I know it sounds a bit defiant and naughty…but during this period of lockdown, life is difficult enough without having to battle with your child with ADHD to do schoolwork.
If it’s causing you any kind of hassle, do not do schoolwork.
Obviously if your child is happy to access the school’s online system and do a bit of formal work, then great.
But to even bring the word ‘school’ into home is troubling for many of our children with ADHD, who also may have some co-morbid traits of Autism.
School is school. Home is home.
Home is the safe place.
School may be associated with failure, sadness, guilt, shame and worry.
We should not even be thinking of calling this situation Homeschooling. It is not. Homeschooling is where families deliberately decide to withdraw their child from school and are recreating the atmosphere at home, teaching their children the curriculum and providing as many educational experiences as possible.
This lockdown situation has been forced upon us all. (For good reason)
Parents have not chosen to withdraw their children.
This is not Homeschooling.
This is trying your best in a very challenging situation to keep your children happy, safe and physically and mentally well.
So let’s put a stop to thinking that you can do schoolwork at home as effectively as a trained teacher. In most cases, you can’t.
However, there are things you can do to make this a positive experience for your child:
As much as possible, stick to a schedule. Keep it really loose. Have things to do everyday that your child can look forward to, is prepared for and knows what to expect.
Make this visual and put up somewhere that your child can see easily. You could include activities, stuff to do together, daily walks, meals. You and your family know what’s best.
Do not try to be superhuman and feel you need to learn or teach new skills, do daily yoga, create new recipes. No you don’t. You just need to do what you can to keep you and your family safe.
Your child may not be doing any formal school work. That that doesn’t mean they can’t be learning. Ask your child what they like to do. Think of their interests. If your child enjoys watching animal documentaries, then do a project on animals. Make a fact file, create a 3D model, investigate the habitat.
When your child is engaged in something they are motivated to do there will be tons of learning opportunities.
Don’t worry too much about screens. Your child is connecting with friends, watching programmes or online learning and may be gaming. As long as they are doing other things too, they may be finding comfort in something safe and familiar.
An ADHD brain works best when it’s had a dopamine shot. So it’s important as much as possible to incorporate movement into their day. Walk, run, bounce, star jumps, skipping, up and down stairs, bouncing on the bed. All movement helps keep the brain happy and focussed.
Your child may feel out of control. At school they may have been blamed, punished or excluded. At home there are now rules about going out, washing hands and meeting friends. As much as possible, give your child some control over their day. Make them the expert, champion, superstar. Give them opportunities to feel successful and reward them with high fives and smiles.
This is a bizarre time and your child will experience a range of feelings. They may be missing their friends. They may feel scared, worried. They may be anxious that they are not doing schoolwork. They will hear sad stories of the many thousands of people dying, which is hard for any of us to process. So validate all feelings. Do not dismiss them. Keep talking and helping your child through this difficult time.
Headteachers feel they need to provide schoolwork to all pupils. Teachers are working hard to create online platforms and prepare work according to the requirements of the National Curriculum. This situation has been thrust upon the teaching profession and I am sure teachers are attempting to do their very best by all their pupils.
However if you know that the work set by school is just not appropriate or is causing stress, then email your child’s school and politely let them know that the work set is just not happening. Instead you are providing as many learning opportunities as possible and making lovely memories.
I am sure that in most cases, teachers will be supportive of your decision.
Let me know how you get on.