Homeschooling a child with ADHD

It is a myth that you must dumb down the curriculum for children with concentration difficulties. Every child with attentional issues presents with a different profile of strengths and weaknesses. 

Many parents may wonder if online schooling or homeschooling is the best solution for ADHD children. The answer is that online schooling allows parents and educators the opportunity to consider the individual learner and tailor their education to their unique needs. 

Homeschooling is a great alternative to a traditional schooling model as it assists learners with special learning needs, such as ADHD, in ensuring that they receive an internationally accredited education and teaches them how to navigate their learning in a way that makes them feel comfortable and confident. 

In this article, we will look at some of the benefits of online schooling and highlight the success that ADHD pupils can achieve when they follow a CambriLearn online schooling curriculum

What is ADHD?

ADHD is an acronym for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a cognitive condition, resulting in hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattentiveness. 

The human brain is a complex communication network, whereby messages are relayed between neurons. In order for messages to be relayed, the brain requires two key neurotransmitters, also known as chemical messengers. These are called dopamine and noradrenaline. In an ADHD brain, there is miscommunication between these neurotransmitters resulting in a variety of symptoms, both positive and negative, that can impact education, work, and even relationships.

Children (and adults) with ADHD can display symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and difficulty with executive functioning. Symptoms of ADHD include;

Symptoms of hyperactivity 

  • Difficulty sitting still in a chair
  • Fidgeting
  • Excessive talking
  • Excessive physical movement

Signs of impulsivity

  • Interrupting conversations
  • Problems with self-control and aggression
  • Poor sense of danger

Difficulty with executive function shows itself as

  • Disorganisation
  • Forgetfulness
  • Chaotic work/home environment
  • Poor planning and strategizing
  • Poor prioritising

The best learning environment for kids with ADHD

During the forced lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, families were exposed to homeschooling and online schooling. Many parents of ADHD children found that their kids responded more productively in the homeschooling environment. This is due to the fact that when children learn in a highly structured school system, the symptoms of ADHD are more evident and visible and result in considerable behaviour problems and learning difficulties — such as fidgeting in class, hyperactivity, concentration problems, memory problems and chronic disorganisation. 

Kids with ADHD do not excel in an overly structured and policed learning environment. Parents need to think outside the box and get creative to find ways to get their hyperactive child to study. Simple tasks like sitting still for long periods and keeping organised are difficult for them. This doesn’t mean that the child cannot learn, it simply means that the approach to ‘how they learn’ and the structure of their school day should be reevaluated. 

Understanding your child’s unique personality and which learning environment best suits your child is vital in ensuring that they not only thrive but also that they feel happy and confident to avoid unnecessary anxiety and pressure. 

The best curriculum for children with ADHD

When considering homeschooling, parents may question which curriculum best suits their child’s unique learning needs. The best homeschooling curriculum for children with ADHD is one that provides the family with more flexibility. The International British curriculum, which is an online curriculum that prepares the child to write the Cambridge international assessments, is a great option for children with ADHD. This curriculum can provide the child with a more flexible and personalised education – tailored to their unique learning needs. 

The CambriLearn International British or Cambridge curriculum allows children the opportunity to learn at their own pace and structure their courses and subjects to what they can manage at the time. You do not need to run according to the traditional school year so the daily workload can be split into manageable ‘chunks’ to minimise the difficulties presented by hyperactivity. Students can take various subjects at different grade levels at the same time, to tailor their learning journey to their personal learning needs.

How to manage an ADHD child in a homeschooling environment

  • Exercise: Minimise the wriggling and squirming that hyperactivity causes by ensuring your child gets plenty of exercise.  Exercise isn't just good for toning muscles, it can help keep the brain in shape, too. When kids exercise, their brain releases a mix of chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters include dopamine, which aids in paying attention.  Start the day with some exercise, this will help aid your child’s concentration during lessons later on in the day. 
  • Plan for short sessions of schoolwork: Breaking tasks and lessons into manageable bite-size pieces keeps your ADHD child from becoming overwhelmed and overreacting negatively to school assignments. CambriLearn doesn’t believe in long drawn-out lessons. Our live lessons are between 30 - 45 minutes long, ensuring that our students are able to keep their attention and are engaged throughout the lesson. 
  • Create an organised workspace: Create a flexible homeschooling schedule and set up your child’s workspace in an organised manner. Create a quiet space for your child to read, relax and take a break from their assignments. Keep your home neat and organised so that your child knows where everything goes. This helps reduce unnecessary distractions, anxiety and stress. 

ADHD can breed success

You may be surprised to hear that Richard Branson, Bill Gates, John F. Kennedy, Jamie Olivier and Michael Phelps were all diagnosed with ADHD and became notable successes. Remember, ADHD is not a disorder. It is a brain functioning difference which has its disadvantages but also has some great benefits. It makes your child more spontaneous, creative, energetic, imaginative, intuitive and inventive.

Celebrate these differences with your ADHD child by giving them an education that harnesses their unique strengths and abilities.

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