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A diagnosis. It can change everything. When you know what you’re dealing with, you can learn how to deal with it.
Last month, one of our children was diagnosed with (inattentive) ADHD, a common neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ve struggled to understand this child. To keep her on task. To refocus her. She has always been a tactile learner who needed plenty of manipulatives when learning, and now I know why.
As nervous as I was to pick up the phone and call the doctor and get a referral, I’m sure glad I did.
Knowing what we’re dealing with is life-changing. We can do our research. Find coping strategies. And mostly, have grace.
Because it’s not her fault.
We’re starting a journey. A journey of learning about the way our daughter processes the world around her. A journey of learning how to better parent and homeschool our child. A journey of learning how to help our daughter love and celebrate the beautiful person God has created her to be.
As my daughter has gotten older, it has been harder to find homeschool programs and resources that keep her engaged. I recently sat down with her to pinpoint what is working and what is not, and she gave me permission to share the results of that conversation here. Please note that I’m not recommending or prescribing curriculum to others. I’m simply writing about where we are at in our homeschooling journey.
Here’s what we found:
Curriculum That’s Not Working
The Way I Teach Apologia Chemistry and Physics
I wax eloquent about Apologia to anyone who will listen because I think it’s amazing. However, in my excitement to teach all the things all at once to my children, I often make the lessons far longer than my daughter can handle. She loves the experiments but has requested that I reduce the length of my textbook readings. I think that’s an extremely reasonable request. We’ll be shortening lessons in future.
I was quite excited about the Charlotte Mason style geography program that we’ve been using … despite the fact that my daughter begs and pleads to do something … anything … else. I’m not sure what it is about it that overwhelms her, but she has mentioned several times that she misses Daily Geography Practice. Perhaps it’s because the Daily Geography Practice lessons are concise and the expectations clearly laid out. Whatever the case, I’m willing to let her switch back to a similar program. The most important thing is that she’s learning in a way that works for her.
Institute for Excellence in Writing
I wanted so badly for this to work, not only because I’ve heard that it’s an amazing program, but also because (even used) it’s expensive. It just isn’t a good fit for us, however. So we need to let it go. And that’s okay.
Curriculum We’re Not Sure About
I am a diehard Teaching Textbooks fan. I love the instant feedback that the program provides, as well as the fact that the teaching is both visual and auditory, so it appeals to a variety of learning styles. You can read my rave review of their online program here.
Unfortunately, as math has gotten more advanced, my daughter has begun to struggle a bit. We’ve tried textbook-based programs and they were a complete bust. So I don’t think this is the fault of the online program as much as it is just a result of the way her brain works. Working out large, multi-step math problems can be tedious for children who struggle with focus. Sitting with her as she is doing math certainly helps. A little further down, I’ll share some other things that we’re going to try.
Building Spelling Skills
I’m not actually sure what to say about this curriculum. We don’t love it. We don’t hate it. (Okay, maybe my kids do just a little.) We’re not switching it. It’s just sort of one of those subjects they have to do.
Curriculum that is Working Beautifully
Mystery of History
My daughter adores this program. Lessons are fairly short but also quite interesting. I allow her to draw or play quietly while I read aloud. Afterwards, the girls submit a one-paragraph written narration of the lesson.
A Reason for Handwriting
My daughter loves this program. Again, lessons are short and simple, allowing her to easily cross an item off her independent schoolwork checklist and giving a sense of accomplishment.
KidzType is a free, online typing program that features both typing lessons and fun games. It’s an extremely fun program to practice typing. And did I mention that it’s free?
Daily Grams features one-page-per-day grammar lessons. As with our handwriting program, lessons are short and sweet. Because each day follows a similar format, the expectations and duration are clear. My daughter really enjoys her daily grammar work.
We recently started using Ana Gerhard’s classical music appreciation resources. They are lovely, engaging, and one of the most delightful parts of our day.
What We Plan to Introduce
Writers in Residence
We did a couple of sample lessons last term. While I can’t say that my girls have eagerly embraced this writing program, I do have to say that it’s proving to be a very good fit for us. I keep the lessons short and sweet, and we have fun with it. I suspect this will work out much better for us than the program we started with this year.
Music In Our Homeschool
Have you heard about Music in Our Homeschool? It’s a website that provides online music courses that are simple to add to your homeschool day. We’ll be working through the Learn Classical Music Through Cartoons course.
Masterpiece Society is another brilliant resource. It offers art expression and appreciation classes for all ages. We’ve signed up for the Playful Pet Portraits class.
This is a math game designed to reinforce basic math skills such as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.
I’ve put together eight boxes, each with a variety of quiet activities to occupy hands while I’m reading aloud. Items include: building toys (Plus Plus, Zoobs, Magformers, etc.), slime, kinetic sand, fidget toys, peg people, drawing supplies, small toys/figurines. We’ll use these boxes during Bible, poetry time, music appreciation, history, and read-alouds.
Other Board Games
Board games are a great way to work on a variety of cognitive skills including observation, memory, problem-solving, critical thinking, etc.
Since my daughter loves ocean documentaries, we’ve agreed that she can choose an ocean documentary to watch if she has completed her work for the week.
Curriculum We’re Considering
Right Start Math Games
I have heard so many positive things about Right Start, particularly about their hands on games. The price tag is a little high, but I think it might be worth it to reinforce math concepts in a fun and engaging way. If anyone has any experience with this, please feel free to comment below!
Other Adjustments to Our Homeschool
Since September, we have been out way too much. We have activities every single afternoon of the week. With two daughters who require one-on-one learning time, I’ve simply not been able to give it the dedicated attention that it requires. Many of our extracurriculars are educational, yes, but they’re not what we need right now.
We need time.
We need rest.
We need to scale back the crazy just a little.
Although I’ve been homeschooling for seven years, I’m at the very beginning of researching and understanding ADHD. No matter how many adjustments to our lives are involved, I plan to do everything within my power to learn about and support the beautiful way my daughter learns.
I’m looking forward to the journey.
2 thoughts on “Homeschooling ADHD – A Diagnosis and Where We’re Going From Here”
I can only imagine the relief and freedom you have found in getting that missing knowledge of your daughter. And I love that you have worked with her to decide what works best for her. I hope this just blesses your daily life together!
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Thank you so much. And yes, it is such a relief. Simply being able to put a name to it felt like a burden lifted!
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