by Mindy
(West Virginia)

I have an 8 year old with ADHD and Oppositional Defiance. How hard would it be to homeschool him?

Kristina's Reply to ADHD:

This is a very personal question, so I took some time to think about
this from a personal standpoint and ask others about their personal
experiences. The answer to whether or not homeschooling is right for
you and your special needs or high needs child is something only YOU
will know. But here are some things to consider!

In my own family, my parents pulled my sister out of school after 8th
grade because she was ADD/ADHD and was having behavior problems at
school. Every year she was on the verge of being held back and
failing classes. They homeschooled her the rest of her education, and
she flourished. Both of my parents worked full time while
homeschooling her in evenings and on the weekends, and giving her some
assignments to complete during the day while they were working.
Sometimes she went with my mother to work and would do her assignments
at my mother's desk at work. When both parents were at work at the
same time, the grandparents periodically provided supervision for her.
However, since she was 13 at the time they started homeschooling, she
didn't need supervision all day long.

My formerly chronically scatterbrained sister who was on track to fail
high school, couldn't remember to change her underwear each day, would
sneak out with boys in middle school, and read and wrote grade levels
below where she should have been, is now a successful, college
educated, organized, calm, loving, highly responsible and
well-adjusted person. She is a military wife with her own career as
well, and has a child of her own that she plans on homeschooling.

My parents were not trained in psychology, behavioral sciences or
education, and they didn't have a lot of free time. But, they WERE
her parents. They spent more time with her than anyone else, knew her
better than anyone else, and cared about her and loved her more than
anyone at her school ever could have. It was not always easy and at
times the relationship between my sister and my parents was combative
and extremely tense, since they not only had to be parents to her, but
also teachers. But both my parents and my sister now strongly believe
every struggle was well worth it. And the end result was success.

Another personal story comes from a friend of mine who has
single-handedly homeschooled her six children. She was never
homeschooled herself, and has no college education (only a few college
classes under her belt). One of her six children has very serious
behavioral and psychological issues. A couple of her other children
have had learning deficits in certain areas. Despite all six children
being so different, some excelling far above grade level in certain
areas, and one being extremely difficult, she has been successful and
the children are well educated and happy.

She advised me that if someone were to pull a child out of school to
homeschool them for the first time, to remember that you don't have to
be an expert at everything, and you must honestly consider your
personal circumstances. Are you going to be homeschooling one child,
or several? How much supervision does your child need and are you
available to provide it? Do you have a plan for what you will teach
(such as a curriculum you have purchased, or a distance learning
school/class in which you will have your child participate)? Are you
addressing your child's special needs in any way, perhaps through
support groups, therapeutic play or activities, or regular visits (for
yourself, or your child) with a knowledgeable psychologist or
behavioral specialist who can advise you? Do you have community
support, such as a reliable babysitter, relative, or friend who will
regularly watch your child during the day once a week when you need a
break or need to run errands? Have you looked into homeschool groups
in your area where you can learn about other resources? Community
support is key, and there are so many things available to you.
Remember that in almost all school districts, you are eligible to
continue to access school resources as much or as little as you want.
You may send your child to language classes, or math classes, or other
classes at the school if you'd like to homeschool him most of the
time, but do not feel comfortable teaching one particular subject.
You can involve your child in school sports and activities. Anything
your child would have been entitled to as a student should still be
available to you.

You don't have to be an expert at child psychology or cutting edge
educational techniques for homeschooling to be successful for you and
your ADHD child. Just remember, no matter what, you are already an expert
at your child! Learning more about your child's particular struggles,
childhood brain development, and educating techniques can only be
helpful to you. This can be done by community learning, reading
books, or taking classes at your local community college.

Honestly take stock of what resources are available to you, what you
feel comfortable doing, and what you think is best for your child, and
in that way you can make an informed decision. Homeschooling is NOT
for everyone! So don't feel pressure to do so. And, don't feel
pressure to leave your child in school either. Would your ADHD child
benefit from a one-on-one environment, combined with carefully chosen,
high quality social activities (sports, theater, music, etc.)? And,
are you financially and practically able to provide that positive
one-on-one environment? Only you know the answer!

Comments for ADHD

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Every Child Has Different Needs
by: Nita

You are absolutely correct. Your story of your sister sounds like the one for my youngest son. I and my husband work outside of the home. Taking him out of school (both private and public) was a challenge. But I have to admit, for me, it's easier than it ever was before. My son is blossoming in front of me. Even though one would think sending the kid to school is easier on mom and dad, it's not. I had to take off work numerous times to just sit in the school. Being bullied by teachers and students didn't help him at all. Once home, he was no longer stressed and was able to control some aspects of his learning, even when he doesn't like doing things mom's way. Every day before we start class we read the 10 rules together. Calm Down rules included how to act when you are angry, when you don't feel in control and how to relax. It really worked for him. Then we would do the remaining lessons together. Some days if he had a tantrum, I'd stop the lesson, give him a break or time out where he recited his calm down rules. Or even time to squeeze a stress ball. However, a parent that doesn't have the energy, consistency and perseverance to do this may just want to try it out for a few month. Start a system (we use the Workbox System) that gave our son some control over his learning.

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