I won’t lie. Homeschooling a child with ADHD (with or without medication) is a challenging experience. There are days when I long for that big yellow bus to stop in front of my house and whisk Ben off to school so that I can have a break from teaching math.
But soon after that selfish thought, another thought quickly enters my mind — how on earth would this child have succeeded at all for the past 9 years in public school?
Years later, we would have that evaluation and, off and on, we have medicated him. There are daily trials even here at home with lack of self-control, emotional swings, and other problems common with ADHD. So homeschooling is not the magic answer. But I can say without a doubt that things would likely have been so much worse had we sent Ben to public school.
5 Reasons to Homeschool Your Child with ADHD
Do you have a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD, or maybe hasn’t been diagnosed but you feel certain does have it? With or without an evaluation, there are benefits to homeschooling such a child. What I didn’t know when we first began is that our reasons homeschooling our child with ADHD would greatly multiply as the years went on. So today I want to share with you just five reasons you may want to consider homeschooling your ADHD child.
A Tailor-Made Education
Homeschooling allows you set the pace for your child for each subject, and to even choose subjects that are of interest to him. If you have an ADHD child, you probably have a bright, creative, imaginative, dramatic child. He may soar in some areas, while struggling in others. Homeschooling allows you to focus on his strengths and passions and work closely with him where he struggles, ensuring that he is not bored or falling through the cracks for lack of focus and attention. It’s not unusual for ADHD kids to be far above grade level in some subjects, while struggling in others. Homeschooling allows for your 6th grader to learn Algebra, or your 3rd grader to work on beginning reading skills. You (and your child) get to decide how and what he learns and at what pace. This is a gift to your child you can’t even imagine.
A Better Learning Environment
Thomas Armstrong’s book, The Myth of the A.D.D. Child: 50 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Behavior Without Drugs, Labels or Coercion, discusses the idea that the traditional classroom makes learning difficult for ADD kids. Armstrong writes:
Kids who are labeled ADD are those who can’t or won’t put up with the (school) situation. And that may not be such a bad thing, because they’re telling us this isn’t working. They’re harbingers of whatever we need to reform in our schools.
Armstrong is talking about the usual classroom situation, with the teacher lecturing up front, kids in desks lined up in rows, using worksheets and spending much of the day doing busywork. If there is one thing that ADHD kids despise, it’s busywork.
This is just one reason ADHD kids often function much better at home, where distractions are minimal, they can be creative and move about, and where mom can teach to the strengths and passions of her child in ways that are more inspiring and hands-on. Ways classroom teachers simply don’t have time for. Some don’t even have the inclination even if they do have the time.
Reducing the Peer Negatives
Research has shown that kids with ADHD are more likely to be bullied AND to bully. ADHD kids are impulsive, often blurting out words without thinking, jumping ahead in line, or being too “hands on” with other students. Rules and consequences are generally the furthest thing from their minds. This is often a recipe for danger with ADHD kids quickly being labeled as “different,” “weird,” “difficult,” or “annoying.” Sometimes this leads to difficulties with peer and teacher relationships, including becoming the victims of bullying, and sometimes even bullying others. Keeping them home and exerting some control over social situations so that you can train them in appropriate behavior and responses to behavior can make a huge difference for them. There is also a significant benefit to being able to choose compatible friends (who have compatible parents) for your child (and you) as well. I won’t regale you with stories of moms who have been less than kind to my son and me. Just know that we learned very quickly who we could and couldn’t trust, even among homeschool families.
No Pressure to Medicate
ADHD kids are busy bees. They move a lot, talk a lot, and have difficulty focusing for more than 2 minutes on most everything. Unless they are hyperfocusing, of course (often on something you wish they wouldn’t). With 25 or 30 other children in the classroom, teachers often become increasingly impatient with constant attention these kids require to keep them from disrupting the classroom routine. It doesn’t take long for the note to come, suggesting that your child be evaluated for ADHD. What it really means is, “please give this child something to calm him down.” Ask around, if you have friends with ADHD kids in public school. What you are likely to hear is how those teachers are begging for your friends to medicate their children so they can be mainstreamed into a classroom of “normal” kids. Please don’t fall prey to the pressure just to keep your kids in the public school classroom.
At home, you can work with your child’s need for shorter lessons, provide less stimulation, or allow him to spell while jumping on the trampoline. Even if you do decide to have him evaluated and medicated (like we did), it will be because you truly believe it was the best option for your child, rather than because of the pressure exerted by his teacher.
Meeting Spiritual Battles Head On
We all must struggle daily with our sin nature. Couple that sin nature with differences in the chemical composition of the brains of ADHD kids and those struggles are magnified. It is important for us to realize and teach our kids that there are spiritual implications for common ADHD behaviors — lack of self-control, difficulty with focus, problems with listening and following instructions, etc. These kids need the consistent love, prayer, and biblical foundation that can be better provided when we have them home with us, experiencing difficulties with our children, with the ability to meet their battles head on with the truth of God’s Word. It is far too easy to make excuses, bury our heads in the sand, and lose out on opportunities for important biblical training when our kids are not with us most of the day. This is true whether your kids have ADHD or not, but is it especially true with kids who often deal with a lack of behavioral problems.
Speaking of using biblical Truth in training your ADHD child . . .
While Scripture should never be used as a way to chastise your children, it is an important part of training them. All children need to understand that biblical Truth applies to all of us, no matter our age or diagnosis. Using key Bible verses to guide ADHD kids along a path to righteousness can be very helpful, especially if you give them opportunity and instruction in memorization.
And P.S. these bright, imaginative kids tend to have amazing abilities when it comes to memorization. So use that to your (and their) advantage any chance you can.
Here are a few Scripture verses you can use with your ADHD kids to help guide them and counter some of the negative behaviors. I highly recommend using them for copywork and memorization.
Homeschooling is not a cure for ADHD. There will still be struggles, both for your child and for you as the teacher. It will take commitment, diligence, and patience on your part to homeschool your ADHD child successfully. In this moment, you may not even understand what they can or will look like. It’s okay, jump in anyway.
You may even be thinking, “I don’t have enough patience for this.”
I understand. Truly, I do.
But what I have discovered is that God grows and refines us through some of the hardest things we have to face. You may not have enough patience right now. That’s a fact. But your patience will grow. That’s how God works. He doesn’t often just give us what we need. Instead, he gives us opportunities to develop what we need through trials and experiences.
For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance. Psalm 66:10-12