Establishing Homeschool Routines for Your Child with ADHD
While most children thrive on routines and knowing what to expect, this is especially true for most children with special needs and learning difficulties, such as children with ADHD. The problem is, I don't know about you, but I want to have a laid back, don't-make-me-plan-routines kind of summer. And that's exactly what we do around here... for the most part. This makes for a need to transition into back to our homeschool time and a life filled with more routines.
As a natural self-motivator, albeit a lazy one, I have had to figure out the best ways to introduce routines into our school day -- especially for my oldest son who as Asperger's Syndrome (a high-functioning form of Autism) and ADHD. I grew up just doing whatever needed to be done for school on my own without even a need for my parents to inquire about homework being done or tests being studied for. It's just in my nature. It's not, however, in my son's nature. That means that routines become even more important.
Ways to Transition to Back to School Time and Establish Routines for Your Child with ADHD (and Other Special Learning Needs)
Write your first day of school on the calendar (and then stick with it)
It's easy during a lazy, relaxing summer to not pin down exactly what your start date for starting up your new homeschool year will be. However, a child who thrives on some kind of routine will not be thrilled if you tell them one day, "We're starting school back up tomorrow." They need to prepare mentally for the change in their days with some warning.
Of course, sometimes there is a need to switch your start date. Just try to give your child a warning about it as far ahead of time as possible.
Use a set schedule for your homeschool days
Now, maybe you're like me and this sounds horrible. I've never been able to say, "We'll do science from 1:25 - 1:50 pm each afternoon," or the like. Even though I have to work to establish routines for my son, I also need to work within the parameters that are comfortable to my nature as well.
Instead, in our home, we just have a school days that tends to run with the same rhythm each day. My son knows that we start our day with all of the kids together for a couple of items before breaking off into independent work time. The independent work time takes up much of our school day and what it really means is that they're each doing different levels of the same subjects and I'm around constantly to help when people have questions or get stuck. Our school day always concludes with a couple more subjects that we do together. Even though there isn't a time breakdown, my son (and the other kids too) know what to expect from this rhythm.
Post assignments or have an assignment book
The year that I decided to start using assignment sheets with the kids was the year that made my son the happiest. Even with a rhythm in place, he still would ask questions about what we were specifically going to be doing, which I will not so proudly admit that I sometimes replied in a frazzled state, "Just wait, we'll get there."
We now use assignment books and I write each child's assignments into them one week at a time. All of the kids, whether there are special learning needs or not, love not only seeing what their assignments are for the whole day (and week), but they get a thrill from crossing off work as they finish it.
Pair up preferred and non-preferred tasks
One of the things that saves my son's sanity during the school day is the fact that we have gotten into a routine of doing math first during independent work time, which often takes him a great deal of time and almost always necessitates me sitting next to him throughout just to keep him on task, and then he is free to do his silent reading time, which is one of his most preferred things to do even outside of formal school time, directly afterward.
By choosing this rhythm to our routine, it allows him to unwind from a more stressful time. It also helps him be able to gear back up to get ready for the rest of his independent work.
Just remember, however, every child is different, so only you can find the just the right routine for your child!
Other homeschool mamas: How do you handle the transition back to your school year?