When you first thought of “homeschooling“, what did you envision? I talked about my homeschooling dream a few months back when I shared my Homeschool Mom Confession at The Mommy Mess. In short, it was to have all of my kids sitting quietly at the dining room table – kind of like the one-room schoolhouse in Anne of Green Gables.
Naturally, this is an unrealistic fantasy, so I wasn’t surprised that it didn’t come true. But while I dropped the more ridiculous aspects of my ideal homeschooling experience, I was still hoping for a certain homeschooling reality. I’d settle for completing an entire week’s lesson plan or finishing a picture book without my kids getting up or standing on their heads.
Finding out that our kids have ADHD, though, threw a real monkey wrench in my plans for our homeschool. I tried lowering my expectations and reducing our schedule, but I still had a hard time dealing with our situation. I found out the hard way that, if our homeschooling experience was going to be a success, I’d have to let go of the homeschooling “ideal”.
Dealing with the Sadness
My first feeling after the diagnosis was sadness. I was sad that my kids were never going to be “normal”, because I felt that they should be able to sit down for an entire school lesson and they should be able to think before they speak. I worried that other parents would look at me as an example of what homeschooling should NOT look like.
Then, there was the guilt that I felt after I realized that many of my primary parenting techniques were unfair to my kids. I had been unfair by expecting them to sit down and maintain focus during a lesson. I had been unfair by assuming that they were being disobedient when they forgot their assignments or got distracted on the way back to the table after a bathroom break. Those realizations were extremely hard to deal with.
Looking on the Bright Side
It wasn’t until I started reading about ADHD that I learned that there are positive aspects of having it. Our kids are extremely imaginative, which is a quality that can serve them extremely well both in school and in life. Plus, kids with ADHD tend to become super passionate about the topics that interest them, so the ability to focus is there if the subject is right.
The great thing about homeschooling is that we have TONS of leeway when it comes to deciding how to approach specific topics. When I use a unit study about a topic the kids like, they get excited and interested and they stay that way throughout the whole lesson. My boys are even asking to read books during their free time now, just because I started letting them choose books about topics they like. Bugs, cars, and trains are at the top of the list these days. 🙂
As an homeschooling parent to an ADHD child, it’s very easy to burn out and lose motivation to continue. The fastest way to burn out is to expect your kids to be like the ideal homeschooled kids. They may not graduate at 15. They may not read until they’re in elementary school. And they may not even potty train until they’re in PreK.
But that’s just fine. As long as you help them love to learn and adjust to their needs, they’ll still be homeschooling success stories!
This post is part of the month-long series “31 Days of ADHD Homeschooling“! Be sure to stop by tomorrow for Day 4: Understanding Your Child’s ADHD Brain!