If you went to public school as a child, you probably had a few subjects you liked, a few you disliked, and one or two that you absolutely hated. Mine was Social Studies. Oh, how I hated Social Studies. The book was boring, the facts I had to memorize were boring, and the class was right after lunch. It was a recipe for disaster.
If you’re homeschooling kids with ADHD, you’ve probably noticed that there is at least one subject that they absolutely hate. If it’s an elective like a foreign language, you might be able to skip it or replace it with something else. But if it’s an essential subject (like Social Studies), you’ll still have to find a way to cover it.
Learning a boring or uninteresting subject is a challenge for any child, but for kids with ADHD it can be even harder. Since the ADHD brain already struggles with organizing thoughts and completing assignments, kids who have it can find it almost impossible to pay attention in a class they hate.
Here are a few tips to help you get your child with ADHD to learn a subject, even if they hate it!
How to Help ADHD Kids Learn Subjects They Hate
Make sure your expectations are reasonable.
First, look at your learning expectations for your child. We talked about the importance of helping our kids with ADHD set learning goals, but those goals have to be reasonable and well within their ability. For example, Tigger hated math for several years. I tried computer programs, I tried worksheets, and I tried quizzes. Nothing was working.
Then I realized that I was expecting her to complete far too many problems at a time AND I wasn’t actually teaching her the math lesson for the day. I was relying too much on the workbook and the computer program to do it for me. Now we’re using a standard-issue math textbook, I’m teaching her each concept, and I’m assigning her fewer problems per day. She’s actually thriving in math for the first time ever. 🙂
Give them space and time.
No one likes to do work with the feeling of someone constantly over their shoulder. Our kids with ADHD are no different. While they often need a little more supervision and guidance than other kids, they also need to feel relaxed in order to concentrate.
Some kids do well on deadlines, but others do not. In our family, Pooh needs a deadline in order to get him to finish his work, but Tigger and Roo freeze up and panic when they think the clock is running. For them, I use the page or problem deadline instead of the clock. I say “Let’s just finish this page” or “Let’s just finish this row of problems.” Then they relax and get to work, because they can see the end in sight.
Involve the kids in teaching.
As I got older, I found out that social studies is actually human geography. I took human geography in college last fall and I loved it. The subject matter didn’t change, but the format did. When I read the material and watched relevant videos about it on my own, I understood it and became interested. It was sitting in my classroom listening to the teacher read from the book that killed it for me.
We can do a lot to help our kids with ADHD develop an interest in a subject by just involving them in teaching. Let the kids stand up and read from the book for a few minutes. Ask them to make a quiz based on the material that YOU will have to take. Show them how to write an outline and assign them to teach the next chapter. When they feel part of the lesson, they’re far more likely to enjoy it.
Have you dealt with this situation in your homeschool? Do you have any tips for encouraging kids with ADHD to pay attention in a subject they dislike? Tell us about your experiences in the comments!
This post is part of the 31 Days of ADHD Homeschooling series! Stop by tomorrow for Day 15: Choosing the Best Homeschool Curriculum for ADHD Homeschooling!