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Accommodating ADHD

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    Accommodating ADHD


    My daughter is a struggling reader. She has been for a while, but this year it really stood out. We just had a round of testing done, and it showed she had a reading & spelling disability. Currently, she is ending her 2nd grade year as an almost 9 year old. We held her back after kinder to repeat another year because her year in kinder was awful. It was during her last year of foster care, and between visits/doctor's appointments she missed a ton of school. Not to mention, they used a lot of sight words and we noticed she really struggles with memory. This inability to commit information to memory is hard in all areas of her life - socially & academically. After her testing was over it was finally solidified that she has ADHD. We always suspected it, but a lot of behaviors started falling away as her home-life with us started to normalize. We hoped the ADHD behaviors would do the same thing. As the doctor was going over the results she suggested the ONLY place for my child was in a public school setting where she could have her tests & extra materials read to her. The exact words used were, I should "open my mind" to the suggestion or possibility of public school. It was a strong attack homeschooling and being ill equipped to educate a child with ADHD.

    I would love to know if any other homeschooling moms out there have accommodated ADHD children. What worked, what didn't. If your child struggled with reading, did you hire a reading tutor? Honestly, any helpful advice about ADHD would so appreciated.


    Re: Accommodating ADHD

    *raising hand*

    My daughter is quite bright, so it was so frustrating when she was having trouble reading. I'm SO glad she was at home though and we could find the problem, early. It was frustrating because she could read books like Little Bear, but then if I pulled the same words, out of context it was hit or miss on whether she would read them correctly. Cheryl advised a neuro psychologist exam. WE did not find any specific learning disabilities, but it did show a compromised working memory problem and ADHD. (Her scores were super high in some areas and super low in others) (I believe these go hand in hand) The Simply Classical materials have been such a beautiful find for our family! It brings order to our day and Cheryl has done an amazing job helping at the skill level but allowing some higher content material for "asynchronous" learners.

    My daughter's above average intelligence was getting her through. I highly believe if she would have been in school, it would have been missed until this year or next (making it harder to correct) She is a great student, likes to learn and was generally compliant. (typical of girls) I say generally compliant, because we definitely had some behavior problems when I tried to move to fast.

    Also, I should note, I have tried a few times to move over to the "regular MP" and inevitably I end up back at Simply Classical. It really is fulfilling and wonderful!

    DD1 8/23/09 - SC5/6
    DS2 9/1/11 - SC3,4, 5/6 combo
    DD3 2/9/13 -SC2 to start, MP1 second semester

    Previous Years
    DD 1 (MPK, SC2 (with AAR), SC3, SC4’
    DS2 (SCB, SCC, MPK, SC2)
    DD3 (SCA, SCB, Jr. K workbooks, soaking up from the others, MPK)


      Re: Accommodating ADHD

      My son is 10, would be in 4th grade in public school. He has diagnosed ADHD and low IQ. He struggles with anxiety. He bombed kindergarten in public school. Well, in my opinion he bombed. The school said they would never retain a child for academics. My mind was blown. I was assured that the first grade teacher would work with him. You mean, like how the kindergarten teacher worked with him? No thanks. I bailed.

      We repeated kindergarten at home. We bombed again. It was true, I could possibly do worse than public school. Ha. I thought that because he had completed kindergarten that we could just quickly review concepts and catch up to first grade. Nope. We needed to repeat ALL kindergarten at normal pace. I eventually found Simply Classical. We did level 1. Success! The child can read, kind of. We did level 2, but did reading at classic core grade 1 pace. The child can really read now. This year we did level 3 with grade 2 literature. I found him reading Josephina's Story Quilt on the couch. He disagreed with the ending (the chicken dies), told me the author should have picked a happier conclusion. He not only can read, he can comprehend and discuss aspects of plot. That's what Simply Classical has done for him.

      Can you homeschool a child with ADHD? Totally. Is it hard? Yep, but home schooling is hard. I would say its like having your first figure out what works. If your first baby was twins, you wouldn't know any'd still just figure out what works. Homeschooling a kid with ADHD is like having twins, you adapt, streamline, and get on with life.

      I would say that homeschooling my child has the huge benefit of being able to customize his education. He really struggled with grade 2 math. We slowed way down until he got it. Even today, he really struggled with subtracting three digit numbers and he had to carry back twice. We slowed way down. There's no class to keep up with. He has no idea that his friends at school are covering long division and multiplying fractions. If he doesn't understand three digit subtraction, there's no reason to rush head long into higher level math just because that's what he "should" be doing for his age. Ditto with creative writing. He still struggles to spell his name half the time, why do we need to rush into higher level academics? Let's focus on today and get it taken care of before we start worrying about tomorrow.

      I strongly encourage your first purchase to be Cheryl Swope's book. It will assure you that yes, you can do this. Next, spend some time with the placement charts for Simply Classical. Don't guess about where she's at, really do the tests and see where she fits. You can even come back here and post her scores and we will help with placement. The curriculum is customize-able, you can choose different levels of math or reading for example.

      You mention your child was a foster child, have you considered Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? It affects memory and behavior just as you're describing.

      I can't tell whether you are currently homeschooling. Sounds like public school for kindy and first, but not sure what her second grade year was. If you schooled her, what did you use. There's no harm in mentioning other curricula here, it will help us figure out what has worked and what might be a good fit.

      You can totally do this. Sometimes our kids do need tutors and sometimes public school is an option, but it's not the only option. Just because your child has special needs or learns differently doesn't mean that only a 'certified teacher' can or should teach them. The comment that the doc made about needing all of her stuff read to you can't do that accommodation at home? Seems to me you typed a pretty coherent post, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say you can probably read directions to her. Simply Classical incorporates a lots of kinesthetic activities and encourages the student to move and interact. The buzzword here is VAKT learning. Simply means that instruction uses visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile learning strategies. Some children learn better through one avenue, ie auditory (your child can listen to you read and understand what she has heard). Another child could be polar opposite, they need to SEE the material to learn it, what they hear goes in one ear and out the other. By using all of these different modalities together to learn information, the student can rely on their strength (seeing the material), but still work on their weaker skills (listening skills). I have found no other curriculum that truly embraces this idea. The other publishers say, yes you can alter their curriculum to fit your student, but they don't tell me HOW. Simply Classical gives me the tools, it gives me the HOW, it teaches the teacher how to best reach the student.
      Last edited by Colomama; 05-10-2018, 04:49 PM.
      Married to DH for 13 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

      DS10- Simply Classical 4 / Grade 3 Classic Core,
      DD8- Grade 2 Classic Core,
      DD 6- Classic Core Kindergarten


        Re: Accommodating ADHD

        Welcome, Chelsea! *a little late to the party but raising my hand here too*

        I have twins with ADHD.

        One has the restless, overactive, blurt-out-whatever-comes-to-her-mind, disorganized (due in part to disorganized schizophrenia) type.

        The other has the glazed-over, inattentive, cannot-concentrate-unless-he-is-talking-about-something-that-interests-him-intently, highly impulsive (due in part to bipolar) type.

        I believe that both would have failed to achieve even the barest academic success in our local public school. Our local public school is wonderful for bringing confidence and cheer to children with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities. Some public school programs may be strong, well-ordered, and well-equipped to accommodate children with reading difficulties and ADHD. They may even employ sound classical pedagogy. Likewise, ws the doctor may have witnessed, some homeschools can be weak, disorganized, and poorly equipped to accommodate children with reading difficulties and ADHD. So, yes, we can be "open" to all possibilities. We want the best for our children, no matter the location.

        Your question is about your child and your circumstance.

        If you are willing and able to devote the time to teach your child 2-3 hours daily, you can do this. You might not need a reading tutor, because the SC Curriculum includes careful, sequential reading instruction. Other programs exist (e.g., Barton) for students whose dyslexia is more significant, but parents can teach this effectively alongside the SC Curriculum. We recommend starting the SC Curriculum as written. Give it time (3-6 months). To ensure success and to save your own time and money, adapt only if necessary.

        Common adaptations to SC are these:
        -omitting some components due to lack of stamina,
        -shortening some components (e.g., enrichment) to once weekly or shorter sessions,
        -substituting some components for your own favorites or for more intensive programs for more severe special needs,
        -deferring some components to summer,
        -deferring some components to the following year.
        All of these are preferable to start-and-stop approaches with SC or any curriculum, which can be the pitfall of some homeschoolers.

        Home Accommodations for ADHD and learning challenges already built into your SC Curriculum, as the other ladies indicated so well:

        1. Shorter lessons
        2. Less writing
        3. More repetition
        4. Multi-modal (VAKT presentation) for improved retention of material
        5. Explicit phonics and arithmetic instruction with multi-modal engagement in both
        6. Recitations for improved working memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory
        7. Copywork, rather than "creative" writing assignments requiring higher levels of executive function
        8. Gentler pacing of instruction
        9. Brief but rich inclusion of art, music, science, history, geography, and other engaging studies (even Latin!) -- all included because of the wonder, creativity, and humanity of all children, including those with special needs
        10. Ongoing support for the homeschooling teacher -- here on this forum and annually at our Sodalitas gathering

        With implementation, this was probably the single-most helpful strategy for both of my twins: Keep them moving and end on success.

        Brief examples:
        Early years -
        We began at the table for Bible story lessons and reading instruction. I worked with one while the other completed puzzles. From there we went outside and jumped rope with language rhythms. We then had a quick snack and returned to the table for math. Then we went outside and kicked a soccer ball or took a walk. Back home, we read more books. In the evenings we played simple math games to reinforce number sense.

        Later years -
        We began our day at the table for our Bible lesson. From there we moved to the piano to sing our Latin hymns. From there we stood by the recitation chart for Latin recitations. One child worked on the balance board, while the other stood on one foot, as we recited Latin conjugations and declensions. We then returned to the table for Latin instruction and student books. From there we took a walk or rode bikes. Then we returned to the table for math. One had a constructive rest time while I worked with the other. Then we rejoined for lunch and then literature read-aloud on the bed after lunch. Then science or history, often accompanied by a nature notebook, a map, a sticker book, or sidewalk-chalk measurements of animals outside.

        A clear schedule helps, but this can be according to the task, rather than the clock, depending on your preference. For example, you might write (or depict in pictures) the following order of the day:

        - Opening, Recitations

        - Reading

        - Outside

        - Math

        - Outside

        - Science, History, Art, Music

        - Lunch

        - Literature

        Even if you do not prefer a strict by-the-clock schedule, it can be extremely helpful to have a set time for starting and stopping. In our house, we began at 8:25 a.m. every day. This allowed me 5 minutes to overview the day and the week. This is helpful for children with ADHD to internalize order. Lessons began at 8:30.

        The only exception -- during Lent & Advent (Wed services for us), we began Thursdays 8:55 a.m.

        If children were not dressed and ready to go (two sharpened pencils) at the start time, the assumption was that they needed more sleep, so the offending party was sent to bed 30 min earlier that night. Later, when the children were older, I assessed a $1 fine for tardiness.

        Just the other day my now-23-year-old daughter (special needs), long ago graduated, said with a twinkle in her eye, "Look Mom. 8:25. Start time!"

        As the other ladies mentioned, you can do this if you want to. We will help!


          Re: Accommodating ADHD

          Btw, look at both SC 1 and SC 2 for reading. You might want to begin this summer with the SC 1 Phonics & Reading module only.

          Obtain everything needed, including the Individual Lesson Plans for SC 1 Phonics & Reading. Work through everything -- FSR books, readers, phonogram cards, phonics student books. This will help fill in those gaps created by her previous sight-word approach.

          Do this faithfully all summer, two lessons per day, if possible. She may then be ready for SC 2 by fall.

          The modules can seem confusing at first, so feel free to ask for a complete list of everything you would need for this plan, if you are interested. We will happily provide it for you.


            Re: Accommodating ADHD

            Yes, homeschooling with ADHD can be done and it can be wonderful. Of course it is hard. Everyone has given you wonderful advice.

            I'm pretty sure all three of my children have ADHD. My two boys (10 and 4) definitely do -- hyperactive type, but I'm pretty sure my daughter does too - but she is more inattentive I think. She just presents differently and I did not recognize it until recently. It's possible that her struggles are due to lack of explicit instruction and a poor learning environment. Think about all the distractions in a public school environment!

            From Cheryl:
            "Common adaptations to SC are these:
            -omitting some components due to lack of stamina,
            -shortening some components (e.g., enrichment) to once weekly or shorter sessions,
            -substituting some components for your own favorites or for more intensive programs for more severe special needs,
            -deferring some components to summer,
            -deferring some components to the following year.
            All of these are preferable to start-and-stop approaches with SC or any curriculum, which can be the pitfall of some homeschoolers. "

            Oh my this is one of my biggest struggles. I come up with a carefully thought out plan, I experience a struggle (because . . . um . . . homeschooling is hard and kids are unpredictable) and I bail and drop things or try to add too many things. Especially when you first start homeschooling it is so easy to second guess yourself and switch tactics too quickly. This has absolutely been a struggle for me.

            I'm finally really committing to the beauty and cohesiveness of SC.

            Other things that are super helpful for ADHD -- regular routines and structure. Morning routines, bedtime routines, meal times, chores, etc. Slowly adding more pieces rather than jumping in all at once and getting overwhelmed and giving up. For example, right now for school we are doing recitation, reading/spelling, math, SC writing, cursive, and Bible. I try to get to some history read alouds at night and science on Fridays. I'm concentrating on being diligent with those core subjects before anything else. For life stuff I'm focusing on our morning routine. My instinct is always to try to do all the things all at once. When I try that I fail every single time.

            A (10) - Barton, R&S math 3, SC 3
            C (9) - Barton, R&S math 2, SC 3
            G (5) - Simply Classical C


              Re: Accommodating ADHD

              Yes. And as someone with ADHD myself I cannot in a million years imagine how public school, with all the distractions and inability to differentiate instruction, could possibly be better than homeschooling! It just doesn't even make sense. At home I can send a kid to a quiet room to do their math or work by their side and redirect their attention. I can play music in the background for the child that needs the extra stimulation and gets agitated in a quiet room. I can break lessons up into shorter segments. I can let my child jump up and down or dance or even roller-skate while doing math flashcards! I can time lessons for when she is more focused, or put a lesson aside if things really are not going well and she needs a break, and do something else instead.

              None of that would happen in a public school classroom.


                Re: Accommodating ADHD

                Good points. They remind me of another tip: Get headphones!

                For seatwork while I taught my daughter, my distractible son wore my husband's big yellow outdoor noise-cancelling headphones (Michael thought they were cool, because they were Dad's).