Homeschooling may not be the right choice for every child, but it can offer many benefits for children with ADHD.
Homeschooling is not a new phenomenon, yet more parents and guardians are considering this option to educate their children.
For children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), shifting to home-based learning may offer certain advantages over the traditional school environment. This might be especially true if public or private school isn’t meeting their needs.
If you’re thinking about homeschooling your child with ADHD, you probably have many questions and concerns. And this is to be expected as you contemplate changing the direction of your child’s educational journey.
To help you sort through it all, let’s take a closer look at homeschooling for ADHD to determine if it’s something that might work for you and your child.
Homeschooling is educating school aged children in an environment other than the traditional public or private school setting. It differs slightly from distance learning, which is when a student attends classes through virtual means.
Data from the U.S. Department of Education indicates that about 1.7 million children were homeschooled in the United States in 2016.
When a child is homeschooled, parents, grandparents, or guardians typically choose and implement the curriculum.
Sometimes the student is educated by a tutor or online teacher through a homeschool program. Still, the child’s parent or caregiver is the person who chooses which curriculum to follow.
Also, there are several methods of homeschooling to choose from, each with distinct differences. This offers flexibility to create a program that’s right for your child.
If your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may be wondering if there’s a real difference between learning at home versus going to school.
To look into this further, researchers from the National Home Education Research Institute conducted a scientific review to compare the data between homeschooling and traditional school in neurotypical students.
They found that homeschooled students have test scores that are consistently above average.
As far as social development, the review found no differences in self-concept or passivity among homeschooled students and those in a traditional program.
Researchers also discovered that homeschooled children had lower problem behavior scores than students attending public or private school.
But what about students with ADHD? Is homeschooling a better option?
Although the research data is limited, a doctoral dissertation by Melissa Felkins for Walden University may offer some insight.
Felkins investigated the personal experiences of 12 homeschooled students with ADHD symptoms ages 12 to 21 years old to reveal how homeschooling impacted their lives.
Felkins found that “students who learn in a structured, yet flexible environment where they can go at their own pace, have one-on-one instruction, and utilize focusing tools that meet their individual needs tend to report the most gratification with their academic progress.”
Her research suggests that children with ADHD seem to thrive in a structured yet adaptable environment with personalized teaching methods, and homeschooling can be structured to meet that need.
Felkins’ research was a qualitative study. So the results presented were true only for the 12 students who participated. More research is needed in this area to get a clearer and better picture of whether homeschooling is a better option for children with ADHD.
If you’re considering home-based education for your child, this is probably the question that keeps you awake at night. To help figure out what’s best for your family, it may be a good idea to consider the potential benefits and challenges of homeschooling.
There are a variety of reasons you may be considering homeschool for your child with ADHD. Some of those include:
- your son or daughter may be experiencing bullying or a negative school environment
- your child has nutritional needs that are difficult to implement in the school setting
- your child’s learning style doesn’t fit the curriculum offered in school
- you want your child to learn in ways that align with your beliefs and values
Also, for students with ADHD, feeling safe and understood is necessary before learning can happen. In some cases, the homeschool environment may be the better option to accommodate that need.
However, homeschooling doesn’t come without challenges.
- Homeschooling can feel like a full-time job, especially at the beginning.
- Your child may not follow instructions or respond appropriately to you as well as they would another adult.
- Like working from home, homeschooling comes with distractions that can be difficult to manage.
- Some parents find they must reduce their work hours or quit their job to accommodate homeschooling.
- The cost of homeschool may be a factor for some families.
- If you live in the United States, you may need to abide by homeschooling laws in your state.
If you’ve decided to homeschool your child, you may be wondering what to do next. Plenty of resources exist that can help you successfully navigate this educational pathway.
Consider, first, searching out the legal requirements in your state. You can also learn more by visiting government websites for information on what you need to do to begin the homeschool process.
Once you have the legalities in order, the next step is to decide how homeschooling will look for your child.
Some questions to consider include:
What’s the best homeschool curriculum for ADHD?
Because it’s the core of your homeschool program, deciding on which curriculum to use can seem daunting. However, once you figure out what method of homeschooling fits your child best, you can then focus on finding the curriculum that meets their needs.
Several homeschool curriculum options are available for students with ADHD, each tailored to specific learning styles. If you’re worried about choosing the wrong one, keep in mind that you can always change the curriculum if you discover the one you selected isn’t working for your child.
Who will do the teaching?
Although you’re probably thinking of taking on the teaching tasks yourself, there are alternatives if you find this option a bit overwhelming.
For example, if budget allows, you could consider hiring a private tutor or teacher to come to your home or teach virtually.
Another option is combining efforts with other families in your area to create a homeschool pod.
How will you provide socialization opportunities?
Socializing is a critical component of child development, and this need is sometimes more easily met in the traditional school environment. Still, you can also provide social opportunities for your homeschooled child with ADHD by actively reaching out to organizations in your community.
Here are some options to consider:
- Join a local homeschool support group.
- Contact your school district to see if your child can participate in extra-curricular activities and sports.
- Enroll your child in music or dance lessons or martial arts classes.
Although home-based learning can be highly beneficial for some students and families, mistakes will happen even in the best-case scenario. Try not to feel defeated if they occur, as homeschooling is a learn-as-you-go process for both you and your child.
To help avoid some of the common pitfalls you may encounter, consider these tips:
- Have a solid support system in place before you begin.
- Provide a designated work space that’s free of noise and distractions, if possible.
- Create a structured yet flexible schedule that offers planned breaks.
- Make a rule that you will not do the work for your child when things get challenging.
- Have a plan to ensure you’re taking time for yourself.
- Keep your expectations and goals reasonable.
- Ensure you have the right tools to help your child deal with the symptoms of ADHD, such as fidget toys or wiggle seats.
Choosing to homeschool can give your child with ADHD the individualized attention and curriculum they may need to learn at their own pace. It can also offer the flexibility to manage the symptoms of ADHD that might be more difficult to accommodate in the traditional school setting.
Whether you’re thinking about homeschool as an option or are already homeschooling your child with ADHD, here are some additional resources that can help you navigate this educational choice successfully.
Facebook groups supporting parents and caregivers homeschooling students with ADHD: