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Homeschooling in the COVID Era: Tips for ADHD/ADD Struggles

ADHD homeschooling tips

Parenting a child with an ADHD/ADD diagnosis can be full of joy, but it also has its own unique struggles. Homeschooling can create a whole new set of challenges that can also increase stress and frustration for some families. To help you meet those challenges we've gathered a few of the most practical tips that families have been using.

Organization

Online learning has required the use of unfamiliar apps that result in students having to break from their familiar routines. They now have to turn their work in differently, codes have to be entered, and processes are different for each teacher! This requires a high level of organization that many children with ADHD/ADD simply do not have. This is a struggle even outside of homeschooling and COVID19.

Our psychology clinic has seen a strategy that works very well (and can be a real stress reliever) – get a notebook! On the first page, have your child list their first period class, teacher's name, and app entry code. Underneath are the assignments that need to be turned in, and when. Fast forward five pages into the notebook and add the second period class info. Keep repeating for each class. Try to list the assignments due in chronological order to help stay organized. When your child completes and turns in the assignment – have fun with crossing it out, checking it off or highlighting it complete!

HINT: If possible, create a color tab for each class. Let your child select the color for each class. This adds extra organization that can help reduce the stress of flipping through the pages to find each class.

Want another strategy? As the parent of a child with ADHD/ADD, you know some tasks can take longer than expected if your child has to search for where they wrote something or put something. Same concept as above, but each day write the assignments due and their details on post-it notes for easy access. When they have turned in that assignment, the post-it note is crumpled up and thrown away! You can organize the post-it notes horizontally or vertically, whichever way your child responds to the best.

Distractions

Another area that children with ADHD/ADD can have issues with is with distraction. Although it's a fun skill when you're on a hike or walk (they just notice all the cool things along the way), distraction can be a real struggle for them when they're trying to focus on work, especially in a homeschool situation.

A few tips families have found to be successful:

  • Create a space in your home that has the least amount of distractions. For example, a not-so-great setup would be facing a window. Your child could get lost in the exciting world outside and lose focus on schoolwork. A better setup? The kitchen table, a well-lit corner of a room, or a room in your home that has limited toys/items to look at. Avoid the child's room as the workspace. Most parents have found that the child's room presents a big distraction, as that is typically where a child plays and daydreams.
  • Consider getting a cardboard box and creating a trifold that stands as a backdrop at your child's computer/workspace. Remember those post-it notes of assignments due for the day? This trifold backdrop could be a perfect spot for those to live.
  • Background noise can be very distracting. Try letting them work with noise-canceling headphones or ear buds.

Breaks

Breaks are important! Provide your child with plenty of breaks – exercise breaks are great for burning off that hyperactive energy. You'll find that they'll focus better when they come back from their break, instead of making them do all the work in one sitting.

Consider the use of a timer - could be on a phone or a baking timer. When it dings, it's break time! You can also use the same timer to indicate when the break is over and it's time to get to work. If possible, try to not have break time include electronics. If they are outside, encourage them to run, jump, skip, play on a trampoline, chase the dog, hop like a frog, or swing. 20-30 minutes at a time should release some of that hyperactivity.

Consider using “first, then” language. For example, “First, we do math for 30 minutes. Then, we play outside for 30 minutes.” A lot of children understand this language and the use of a timer can help them be successful with time management.

Encouragement

Your precious child with ADHD/ADD needs this more than any of the strategies listed above. They're currently being asked to do things that their brains are not wired to do. They thrive when their efforts are noticed by you. Working with them and cheering them on will do wonders. If they are struggling, problem-solve with them. A wonderful quality of children with ADHD/ADD is their ability to think outside the box in creating strategies that work for both of you. Children know when they are seeing barriers and if you ask and listen to them, new ideas can be developed – and can be wildly successful.