Homeschooling and Your Adult ADD - Here's How I Do It
ADD might be the most over-diagnosed disorder of all time, at least according to Dr. Martin Whitley an Australian educator and Parliamentarian. The symptoms for ADD and ADHD can mirror a myriad of other issues. To some diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, including Dr. Whitely, it is not considered a “disorder” or “disease”, it’s actually a blessing.
He also concludes that people are overmedicated for it. That said, the symptoms of ADD and ADHD present legitimate problems for some people. Often the discussion about ADD and ADHD is restricted to school-aged children, but the disorder can be diagnosed in adults.
A visit to a psychiatrist can help with a diagnosis for adult ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). According to WebMD, symptoms are similar to those seen in children and include lack of focus, hyper focus, disorganization, and emotional issues. Homeschooling while struggling with adult ADD can present a set of unique challenges.
Whether diagnosed by a doctor or self-diagnosed, here are a few ways I deal with homeschooling and adult Attention Deficit Disorder.
Often medication will be the first thing a doctor will recommend for dealing with ADD. The prescriptions can help with focus but they do come with their own set of side effects that range from dry mouth to suicidal thoughts, all of which can be investigated on drugs.com. Dry mouth can be helped with a few more glasses of water or some Biotene.
As the safety of the children is the top priority if you do choose to take medication become aware of all the risks. Contact your doctor if you feel depressed or suicidal. Then call a trusted friend to come over and hang out for a while to keep you company.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Emotional freedom technique (EFT) are non-medication treatments used to help people work through negative emotions. ADD can come with a lot of self-blame, frustration, and anger.
A homeschooling parent struggling with ADD or ADHD might struggle with organizing the day, handing required paperwork in on time or even making sure their own needs are met. All these things can pile up, leaving the mom or dad feeling unsure of their ability to homeschool or even parent correctly. A therapist using CBT or EFT can help the client work through these negative emotions and thought processes as well as provide coping skills for the patient’s specific set of symptoms.
Affecting the Schoolhouse: Not getting what you need done
Homeschool schedules can fill up quickly, especially if mom or dad has more than one child at home. With so many curricula to ream through, library books to be returned, lessons, classes, co-ops, meet-ups, it’s virtually impossible to be the ultimate organized homeschool parent. Who’d want to be that anyway? BORING!
Learn Your Scheduling Preferences
Keeping on a schedule has been made easier with all the tech we now have at our fingertips. Use your smartphone to set up reminders, schedules, and logs of daily to-do lists and activities. Like the idea of writing it all down better? Get a day planner that offers plenty of room for notes. Make entries the second something is planned. Make a note in that day’s slot and then staple any appointment cards, tickets or receipts directly to the page itself.
I make a point to check my planner every morning by leaving it near my laptop. After a check to see what’s on today’s agenda, I draw up a list on a separate piece of paper where things can get checked off as they’re completed. Consider writing down meal ideas for a few days each week to lessen the likelihood of the 5pm rush to feed a hungry brood.
Scheduling with Older Kids
If you’re homeschooling older kids, holding them accountable to their own schedule can help keep you on track. Have them keep either a virtual planner or an old school paper one. Have them log in what they’ve done and email it to you to check. Consider using Google docs or creating a Google calendar to help everyone keep track of what’s going on.
I have our children keep a journal that chronicles the topics they’ve studied each day. Not only does it help me check off educational goals, the children also enjoy a sense of accomplishment when looking over each week’s studies.
If you live in a highly regulated state, be sure to add any required paperwork due to your schedule. In some states, missing a paperwork deadline could mean a visit from CPS and a call to HSLDA.
Whittle Down Your Schedule
Finally, whittle down the schedule, if possible. Homeschooling does not have to come with the burdensome guilt of competing with everything a public school provides. Pick a couple of things each semester to focus on until Junior or Jane hone in on something they love. Then spend time focused on that passion.
It took us several years to figure this out as I felt compelled to provide all the opportunities of a public school to my kids. It was so draining on all of us. Finally, I realized that it was an unattainable goal that would destroy us financially. Worrying about appointments and lessons was not helping build the relationships I wanted to have with my children.
Now, I incorporate quality lessons, not a quantity of lessons into our week and we all benefit from a more relaxed atmosphere.
Not every day needs be a “school” day. There are days where I wake up and say “Nope. We’re doing something else!” and listen as my kids cheer in the background. Much of the time impulsivity can be viewed as negative. Sometimes it comes across as skirting responsibilities.
Thankfully much of what we do on a non-schooling day can be given school credit. Folding laundry counts as practical arts. Adding the cost of items as we shop is practical arts and math. Reading the side of a sugary box of cereal can be counted towards practical arts, reading, science, health and library skills (some of those ingredients will have to be researched you know).
How It Negatively Impacts Homeschooling
Where impulsivity can negatively impact homeschooling is when it fails to create parameters and expectations. Children need limits and they need trusted, loving adults to set them. If the parents’ impulsivity is limiting a child’s progress, there might be a problem. Noticing this requires that the parent be aware of what they’ve been doing with the kids.
Back to the day planner or note taker app on your phone. Keeping a log of what you’ve been doing, how and what each kid is learning will keep homeschooling on track. Especially if you live in a highly regulated state like New York, you’ll want to keep a log of accomplishments to include in those quarterly reports.
Frustration and Anger
Despite being able to create their own schedules and tailor their days however they desire, homeschooling parents with ADD will probably get frustrated and angry at some point in time. Forgetting things on the schedule, components for science experiments or planning dinner can be irritating.
The important thing to do is not take it out on the kids. Step back and breathe.
A planner app and day planner can help but aren’t fool proof. Remember that you’re just human and make mistakes. Console the kids if they’re upset about missing their basketball game or the animal show at the library. It’s a good time to remind them that you’re not perfect and just doing your best.
Wrapping It Up
In all, homeschooling while dealing with adult ADD can present some challenges. Thankfully, there are a variety of ways to deal with what you’re experiencing. It might be a good idea to find a support group. HSLDA has a list of homeschool support groups on their website.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from some homeschool veterans, even though they might not have ADD, they still might be able to give you some tools that can help in your homeschool.