Homeschooling a child that won't pay attention

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Having the wonderful option to homeschool has been a blessing in this time that we live in. Many parents are deciding to take advantage of the freedom to homeschool and braving the task. For many personal reasons, as well as the obvious ones, homeschool has had a 62% increase within the last decade. Public school are just not what they use to be when we were growing up. Public school budgets have been cut so low in the more recent years and with that also comes cuts to extra curricular activities, which are vital to a student's well-rounded education. Add this government pushed garbage, the Core Curriculum, to overfilled and understaffed classrooms.  The result?  Many of our children are confused, discouraged, even scared to go to school. For the spiritual parents, they feel that what is being taught in the public school can be flat out lies (THEORY of Evolution, Big Bang theory etc etc).  School shootings are at an all time high affecting a daily security that parents have with sending their children there. I'm not sure about you, but to me all of these reasons seem to be legitimate for wanting to homeschool your child. With a little prayer and God's leading, you decide to take the plunge.

So you've done it.  You've thought it through, arranged your schedule, informed all your family and friends.  You're going to homeschool. You've jumped through all the hurdles of questions that people throw at you. All of the 'unknowns' and the 'what if's?'.  You've done your research, bought your curriculum, set up your homeschool room (or for some apartment people as myself--homeschool area), have gotten organized, and are all ready to go with a bright face and a hope for your child's future.  You're excited, you start to get your child excited, everyone's excited to start year 1 of homeschool (whatever grade that may be for your child). Finally, school starts. 

In those few weeks after starting school you were wondering why your child always says they are bored or why they answer one question on a worksheet or copy one item off of the white board, then put their pencil down and get up from their desk (or your choice of working area). They roll around on the floor or try to go and grab a toy and play. They start complaining, are somewhat resistant, and it seems that they have a bad attitude. Then you calmly coax them back to the working area just to get them back on track.  Throughout the day you notice that you have to do this more than just a couple of times. You reason within yourself, "Maybe ____ is just getting use to homeschool." Or, "Maybe ____ is bored and I need to add in more fun, hands on things for him/her to do." Even one of these thoughts has crossed my mind before, "Maybe I'm not doing it right or maybe I just can't teach him" but you're determined to not give up.  You try a bunch of different ways to teach and to incorporate fun activities with the lessons, even introducing a rewards system to bring some incentive.  Some days it works well, others there is little progress and you feel that your patience with this seems to be wearing thin.  
You can't seem to understand why this is happening.  Homeschooling was meant to be the better option.  I am guilty of getting frustrated to the point of letting my ugly mouth come in and say things that was starting to break down my son's confidence.  Then I would apologize after 10 minutes and feel guilty for the rest of the day, knowing I did not want to discourage him from learning. 
We both ended up feeling frustrated and upset, me being worn out emotionally.  It is especially hard when you are a single parent in all of this with no spouse to lean on for emotional support.  In my home, I lean on Jesus to strengthen me for the day.  He has been there to keep me calm in times of trouble. So, a few weeks go by in this routine. Then it finally hits you and thank the Lord it did.....

Your child has attention issues.

Now I'm not saying that your child has clinical ADHD or ADD or anything like that.  A professional would have to diagnose your child for this actual disorder. If you think that they might have one of these, you should definitely get them evaluated by a professional.  But some kids are more hyper than others and need more grace and patience when it comes to instruction or learning.  

What I want you to do if this is your child, is to take a big breath and sigh of relief.  You are not alone. 
As Theodore Roosevelt said: "Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty... I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well."
When you have a child with attention issues you're going to have to exercise your patience more than other parents will have to.  You are going to have set your mindset on being creative, being extremely determined, and having a more deepened spiritual understanding of your child's needs. This requires diligent study and observance of your child and how they respond to new things that you introduce.
Let me give you 5 examples of things you can try with your child:

1) Create a rewards system
This has helped in my homeschool immensely.  It also creates an accountability for my child to be responsible and to be goal oriented. If he has a bad attitude he doesn't get his sticker on his sticker chart that day.  A full sticker chart (which is about a month's worth) will get him a mom-approved toy, game, or anything he might be interested in at the time, under $10 from the store. 

2) Use a timer or use the "Clock Challenge"
A great example on how to use this method would be to assign a task for your child and to set a timer or use the clock showing them how much time they have to complete it.  You can also put some fun into it by saying "Bet you can't get this done before the timer runs out!" or "before I'm done taking the trash out!", something of that nature. I know this really works for boys. 




3) Have a structured day with some compromise
Keep the day in order but also keep it fun. I noticed that before we had a structured day, my son was ALWAYS asking me when was recess. Over and over and over again..Ahhh! After changing this minor detail and keeping our subjects in the same order, my son could tell when he was about to have a break or snack time. This would get him excited because he knew what to expect and was prepared for it. Also, do not make it so structured that there is no room for fun. If things get too bogged down, then take a quick break to play a fast-paced card game or board game. This really helps lighten things up a bit. Then get back to work.

4) Let your child know whats expected of them
Communication.  Let your child know that you will not tolerate "bad seed" behavior. We must try to do our best and if we are having problems it is okay to ask for help. Then remind them about the rewards system and let them know that if they have a good attitude they will get good things. Encourage the good behavior and be firm when it comes to the not-so-good behavior. 

5) This is last BUT not at all least ...
Bring in Principle Daddy!
 If my son is just downright refusing to behave, lollygagging to start school, or giving me lots of 'tude, I bring in the big guns. I will tell my son that (when all else fails) if he does not straighten up I will call his father. (My son's father and I are not together, but when I need him to be the disciplinary he steps in).  By this point, I've given him plenty of chances and he knows that I am serious. A call to dad is not good and knows there are consequences when it comes to having to tell daddy. He straightens up quickly.


Well, there you have it.  Like I said a dash of grace and patience goes a long way with a child who can't seem to sit still for long. Take your time in your homeschool and figure out the individual needs that are so tailored to your little one.  Ask him or her a lot of questions and be observant and if all else fails ... Daddy!


Homeschooling as a single mom can be hard.  We are not meant to do it alone! If you have any questions or comments about homeschooling, please feel free to leave one below. I would love to help out with any tips and tricks that I have learned along the way to beginning homeschooler moms.



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