I’ve been homeschooling my ADHD child for 2 weeks now, and it’s going…okay?

Two weeks ago we made the leap and pulled Little J out of school. We’d actually meant for him to stay in until the end of his grading quarter but since he knew he was going to be homeschooled and his natural inclination is to do nothing in class, he did nothing in class that first week back from break. To spare the teacher, we pulled him. Probably should’ve not sent him back after the holiday break, but hindsight is perfect, isn’t it?

We pulled him for a variety of reasons: first, in order to stay in his seat, follow directions (sort of), and participate at all in class we doubled his simulant medication, which in turn made him lose 5 lbs in 5 weeks, throw up four times, and created tweaky anxiety and jumpiness, none of which were side effects we wanted to live with. Second, due to last year’s denial of an IEP he was falling further and further behind, and while we probably would’ve been granted an IEP – or at least be put in process to get one – it seemed like the process took way too long for such a young kid. Third, we started wondering what we wanted out of an IEP and realized that what we thought would be best for Little J (1-1 help, a small classroom environment, OT services in school, and frequent movement breaks) probably wouldn’t happen anyway. We had lots of other reasons, too, plus I have a flexible work schedule and have a background in education, so ta da! – we removed him from his 2nd grade public school classroom to homeschool.

In the two weeks he’s been home with me I’ve discovered a few things. First (and why this was a surprise to me I do not know), the child can do no seat work – work requiring reading, writing, math, or working on the computer – independently. I can’t just set him up and then try to fold laundry or do a little of my own work while he finishes a task. He just won’t do it.

Essentially, my child is not an independent learner. I don’t know why it surprises me (did you read 3 paragraphs up where I said his natural inclination in school was to do nothing?)- maybe it doesn’t surprise me as much as it’s a letdown – I had really hoped that without the extraneous stimuli from a classroom he could settle down and work and I could actually get some work done. Because I work. Yes, it’s flexible, which is how I’m able to do this with Little J, but it’s still work and it has to get done. It hasn’t been, by the way. Good thing my two bosses are very forgiving (that would be me) or sleep with me (that would be my husband)!

So far Little J has confused me. On the one hand, he’s failed every reading and math assessment I’ve given him, but on the other he often surprises me with what he can do when not being assessed. He can’t read the phonics book we’re been practicing on but he can (kind of) read Captain Underpants. It’s completely unclear to me where I should start with him and I keep going back and forth about what he should be doing – “seat” work? Following his interests? De-schooling? Reading great books? Watching videos? Playing with other kids? Doing art?

Probably all of the above.

He can do some things independently – he can watch documentaries for hours at a time, he can look at books (if they’re something he’s interested in), he can play Legos, and he can fart around outside, which should not be confused with nature study, because it mostly consists of whacking the shrubs with pvc pipe. I’m counting it as P.E. J He is also happy to do hands-on activities, like art or cooking or going on field trips. He will listen to me read and we’ve been fairly successful at extension activities connected with various books we’ve read.He is interested and excited about learning about the world, which has been refreshing to discover. He doesn’t hate learning. He didn’t actually hate school. But he had a hard time learning in school.

One very good thing has happened amidst all this confusion: he is much, much, much more chill. Gone are the screaming fits when he used to come home from school. Part of this is no homework, but he doesn’t fight the “day” work the same way he’d fight the worksheet or 2 the teacher would send home at night. This in itself is invaluable. It caused a lot of stress in our house and I’m very glad we no longer have to deal with it. As for more benefits – I’m hoping time will tell.

We’re muddling through right now. Some days have been great. Some days not. Some days we’ve done nothing at all because we had other plans, some of which could be counted as school (volunteering at the library, visiting the Tiger Rescue Place), and some of which couldn’t (going to the Party Store to get a Disco ball). The homeschool moms I’ve met have told me that it’s okay to take it easy at first. I’m trying to do that. I’m trying to give myself a break.

You’ll hear lots more from me on this subject. I’ve started a blog about it, but I’m not ready to share just yet. Soon, I promise.

Questions?

Previous post about this subject: Could you, would you homeschool your ADHD child? and When winter break lasts forever: why we’ve decided to homeschool our ADHD child.

(picture courtesy of flickr user madelinetosh)

Adrienne Ehlert Bashista is the co-editor of and contributor to Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories, and is also the author of two picture books about Russian adoption. She’s had stories, essays, and articles published in a variety of journals, both print and on-line. She is the owner of DRT Press. She was a school librarian for many years before giving it up to devote more time to the rest of her life. She chronicles her adventures raising her son, recently diagnosed with FASD in her blog, A Square Peg, a Round Hole. She also writes for the blog for Easy to Love but Hard to Raise and her writing/speaking website is adriennebashista.net. She lives in central North Carolina with her husband, two sons, two dogs, 21 chickens, and a lot of bees.

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About the author

Adrienne Ehlert Bashista is the co-editor of and contributor to Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories, and is also the author of two picture books about Russian adoption. She’s had stories, essays, and articles published in a variety of journals, both print and on-line. She is the owner of DRT Press. She was a school librarian for many years before giving it up to devote more time to the rest of her life. She chronicles her adventures raising her son, recently diagnosed with FASD in her blog, A Square Peg, a Round Hole. She also writes for the blog for Easy to Love but Hard to Raise and her writing/speaking website is adriennebashista.net. She lives in central North Carolina with her husband, two sons, two dogs, 21 chickens, and a lot of bees.

One Comment

  1. stephanie says:

    I also have a 2nd grader that has an IEP and is ADHD . and he makes U’s and is below kindergarten average. i want to home school him this july 1 . the school tells me give us till February and he will be doing great . that they have great teachers well February is next moth. His desk is always in a corner away from other class mates. my son was not speaking at 3 years old i had to learn sign language to get him to talk to me. we had tutors come out and work with him for 4 years through the state. i just dont know where to start to get him perpared for home school. cause he will need to start over in the first grade, he can not write a sentence or read at all. he needs special ed books and curriculum. can you help me please.

    Reply

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