I love homeschooling my ADHD kiddos, but it’s challenging for sure. Even with diet changes that have been more effective than their ADHD medications ever were, it’s still a challenge. If you can imagine with me, I homeschool Flint Lockwood (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) and Dory (Finding Dory) with Winnie the Pooh keeping an eye on meal times and snack options. It’s noisy, high energy, messy, and loads of fun. Certain days are rough; some days rocket and dive and veer into a range of extremes: anxiety and emotional melt downs, high distractibility, zero self-regulation, etc.
If you are homeschooling or are thinking of homeschooling an active or challenged child, finding a homeschool curriculum can seem even more daunting. How do you know what will work? Will they be able to stick with something for the entire year? Can we make it through all the subjects when we can’t make it through a single meal? But let me reassure you, finding homeschool curriculum for ADHD isn’t as hard as it sounds.
Finding the right homeschool curriculum for ADHD
3 Things NOT to stress about
The method or style. There are so many educational options for homeschoolers: online homeschooling, traditional homeschooling, classical homeschooling, unschooling, delight-directed, etc. But there isn’t a right or wrong option for ADHD. Any of these styles would need at least a little adjustment to fit your family and your child. So find something you love. Find something that aligns with your family’s values and lifestyle, and do it well. The method and style have to be a fit for you, too, not just your child.
The expense. Trust me, homeschool curriculum for ADHD does not have to be more expensive. There are plenty of fun extras that you can spend money on to add spice and variety to your homeschool day, but nothing that is necessary. And honestly, the greatest advantage to homeschooling ADHD is that your child will probably be full of brilliant ideas for adding that variety with items in his bedroom or around the house. Let your kids help you brainstorm those solutions. Let your child create the learning game for his spelling words or history facts. If your kids are anything like mine, they are never short on ideas.
The learning style. Learning style is important, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating. Most curriculums that I’ve seen on the market today usually allow for a variety of learning styles, and there are plenty of Pinterest ideas and creative solutions to make adjustments to any curriculum. Definitely know how your child learns best and find as many ways as possible to appeal to that learning strength. But don’t stress out trying to find a homeschool curriculum that is specifically for a kinesthetic learner or an auditory learner, etc. There’s always legos and youtube.
With that said, there are a few things you should look for as your sort through the many options.
3 Thinks to Look For
Short lessons. This is my top item. If a curriculum says to expect to spend 45 minutes a day on any subject, it’s an immediate “no.” There is no way that’s happening. I don’t care how hands-on it is, a 45 minute math lesson will never work. No matter how many cute gimmicks it offers, an hour language arts lesson will leave us all in tears. I look for subjects that can be taught quickly or easily divided into bite-size lessons (15-20 minutes on average) throughout the week. We just do better with shorter focused lessons; and I’m always amazed by how much they soak up in such a short time.
Flexibility. There are good days and bad days to homeschooling any kid; that’s even more true when homeschooling ADHD. I look for a curriculum that allows for maximum flexibility. It’s one of the reasons I love Tapestry of Grace; it’s created to be customized. Structure is important, but rigid structure crumbles under pressure. You need an earthquake-resistant curriculum that provides structure while allowing you to cave a little on those bad days without toppling the whole year. What does that look like? Honestly, it depends on your personality. Find a curriculum that you feel comfortable making your own. If you are afraid to leave the lesson plan for fear that you will miss something in the fine print, that curriculum isn’t allowing you flexibility. On the other hand, I’ve never used any curriculum without making tons of changes from Tapestry of Grace to A Beka to Math Mammoth, and everywhere in between. Does your curriculum give you the freedom to veer off when you need to?
Learning style. I know, I know. I told you not to stress about learning style, but it is something to consider for each child, especially in the areas of your child’s weakness. However, it is my last consideration. If I find a curriculum that fits my child’s learning style but offers no flexibility and demands 45 minutes to an hour—there’s no way! But if I’ve narrowed my options with the first two considerations, I will then look at how my child learns best. I use two different math curriculums. My son learns best through words and language and reading. He gets a concept much better if he can read about it than if I explain it to him. He’s visual, but in a verbal linguistic way. My daughter, on the other hand, is dyslexic. Even if she did read it, she wouldn’t necessarily understand it. She thinks in pictures. She’s visual in a very different way. She enjoys hands-on, she memorizes well to music and chants, but she needs color and pictures. Neither child, however, spends longer than half an hour MAX on a math lesson (with me or without me).
While there is no perfect curriculum for any homeschooler, it doesn’t have to be impossible or even overwhelming to find the right homeschool curriculum for ADHD. Many options will work on most days, and on other days, even the best curriculum doesn’t stand a chance. It’s just the name of the game, and we go with the flow, leaving the lesson plans to teach our kiddos the life lessons of how to cope with their specific challenges instead.
Homeschooling ADHD is challenging for sure. But it’s also so much fun. With all that spontaneity, originality, and energy, there is never a dull moment. Embrace it, roll with it, and hold on for a dear life.