bored with projects or tasks before completed
- Regularly loses things
- Constantly wiggling
- Often leaves seat when sitting quietly is expected
- Moves around constantly
- Talks excessively
- Has difficulty playing quietly
- May lose temper easily
- Often impulsive- acting without thinking
The second half of the list tends to be seen more in those with hyperactivity. (source) Some children struggle with inattentiveness as well as hyperactivity. Overall, though, it is the same disorder and kids may have a combination of any of the above symptoms. If you think your child is struggling with this, there is a free test online that you can check out. But I do recommend seeking professional advice for a diagnosis.
Positive Effects of ADD / ADHD in Children:
Having Attention Deficit disorder is not all bad. There are some wonderful parts of it as well. Most people who have ADD / ADHD have some of these incredible qualities:
- Highly artistic or creative- their heads are full of marvelous daydreams and ideas
- May notice things that others do not see
- Flexible and open to new and different ideas
- Enthusiastic about life
- Lots of energy and drive for the things that matter most to them
Tips for Homeschooling with ADD Children:
Since I was already homeschooling when I realized the problems my daughter was having with her ADD, I was so grateful that I had made that choice. I know the struggle that kids can have in school if they have this disorder. I saw so many kids growing up fall through the cracks because of learning challenges and disorders. I also saw the struggles my brothers had in school. I think having her home with me has made her feel so successful in her education. She is thriving! I have learned so much the past few years from parenting and teaching her. It has made me a more patient and understanding mother and I feel like I am able to handle the problems that come with it in a much better way. Following are a few things that have helped me get through our homeschool days with less stress.
- Keep Calm!!! This has been the biggest issue for me. I used to get so frustrated with her behavior because I didn’t understand why she was acting the way she was. I have learned that when I get upset, it only escalates her frustrations. When I learned to control myself and my emotions, it is so much easier to support her.
- Limit distractions. My daughter is very easily distracted by things going on in the house. Often she will cry and say that it is too loud for her to concentrate. Sometimes the best thing is for her to take her school books and sit alone on her bed where nobody was talking, playing, or doing something that may distract her.
- Give clear, simple instructions. Give instructions one at a time. She gets overwhelmed by having to do too many things at once. Sometimes it is best to just give instructions for one thing and let her finish that item before telling her about the next one.
- Be close to offer assistance as needed. If she can’t figure out what to do in a school book, she is quick to melt to a puddle and give up. However if I am close by and calmly walk her through it, the issues go away more quickly.
- Allow breaks for movement and snacks as needed. It is ok to give a 5 minute run-around break if that’s what your child needs- especially in a homeschool! Sometimes involving food is the best way to keep them engaged! It’s also ok to let them walk around or do something movement related while you read to them. My daughter loves to color or paint while I read history or science to her. Often I will print out a coloring page related to what we are reading. It keeps her really focused!
- Offer regular encouragement and support without comparisons. I think my little girl is aware that she learned differently than her older brother. I try really hard to support her in her struggles and encourage her wherever needed. But I do not ever point out her weaknesses to her or compare her style of learning to her brother’s. I do, however make sure to point out her strengths and to praise her for them. She needs to know what she is good at and gain confidence in herself.
It is definitely possible to be successful at homeschooling a child with ADD or ADHD. In fact it may be a much better option for your kids. Yes, there will be struggles and very hard days, but you can help your child learn the way they need to learn. You can guide them with the one-on-one support that they need. You can help them feel confidence and security in who they are!