Research has shown that children with ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, are over 100 times more likely to be excluded from school than their peers. One of the reasons for this worrying statistic is that children with ADHD often exhibit behaviours that are difficult for teachers and other pupils to manage. Unsurprisingly, home schooling has become a welcome alternative to mainstream education for many children with ADHD.
In this guide, we look at some tips and strategies to promote good behaviour and to help children with ADHD achieve their academic potential at home.
Restlessness, frustration and inattentiveness are common symptoms of ADHD, so work on creating an environment that will limit the number of distractions for your child. Remove unnecessary toys or props, keep background noise or disturbances to a minimum and sit close to one another. Treat your home-schooling area like a real classroom by setting firm expectations for behaviour from day one.
Children with ADHD often struggle with siting still and listening for prolonged periods, so promote better concentration by allowing movement, spending some time outside and using hands-on activities. Keeping your lessons short will also help with concentration and learning. Another useful strategy is to be flexible when teaching: If your child is clearly getting distracted, feel free to speed the lesson up. Conversely, slow things down when your child is struggling to take in new information.
Because children with ADHD can easily become restless, it’s worth having a daily chart or list that you can tick off to show progress in a day, or even in a single lesson. A timer can also help your child to understand how long is left on a particular activity. Frequent breaks will also help to chunk the day, making it more manageable for them.
It’s important to promote positive behaviour during lessons with your child, so use praise and rewards whenever possible. Consider using a traffic light system to help reinforce your expectations. Because of their behaviour, many children with ADHD are labelled as “difficult” or “problematic” in school, and a a result they can have issues with low self-confidence and self-esteem. Giving regular praise is one way that you can combat these issues and support healthy social and emotional development.
Finally, many children with ADHD struggle with the administrative and organisational aspects of learning, like keeping their books or equipment together. Make this easier by having a tidy work area and designated storage spaces for each topic or subject. Pencil cases and desk tidies can also help children to stay organised.
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Kaye Jones is a teacher and freelance writer, with a passion for history and education.