Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may struggle with keeping their train of thought on one track. They may get fidgety, move around in their seat, or generally seem disinterested in what’s going on in the classroom. Turn the classroom into a home environment, and there are that many more distractions. But never fear, parent-educator, with a few changes to your teaching strategy, you can enjoy a successful homeschool year despite ADHD.
Adjusting Your Expectations
One of the first things that you should remember is that in a traditional classroom setting, schools make extensive accommodations for ADHD students. And you will need to do the same. Non-profit Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) explains that some of these include reducing repeat assignments, relying more on visually-stimulating computers for engagement, and breaking work down into bite-sized chunks.
Just as the schools understand that your child’s brain runs at a pace that far exceeds other students, you must also put yourself in their shoes. Do not expect them to sit quietly and focus on a single subject for hours on end. You must accept that their interests will change quickly, and adjust your teaching strategy accordingly.
A few ways that you can do this are to:
- Draft an IEP. An IEP, or individual education plan, is a document provided in a public or private school setting. In essence, it is an outline of your child’s learning differences and a plan of action for how to best accommodate it. An IEP should contain your and your child’s concerns about their learning style plus clear goals to master for the school year.
- Focus on reading skills. A common concern among parents with students with ADHD is poor reading comprehension. Prioritize literacy every day, starting during the preschool years. Read with your student often and help them learn to better interpret the information on the page. Ask them questions about what you’ve read, and never lose sight of the fact that reading skills will benefit them in every area.
- Let them listen to music. Music is typically frowned upon in a traditional classroom setting. However, when you have a child that struggles to maintain their focus, music can be a blessing. Choosing the right music, however, might get tricky, and Honestly ADHD explains that you might need to try several different styles before you find the one that works for your child.
- Get help when you need it. A classroom teacher does not do their job alone. They have a team of administrators, lead educators, and other professionals that help make decisions and evaluate classroom needs. If you realize that you and your child are still struggling to handle online work, do not be afraid to find a tutor that can help. Before you book a session, however, talk to your child about how they feel about getting a helping hand. You should also get recommendations from people you trust and ask to see teaching credentials, especially if they claim experience with students with ADHD.
There are many benefits of transitioning a child with ADHD to a homeschool envrionment. They’ll be more comfortable in their own home and have fewer social distractions. But it does require a new mindset on your part and a few changes to how you interpret a successful home education. While the above is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to teaching a student at home, these touchpoints can help you better learn to master the art of becoming a special needs teacher.