Thursday, November 29, 2012

Getting Your ADHD Kids Off The Refrigerator and Onto Learning

Homeschooling a child with ADHD is a challenge. These children are easy to love, but hard to raise.  However, there are many blessing along the way for both you and your child, in more ways than you can imagine.

A good “rule of thumb”:  don’t try to apply typical educational strategies to your atypical child.  Stop thinking in terms of “what works for most children”; instead, through experimentation, find out what works best for your child.

Here are some teaching tips to try out:

·        Keep your child moving as much as possible.  If you require this child to sit perfectly still and look at you intently, chances are they will not be able to listen.  In fact, they may implode!  They NEED to be moving while listening.

·        Have them do two things at once, i.e. play with silly putty, turn screws into wood, sweep or mop the kitchen floor while listening.

·         Play games such as:
  • Toss-It: Use an object for a throw-and-catch game to obtain answers, i.e. I say “A”, and then throw a beanbag to the child.  He says “B” and throws it back.  You can learn the books of the Bible, multiplication tables, provinces and capitals using this game.
  • Hop-On-It: Put cards on the floor with words on them, i.e. noun, verb, adjective, adverb.  Call out a word and the child has to jump on the correct word.
  • Jumping Jacks: Spell words or recite math facts while doing jumping jacks.
·      Allow the child to respond orally.  These children usually are “writing-haters”. Keep in mind that the object is to learn the lesson material.  Writing does not HAVE to be incorporated into each learning activity.

·        Set up a study carrel.  Use a big tri-fold cardboard stand (these are often used for science fair projects and can be purchased at Staples) that blocks out distractions. 

·      To enhance focus, try allowing earphones with instrumental music, i.e. calming classical music, guitar pieces, and orchestral selections.

·       Don’t do every problem in the book.  If the child has mastered the concept after completing half the page, circle several more and let this suffice for the lesson.  Move on from what they know, and concentrate on what they have yet to master.  The child will think he has been given a “break” because he doesn’t have to do them all.

·       Provide a checklist of the day’s assignments. Children like to know what’s coming.  They like to check off each assignment as it’s completed.

·       Adjust your speaking volume and intensity.  A very animated and upbeat style may be overly stimulating. Having a low-key teaching style may prove to be more effective.

·     Use a timer and make a game of it.  Ask how long they think it will take them to complete a task and then set the timer.

·     Squeeze more information into shorter blocks of time.

·     Let them stand while studying, and use an exercise ball for a chair. (Note: try the Hokki stool for dynamic seating - 

·     Give rewards generously for on-task behaviour. Children with ADHD love praise and rewards.  Set goals. Start with short periods of time and work up to a longer duration before giving a reward.

    Although these children may be exhausting, take time to see their God-given gifts and talents.  Remember that they are special and are destined for something wonderful, often that which is impossible for those calmer, non- refrigerator-climbing, regular-energy level children.  Delight in their boundless energy and tireless enthusiasm for life. Who knows, they might become rock-climbing enthusiasts or world famous mountaineers!

Resource suggestion: an “outside-the-box” approach


  1. I love these suggestions Ruth! Thank you so much. I can attest to the movement based activities as well. I have used the hopscotch method for a lot of different things and find it works well. We also try to "build it" first and write it only when necessary. I also would like to recommend the Hokki stool you mentioned. My son got one last month and it has helped tremendously! It seems much better than the ball and gives just the right amount of movement for him. Breaking activities up into 20 minutes bites seems helpful too and reward charts for completing work gives a great visual encouragement for some students. :) Thanks you for writing these posts. They are such a blessing!

  2. love your specific and helpful suggestions.

  3. Also... we use a wobble board (or balance board) and then he answers things orally. He loves this way of calling out answers while trying to balance. :)