Homeschooling is a great fit for many families, but can it work for you if you have ADHD? Absolutely! I know multiple moms with ADHD who have homeschooled their children successfully for many years. However, ADHD brings a unique set of challenges. In this article, we’ll address three limiting beliefs that might be holding you back from answering God’s call to homeschool and provide some tools and strategies to help you create an environment that will allow you to homeschool with confidence. (This article specifically addresses the needs of individuals with ADHD and executive function challenges, but the advice applies to many situations.)
Limiting Belief #1: Homeschooling seems like an impossible dream.
When you don’t fit the world’s mold (neurodivergence, learning challenges, health condition, etc.), homeschooling your children can seem like an impossible dream. Your thoughts are so focused on your limitations that you miss the invitation to step into what is possible. Audrey Hepburn once said, “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m Possible.” You do not have to be defined by your situation. All things are possible with God. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (ESV)
Limiting Belief #2: It is easier for others to homeschool their children.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Homeschooling is hard. Period. I attended a workshop by Roxanne Parks early in my homeschool journey in which she said, “Homeschooling is sanctification on steroids.” Being with your children so much reveals your weaknesses in a way I had never experienced before. It does not matter what your challenges are; homeschooling will be difficult at times. Everyone has a potential obstacle. As mentioned, you do not have to be defined by your weaknesses!
Homeschooling requires intentional effort and focus. And every homeschool will look different because you and your children are unique. God created every one of us as different as every individual snowflake. Let go of comparison and embrace the opportunity to use the strengths God gave you and lean in to support the diverse interests of your children.
Limiting Belief #3: I lack the skills to homeschool my child.
You will face obstacles and hardships during your homeschool journey. There will be times when you don’t know what to do or how best to teach your children. This is normal! When I have faced these situations, I remind myself that God rarely calls the equipped. Instead, he calls the unlikely and equips those he calls. You might not have the skills you need to homeschool your children today, but you can learn alongside them. And you are not alone! You can strengthen your faith as you lean on God and trust him to guide you and provide what you need each day. The tools and strategies below can also help you mitigate some of the obstacles.
Tools and Strategies for Homeschool Moms with ADHD
Define your purpose for homeschooling.
- There will be challenging days when you will question whether you made the right decision to homeschool. Knowing your “why” will help you persevere through difficult days. Write your purpose on a sticky note and place it where you can see it.
- Keeping your goal of what you want to achieve in your homeschool will help you make better decisions when choosing curricula and activities that support your family’s unique needs.
- Your homeschool mission statement can also help you avoid comparing your homeschool with your friends’ homeschool. Measure your success against your goals instead of measuring it against what your friend is doing in her homeschool.
Establish accountability and support.
- Accountability and support are necessary for every homeschool mom. Discuss with your husband or mentor the level of accountability and support you need.
- When you have executive function challenges, you might need additional support structures. It is okay to ask for help from your husband, friends, grandparents, mentors, support groups, co-ops, or a homeschool coach. Define how each person can support you, what you expect of them, and what they expect of you.
- You might also need support from medical professionals such as a counselor, educational therapist, occupational therapist, or doctor. They can help you find medicine, supplements, or other therapies to mitigate some of your challenges.
- In addition to teaching support, consider other areas where you could delegate tasks to someone else, such as house cleaning, meal preparation, or running errands.
Reduce decision fatigue
- If you have ADHD or executive function challenges, your brain works differently. Making decisions is more fatiguing for you than for neurotypical individuals. Expending energy to make decisions reduces the amount of energy you have available for teaching your children.
- Choosing a curriculum with planned lessons is one way to reduce decision fatigue. You might also consider working with a co-op, hybrid school, or online classes to reduce the amount of lesson planning you need to do.
- When you need to research a curriculum or find a solution to a problem in your homeschool, you might find yourself in an endless research loop of needing or wanting more information to make a decision. Set a timer and make a decision when the timer goes off.
- Having a plan for your homeschool days provides structure and accountability. It reduces the number of decisions you need to make daily. See the time management tips below or find an executive function coach to help you learn how to implement time management strategies.
- There will be times when you don’t get a plan for the week made. All is not lost! You can still do lessons that week. At the beginning of each year, create a “Back to the Basics” list that includes the essential lessons that must be completed daily, such as math, reading, and chores. Make this list based on your goals for your homeschool. When you encounter a week you don’t have a plan, pull out your Back to the Basics list and do the next lesson for that subject. Homeschool lessons for the week may look different than your ideal, but you will still be making progress.
Learn time management skills.
- We don’t have time to explore these concepts in detail in this article, but the following are some time management tips you can learn more about and begin to incorporate into your life and homeschool.
- Determine the time you need to arrive at your destination or want to finish your lessons and work backward to calculate your starting time.
- Most people, and especially people with ADHD, underestimate how long tasks will take to complete. I typically add 20% more time to my initial estimate and adjust that buffer amount as I gain more experience with that task.
- Use time-blocking strategies for homeschool lessons, errands, and household tasks.
- Reduce task switching and multitasking, which increases decision fatigue and, contrary to popular belief, actually slows you down.
- Plan for a buffer or margin in your day. Avoid scheduling every minute. Something will take longer than expected, a child will get sick, or an unexpected appointment will pop up.
- Timers and alarms are your friends! We love using the Time Timer. I’m using it as I write this article to help me focus and stay on task. Alarms on my phone help me know what I need to do and where I need to be each day. Today, I set an alarm to remind me when to start preparing dinner.
- Take brain breaks. Brain breaks are not just for children. I plan brain breaks into my day, too. They help you recharge and refresh your brain.
Make a plan for self-care
- It is essential to take care of your needs. You might roll your eyes at putting on your oxygen mask first. We hear that advice often, but it’s easy to forget. Taking care of yourself will make you better equipped to care for your family and facilitate your homeschool.
- Typical advice regarding self-care includes getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating healthy.
- It is also important to consider what drains and gives you energy. Try to reduce your energy drainers and increase your energy givers when possible. Allow yourself to have some fun and do what brings you joy. There will always be more to do when raising children and homeschooling. You can take a few minutes to invest in your self-care.
- Embrace who you were created to be. Learn more about ADHD and how to utilize your ADHD superpowers. You have unique challenges, but you also have some amazing gifts that can bring life and vitality to your homeschool.
- Finally, give yourself grace. You will have good days and rough days. Choose to focus on what went well and decide to try again tomorrow.
Crystal Wagner, CPLC, is a veteran homeschooling mom with over 15 years of homeschooling experience. She started Triumphant Learning to help moms homeschool with confidence. After she experienced the power of coaching, she started Flourish and Thrive Coaching and Development to provide strengths-based and neurodivergent-informed life and homeschool coaching to help homeschool moms cultivate a thriving homeschool, pursue their dreams, and discern their next steps after their homeschool journey is complete. You can connect with Crystal at https://crystalwagner.net/.