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Old 11-27-08, 09:46 PM
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Arrow Building confidence in your ability to homeschool a child with ADD

Many parents have asked my wife and I what gave us the confidence to start homeschooling Steven, despite his ADD. I think answering this is important because it can help you, too, if youíve ever doubted whether you can homeschool your ADD child.
For us, such confidence didnít come automatically. We knew that the teachers at the school he was attending didnít have a clue as to how to teach a child with Attention Deficit Disorder. And we quickly concluded that being taught one-on-one would be the best alternative. But we wondered if we could really do it. School teachers, after all, have a degree in education. They studied teaching in college and may have been teaching for many years. So how could we do as well, or even better, than them?

One thing that helped us was focusing on the fact that kids with ADD have an extremely hard time learning in a classroom setting, even if they have a fantastic teacher. Thereís just too many distractions, especially from other students. Even kids who donít have ADD donít learn as much in a typical classroom of 20 other children compared to being taught directly, one-on-one. Think back to when you were in school. Did you pay attention to everything the teacher said? What if she asked a question? Well, there was only a 1 in 20 chance that she would even call on you. So unless you were one of those children who just naturally loved school, you probably only listened well during a subject you especially enjoyed or when being spoken to directly. If you donít have ADD and were either distracted or bored, imagine kids that do have it. So we realized that even if we werenít trained in how to teach, speaking directly to Steven and removing all distractions would at least get him to listen. And if he listened, he could begin to learn.

Something else that helped was reading as much as we could about various teaching methods, and beginning with a curriculum. At first we started with a rather stuffy, dry curriculum. In time, though, we switched to a more varied one and we are now developing our own curriculum, tailored to Stevenís needs. So although starting homeschooling with a curriculum isnít necessary, it can help to build confidence and even learn where a childís strengths are and in which areas he struggles.

We also came to realize that we already had one of the most important aspects of good teaching going for us: truly knowing our student. Come to think of it, even though knowing oneís student is so important, because of the size of most classrooms and the duration of the school year, teachers are usually rather limited in how well they can know each student. We knew what interested Steven and what bored him, what pace to go at and what the signs were when his mind started to drift, telling us it was time for a break. Who better to teach a child than the ones who know him best?

Finally, what helped us most is just doing it. Now that weíve been homeschooling Steven for over two years, weíve gotten much better at it. He learns more, we enjoy it more and so does he.

So to sum it up, you can build confidence in your ability to homeschool an ADD child if you remember:

(1) Kids learn better when taught one-on-one

(2) You know your child better than anyone else

(3) You improve at teaching the more you do it
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Old 11-28-08, 01:19 AM
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Re: Building confidence in your ability to homeschool a child with ADD

Thank you for this post.

I homeschool my 3 sons, and I'm the one with ADD. I haven't tested my middle child yet, though he shows symptoms, he's able to just work at his own pace and get all the energy out possible at home.

My inattentiveness is my shortcoming, so I have to find curriculums that not only get my children's attention, but that I can follow. Math has been the hardest. I'm about to start Horizons...crossing my fingers.

We're pretty much ecclectic in our schooling...no one philosophy or style. What did you find that "clicked" for you? What style was most encouraging?
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Old 11-28-08, 11:46 AM
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Arrow Re: Building confidence in your ability to homeschool a child with ADD

So you are kind of in a reverse situation, being you are the one with ADD. That's interesting.

One thing I found helps with my ADD brother-in-law (and it makes it easier for me to pay attention, too) is using exercises and body movements in homeschooling. Kind of like the Brain Gym method, although my wife and I created an faster moving, more exciting variation of it.

I'll write a forum or blog post about it in a couple of minutes, that way more people can learn about it.
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Old 11-28-08, 03:55 PM
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Re: Building confidence in your ability to homeschool a child with ADD

Thanks for this info. Funny enough I was really thinking about this today. I've always been a fan of homeschooling but wound up putting my daughter into school since I wasn't confident in my ability to teach her and her dad was against homeschooling.

Now that she's in 2nd grade and having increasing problems due to what seems to be ADHD (testing on 1/8) he's come around to my way of thinking. I'm just not sure I can do it. With our dueling ADD and my toddler at home I'm just afraid it'll be crazy! I'm going to read your blog (kbroccoli) to get some more info.
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Old 11-29-08, 12:27 AM
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Re: Building confidence in your ability to homeschool a child with ADD

I'm entertaining the thought of homeschooling my 11yo son out of sheer frustration and desperation. This year, we left the public school system, and went private. He has a learning disability (written output is very very hard due to executive function problems and math is very hard...working memory problems). He has anxiety around any work that is "too hard" even when its actually impossibly easy (put the numbers in order from smallest to biggest is impossible if he's got his mental block turned on).

He's had special tutoring from some very, very knowledgeable experts in dealing with kids like him, but that was at night and we decided he needed a better classroom during the day. So, at double the cost of the night school, we are in a class of only 10 kids. Highly structured environment, de-cluttered curriculum, but still he has trouble paying attention and doing the work. He avoids it like the plague and fights tooth and nail to get out of doing his work...unless its something he likes. Art is fine, music is fine, gym is fine. etc.. He's been on Strattera since last march and we've slowly titrated up but are still not at a fully therapeutic dose...we had to lower it due to appetite problems. I think he has vitamin deficiencies that are worsening the problem due to his poor eating over the last year.

We are hitting a real road block and I wonder if, even if he is homeschooled (by me, mom) would he even get the slightest bit done at all? Or would I start out by throwing out all the school stuff, and just focus on anything intersting...trips to an educational setting...a science outing, etc.

Anyone out there in the same boat? If he won't work for the teachers, and he won't do homework with me, how can he be taught? Should I even consider it? Sorry for the rant, its been a very trying week, thanks for listening!
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Old 11-29-08, 10:39 AM
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Re: Building confidence in your ability to homeschool a child with ADD

Homeschooling is not as insurmountable as it looks when you first start. It's crazy getting started because you become not just a parent, but a teacher, too.

There's loads of help out there. If you just google your state and "homeschooling" you'll get hits on all kinds of sites. Then there's co-op groups (parents working together to teach each other's children) and those are sometimes affiliated with a religious group, sometimes not.

You'll be swimming in the information out there...you will not being doing it alone.
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Old 11-29-08, 09:29 PM
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Arrow Re: Building confidence in your ability to homeschool a child with ADD

Quote:
Originally Posted by goddessonahiway View Post
Now that she's in 2nd grade and having increasing problems due to what seems to be ADHD (testing on 1/8) he's come around to my way of thinking. I'm just not sure I can do it. With our dueling ADD and my toddler at home I'm just afraid it'll be crazy!
I understand your concerns. I had the same worries in the past. Interestingly, something happened two weeks ago that helped to reaffirm that we are spending our time wisely by homeschooling my brother-in-law, Steven. Here's the story (abridged):

My sister-in-law had a baby which was born with some health problems. Her husband had to work a lot. So my wife and I flew out to Arizona to help them out. We spent most of the time cooking, doing laundry, grocery shopping, etc. But what amazed me was home much time we spent getting her two other kids ready for school, driving them there, waiting in line to drop them off, and then doing the whole thing all over again in reverse in the afternoon.

I had forgotten about all that spent prepping and getting my brother-in-law to school we used to do it for him. I calculated that the amount of time we spent doing all of those things was about one third to one half of the amount of time it takes us to homeschool.

Then there's homework, which my wife helped the oldest kid with. That was another hour daily.

I should mention, too, that most homeschoolers only do homeschool for 3 to 4 hours or so per day. That might seem like not enough, but think about the fact that that doesn't include things like lunch, recess and all those hours in which the teacher assigns the class to do worksheets and some kids finish before others while the other kids just sit there and veg out while waiting for the others to finish...and the teacher sits and grades test from other classes or reads the paper.

And, to top it all off, how many hours of actual dialog is going on specifically between your child and the teacher in a regular school? Probably not too many. With kids with ADD, that really matters. ADD children respond best when being spoken to directly. If the teacher is speaking to the class in general, most kids with ADD will be in another world, thinking about anything but what the teacher is saying.

So...to sum it up:

I bet even 2 of your hours of one-on-one instruction to your child is better quality teaching time than he is actually receiving at school, principally because he has Attention Deficit Disorder.

It's not that the teachers are bad teachers, or that they haven't been trained in how to instruct students with ADD (some have). It's that they just can't provide what the ADD child really needs: one-on-one teaching with no surrounding distractions.
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Old 11-29-08, 11:17 PM
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Re: Building confidence in your ability to homeschool a child with ADD

I agree with you 100%! I have "tested" homeschooling over the summer and holiday breaks. The only reason I'm rethinking it now is because I'm finally treating MY ADD. I really hope it enables me to help my daughter more effectively. My daughter is gifted too so she's very bored in school. I would much rather her move at her own pace than be bored to tears waiting for the rest of her class to catch up.

Thanks for your post. I'm going to send it to my daughter's dad (my ex) since I think your choice of words are excellent.
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