As a homeschool mother who teaches an ADHD child I sometimes find myself in a cloud of kayos, over the last few years we have found some really great ways to help our son when he is having a hard time focusing. I would like to share these tricks with other families who might feel like their drowning. Most of these are extremely simple tips or changes that can help. Best of all it gives my son a positive way to deal with things when he starts feeling like his mind is too much for himself. He was a huge help in the journey to us figuring out these tips.
1. Fidgets Are Friends
If used at the right time fidgets can be extremely helpful. The purpose of the fidget is to keep the child’s hands busy while you are wanting them to focus their mind. The fidget in their hands allows them to release any built-up energy with still being able to focus. We find fidgets are most useful when we are having our read-aloud time. Although sometimes we use them while watching documentaries, listening to classes, or even when watching plays. There are many things that you can use as fidgets. Some of our favourite fidgets include putty, spinners, beeswax, and tangles.
2. Frequent Breaks
All homeschoolers need to have breaks but what I have found is that my ADHD homeschooler needs breaks much more frequently. He usually can only focus for twenty minutes before getting fidgety or losing interest. This means that if we want to do schoolwork for more than twenty we need to take breaks. To run our day smoothly and without any breakdowns, we try to take breaks every ten minutes. Breaking doesn’t have to be anything serious it can be as simple as standing up and doing twenty jumping jacks, walking up and down the stairs, or even popping on the kids favourite song and dancing around for five minutes. This allows for a brain break and helps the child with feelings of being overwhelmed.
3. Physical Exercise
Regular physical exercise is important for everyone but I find it extremely important when it comes to dealing with ADHD. You may think that this is because people with ADHD have an excess of energy, which can be true, but I find that the exercise helps increase your dopamine levels which helps you stay focused, productive and motivated.
4. Short Lessons
When we first started homeschooling my son was struggling with simple reading skills and I thought that the right way to fix this was to use an extremely comprehensive curriculum. The problem with this approach is that the curriculums that I was choosing would take several hours a day to complete and they were all designed in a spiral approach which was extremely repetitive. We have since found a curriculum that focuses on quality in short lessons, which means we can complete it without my son getting bored.
5. Regular Sleeping Patterns
Sleeping the right amount of time every night consistently is so important for someone with an overactive mind. When my son doesn’t get enough sleep he is more likely to have emotional breakdowns during the day. He tends to have less patience when he is tired and he is very emotional. When he gets the proper amount of sleep he is better able to self-help by calming himself down and using his coping strategies.
6. Deep Breathing
Breathing seems like such an obvious thing to do, you have to breathe to stay alive. Yet, when we are having a hard time, when we are stressed or upset, breathing is one of the last things we do to calm ourselves down. When we were first learning about our sons ADHD we took a course and they really focused on different breathing techniques, we have been using these ever since. Deep breathing when upset really helped, it allows him to take thirty seconds to calm down and focus on something other than what he’s upset about.
My greatest tip to anyone who is parenting or homeschooling a child with ADHD is to have patience, have patience even when you don’t know how you could possibly stay calm anymore. Spend time with your child, I mean one on one quality time, regularly. Lastly, talk to your child, you may only see them as a child but believe it or not they can actually be a huge help in letting you know what they are needing. Be honest with your child, tell them when you are having a rough day, show them how to deal with their emotions in a positive way.