For many parents of children with ADHD, homeschooling offers the opportunity to give their children the best education possible. It can minimize distractions and gives you more control on customizing your teaching to your child’s learning style and abilities. Some parents believe that homeschooling can give your child the best of both worlds, education and social skills, especially when you join local homeschooling groups to join on field trips and social activities.
But homeschooling isn’t for everyone. It demands a high level of commitment. It takes a great deal of time to plan lessons, teach and oversee daily work. While some parents feel it offers more freedom, others feel constricted by the time and energy required. Some find it takes away from their relationship with their children - they find switching between parent and teacher roles takes away from the parent/child relationship.
If you are considering homeschooling your child with ADHD, ask yourself the following questions, and answer honestly, before making the commitment.
Why Do I Want to Homeschool?
Think about the reasons you want to homeschool. Parents choose to homeschool for many different reasons. It could be they don’t feel their children are safe in the local school or they might not be happy with the level of academic performance at the school. They might feel their child’s special needs requires accommodations the school isn’t willing to make. They might want to include religious instruction along with the academic lessons. They might want the flexibility that homeschooling offers. Your reasons for homeschooling are probably different than your sister-in-law’s, your neighbor’s or the friend you meet at the gym for workouts. Because homeschooling is a personal venture, the reasons behind it should be personal as well. Don’t choose to homeschool because it is the right type of education for someone else. Make sure your reasons for homeschooling revolve around your child (or children). You shouldn’t homeschool because it is what is best for you or because you feel pressure from your friends, church or family to homeschool. .
How Will Homeschooling Affect Our Family Budget? And How Will This Impact My Family and My Relationship With My Spouse?
Homeschooling often requires that you, or your partner, stay at home. Some families choose to work different (such as one working first shirt and one working second shift) or flexible work schedule or to work part time but other families choose to have one person home full-time to manage the homeschooling. You and your partner should honestly discuss how changes to work schedules (or losing one income completely) will affect your family budget and whether this is something that is feasible. If you are changing your work schedule, discuss how you and your partner are going to make time for one another.
In addition to the possibility of losing income, some families report that homeschooling can cost your family somewhere around $1,000 a year. You will need to purchase supplies, curriculum’s, books and other items. Make sure your family budget can withstand the added expense so paying for these items don’t cause problems later.
What Resources Are Available in My Area?
Before diving into homeschooling, talk to other parents in your area who are currently homeschooling. Find out what resources, such as co-ops, social groups and support groups are available. While it sounds easy to simply start teaching your children at home, it isn’t always. You might need help in choosing curriculums, creating social opportunities or need someone to talk to someone about issues you are having. Having a list of resources before you begin homeschooling is a must.
Am I Prepared and Qualified to Deal With My Child’s Special Needs?
Your child has ADHD. This means he might need certain accommodations in school. Many parents find they are able to accommodate symptoms of ADHD, such as lack of focus by planning the school day accordingly. But children with ADHD also have other problems, such as learning disabilities, depression or anxiety. If your child has special needs, think about what is needed, for example, are you able to provide specialized instruction for learning disabilities? If not, will you have the ability to get your child to therapists or specialists during the day? Be sure you are making the right decision for your child.
Do You Have the Space in Your House?
Homeschooling means you will have extra books, supplies, papers, desks and bookshelves in your house. Do you have enough room to keep these items without infringing on the family’s space? Will having more clutter in your house be a problem for you? Is there an area of your house, away from televisions and other distractions, where you can set up school? Is there a way to put away the supplies at the end of the "school day" without too much trouble?
What Do I Need to Do Before Homeschooling?
The laws surrounding homeschooling vary be state and locality. Check out the laws in your area to find out what paperwork you need to submit and the requirements for reporting each year. You want to keep up with all requirements so you don’t have any problems with your local school district.
What Should I Do Before Homeschooling?
Before you begin homeschooling, you should have an idea of what your day will look like. What time do you plan on beginning the schoolday? How are you going to accommodate younger and older children (if you have a range of ages in your household.) What materials do I need? What are my expectations for my children? When will we take breaks? The more you plan, the better your day and your entire experience with homeschooling will be.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.