Homeschooling an ADHD child

Hello everyone,

I hope everyone is doing well.  This post is going to be mainly about what it is like home-schooling our son, Little A, who  has ADHD just like his father did at his age. I will start out saying that I had always wanted to home-school my children even when I was a child myself. I had a sort of romanticized vision of how I would go about it and how my children would love learning, and how I would have their rapt attention when I would read them classics and teach them second, third, and maybe fourth languages.  As I am sure you know, this is not how it normally works out. Things don’t normally turn out as picture perfect as they do in your head.

Starting off in my parenting adventure I got married and gained a wonderful, and energetic young boy, who was already enrolled in public school. Well, at that time I put my homeschooling fantasies on hold, and my husband and I worked on working jobs and then opening our own business while our son was at school. In the beginning our son struggled a little, but once we had our first IEP meeting to discuss the problems they were having with Little A things seemed to get much better. They implemented a reward system for him staying on task, and in his seat. They created another reward system for him eating/chewing things that he shouldn’t (mostly his pencils, and erasers, and a few times paper).

This seemed to work wonderfully for him through to first grade. Then when he got to third all the problems that we thought we had left behind not only crept back up but increased terribly. Now, one thing I noticed is his classroom size also had increased. It doubled in size.  He had trouble staying in his seat and would wander when he should be sitting, he would get up to help other students before even finishing his own work.  His grades were dropping though he new all the information. He just could not seem to stay connected with the tasks they gave him.

I would have loved to stop right there and home-school him, but was worried that with our business and being pregnant, then with an infant that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with his needs as his teacher. We decided along with his therapist he sees weekly that we would try one more  year, and if things did not seem to improve that it may be a good idea to either try to get a student helper in the classroom to keep him on task, or to home-school as I had been wanting.

As you can guess, things did not improve. In fact, things got much worse. In third grade the children were expected to be able to self regulate themselves and their time. This was something our son already struggled with even with the help he received. Things got so bad we thought about pulling him out mid-way through the year.  We discussed this with him, and asked what he thought. He wanted to stay and try and do better and if he was still struggling then try learning at home.

Things the rest of the year were terribly stressful. We would dread what sort of note, or behavioral slip would be coming home with our son almost everyday. We went to IEP meeting after IEP meeting where everyone was at a loss for what to do to help him. They were trying but they just couldn’t seem to give him the help he so desperately needed.

Once that school year finally ended we began to prepare for schooling Little A at home. He was excited about me teaching him, and was excited helping me look through different things we could do.  I have to admit I was not only relieved to finally be home-schooling, but I was also excited. Anyone who knows me knows that that is saying something as I very rarely get excited about things. I am a very serious personality.

We find the paperwork online for PA and fill them out, we get all the necessary files we need ready, and file everything we need to with the superintendent of our district.  It is finally official. We are homeschooling Little A.  I was slightly worried we would see the same issues we did from him while he attended the public school when we started.

Some habits stuck around, like chewing on his pencils and erasers. When I say he was chewing on them I don’t just mean little dented teeth marks in the wood. I mean splintered wood and almost no pencil left after. He destroyed pencils in one sitting. We tried doing mechanical pencils but he fidgets with the click part so much he would break them or waste all the graphite. We finally found a routine that seems to help with this issue.

First I have a little reminded written where he can see it about not eating/chewing things that aren’t food. This helps him actively think about it and stop if he starts. Then we have a little check list where he can check off if he did not eat or chew non-food items that day. Then at the end of the week he gets a reward for not acting on that impulse.

There was a lot of trial and error to set our son up to succeed even doing homeschooling. Being ADHD he has trouble focusing on things for too long with out some sort of sensory input in between. He has trouble sitting still even for short periods of time although this definitely has improved. He used to end up on the table when he was eating or coloring when he was younger. Now he just moves around in his seat or stands up(on the floor not the chair). He is very easily distracted by absolutely everything.  I mean everything. He also notices everything. He also has impulse issues, and that is what gets him into trouble most often. He will act then think about it.

When we first started out homeschooling him I looked up so many articles about homeschooling children with ADHD. One of the biggest things I have seen that reoccurs the most in those articles are checklists. Luckily I love doing checklists. I am a master list maker. My mother wrote lists, and passed it on to me. I write lists for everything. Well I started out making a list that I had and we would go through it together in the morning before he would start working. Well that didn’t seem to work out for him. He would lose track of what he was doing and would seemingly completely forget that there was more he still had to do before the end of the day.

So, I decided to have a handwritten master list that I used to keep track of what we were doing and then I would print out a nice clean(no pictures or fancy fonts as those distract him horribly) list with check boxes next to each thing he was to do just for him. I bought some very plain(colorful but no busy patterns) folders for these lists.  Each daily check list would go in the front so all he had to do was to open the folder and it was right there. No flipping through pages to distract him from actually working. This started out great.

Then he started taking all day to finish work that could be done in 3-4 hours(broken up of course) time. We tried setting time limits on each thing but he would get so distracted he would still drag everything on with out constant prodding to keep working. He knew the info but just would try and rush through it just to get it done or would get so distracted it would never fully get done.

It was at this point I went back to the drawing board. Lists helped, but didn’t keep him focused. At this point we were doing multiple day on one subject. Lets say 2-3 day math, the same for science, and everyday for writing (he started a daily journal). I decided that maybe the reason we started out so well with the checklist but then went back to struggling was because doing the same subject back to back wasn’t keeping his attention even if we were doing it in different ways. So I decided to make a list of all his subjects. I know more lists. Then break it up into things we could do daily (reading, and writing, and exercising), and things I could break up and do less often but still get the full impact from.

We ended up still having reading everyday(although that child loves reading so much he would read whether or not it was scheduled), writing everyday in his daily journal and his spelling/vocabulary work, and then also do exercising everyday as this helps him release some of his energy and gets him back on track. He does at least 30 minutes of reading everyday but normally does much more on his own time, and then we discuss what he was reading to make sure he is computing the information.

Then he practices his vocabulary/spelling words on flash cards with me, and he writes the ones he is struggling with in his notebook, then he takes daily tests on these words. First he takes the test with a word bank and we focus on him knowing the meaning of the words, then once he has the meanings down we test without a word bank to see how well he can spell them. He loves seeing how much he has improved from the first to the last test. We don’t have a set amount of time he has to master each set of words as rushing through them wont help him actually learn them. Instead we keep working on each set of words until he knows them and then we move to the next set of words.

He also is working on sentence structure, spelling, and grammar while he writes in his daily journal. At first this was a struggle as he never seemed to like writing all that much, but now he is excited to have his future kids and grand-kids read his journals, and is really getting into writing each day.

Then we break up his studying with exercise. He really loves The Flash and wants to run fast like he does. So he runs laps around our house and records how fast he can do them and then compares them to the other day’s times. We also make sure to have him stretch as he has trouble with flexibility, muscle tone, and balance/posture. He has become so much better with all these things since we started stretching everyday. Something else we started recently is doing mid-line exercises, which are meant to help connect the hemispheres of the brain in people who struggle with the things he struggles with. He enjoys doing them and it does seem to help him so far.

The rest of the day is spent doing two subjects. We have 5 days of two subjects each that we cycle through. So Day A would be say, Grammar and World history and then Day B would be Math and PA history, and so on. This way he isn’t getting bored because we are doing a subject multiple day but I can still make sure we are hitting on everything important. Now just because they aren’t on the list doesn’t mean he isn’t learning those subjects those days. Those just aren’t on the scheduled to do parts. This helps a lot with him being more excited to do his work, and then he gets excited to do the next lesson on certain subjects when they come up again.

Something else we started doing to help him try and finish his work on time is split his to do list into things he can do completely independently , and then things we have to do together.  Then if he finishes everything that needs done by a certain time, he can play, and every-time he does get it done he gets a sticker on a chart with a goal he decides ahead of time for the end of the week. He has other things we are working on on the chart that earns him stickers as well. If he reaches his goal by the week’s end he gets to choose something extra to do. His favorite is extra time on his Leapster Explorer.

So what I have learned, this far into the school year, about teaching this particular ADHD child is:

  • Make lists for yourself to keep you on track and make sure they are meeting the goals you have set.
  • Speaking of goals, sit down with your child and set realistic goals for what you want them to achieve, and how they can work towards achieving said goals.
  • Make a list for your child of what you expect of them, including reminders of what happens if they get everything done(you can do reminders of what happens if they don’t but from my experience so far and from what I have read children in general respond better to the positive end than to the negative).
  • Make sure to gently remind them how much time they have spent on a certain task periodically if it seems to be taking longer than expected. Remind them of what they get if they finish it on time, and see if they need help with something without doing it for them.
  • Set up a reward system for them so that when they are working they know what they are working towards and what they get when they achieve their goals. This doesn’t have to be a physical item that they get, but it can be if that is what you would like. Use what works for your child. My son loves books so sometimes it just means he gets more time to read. He loves playing on his Leapster so sometimes it is he gets extra time playing on that. Sometimes he wants to work towards getting an extra snack at the end of the week.
  • Keep them involved. Kids of all abilities love to feel important and involved in their own lives. Ask them what they want their goals to be, or what type of reward they want to work towards. Let them help you plan their lessons so they know what is coming.
  • Love them. I know this is cliche, but sometimes, especially with working with children who have trouble learning, things can get heavy. You can feel like you are failing, maybe even that they are. Sometimes you just have to take a break from all the expectations and just spend some one on one time on with them doing something that will bring you all peace. Take a break, recharge. Let them recharge. Things are just as overwhelming for them as it is for you. Most kids don’t want to be told they are failing especially when they really are trying the best they can.  Sometimes they are just overwhelmed.
  • Realize that things won’t likely be how you imagined, and that is perfectly okay.  Go with it. Let go of the fairy tale  homeschooling dream, and do what works best for your family. If what you try first, or second, or third, isn’t working, try something new.
  • Remember you are setting your children up to be awesome adults. Help them the best you can to learn to cope with life before they have to do most of it on their own.
  • Keep it interesting. I am sure you don’t like boring things. Neither do they. If you make it interesting they will likely be paying more attention and will retain more of the information you feed them.

I hope this helps someone who is thinking of homeschooling their child, or someone who has started but it looking for a new way to go about things. I am by far not an expert, but feel free to ask about how we do things. I am happy to help. Even if you just need to vent.

 

Thank you for reading,

The Momnipresent Mother

Beefy Vegetable Kale and Spinach Stew

Hello everyone,

If you have read my other blog posts you will know that I have two children. A one year old, M, and a nine year old, Little A. I am also currently a stay at home mother and homeschooling our oldest. He is in forth grade and has some trouble learning new topics. Once he knows them he runs with them. It is just the initial learning he struggles with. So, the majority of my day is teaching, cleaning, and playing with my kids.

This leaves little time for much else, but I love to cook. This is where my crock-pot swoops in to save the day. I seriously love that thing.  It is such a time-saver, and is so easy to make large batches of food for the three men, My husband, Little A, and M, who love to eat.  I can put as little effort or as much effort as I like into my meals I make in the crock-pot.

My go-to meal is stew. I love having that one pot have all the food groups in it, other than the fruit my family eats as desert. Although I have made desert in my crock-pot as well.  I tend to rotate different meats I use so it isn’t the same old thing every day. I also try and mix up the other ingredients that I add in with the meat for my stews and my oldest son loves making up new names for them while he is chowing down.

Tonight is a beef night, so we will be having some sort of beef stew tomorrow. I like to cook everything at night before we all start going to bed so that it is all done for the next day.  Today was my husband’s early day so he got home before the boys were in bed and was able to spend some time with them while I cooked. This means I got more time in the kitchen to cook.  So while you can just make this recipe a throw it all in and go crock-pot recipe, I added a few extra steps since I had the time .



This is Beefy Vegetable Kale and Spinach stew

(but could be renamed by my 9 year old when he eats it)

Serves : 6-12
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 2-4 hours

 


Ingredients-
  • 5lbs ground beef
  • 3 medium sweet vidalia onions chopped
  • 2 cups chopped kale leaves
  • 4 cups spinach leaves
  • 3 lb frozen vegetables
  • 1lb chopped carrots
  • 15.5 oz can of garbonzo beans/chickpeas
  • 2 24oz jars of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 24 oz jar of stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tbs Badia Complete Seasoning spice
  • 1 cup water

Directions-
  1.  Grease the inside of you crock-pot to prevent sticking. (This is optional.  I only do it maybe 1/4 the time and I have no trouble cleaning my crock pot even if things do stick to the sides)
  2. Add your frozen vegetables to the crock-pot along with the 1 cup of water. (I like to get multiple small bags so I can mix up the different vegetable blends)
  3. Add the chopped carrots to the crock-pot. (I like to mix them in with the frozen vegetables but that isn’t needed.)
  4. Pour in the garbonzo beans/chickpeas. (you can drain the liquid off but do not have to .)                                                                                                        
  5.  Place your ground beef, and Badia seasoning into a pan and cook it on high until browned.
  6. Wash, peel, then slice your onions and add them to the ground beef.
  7. Stir ground beef/onion mixture until mixed thoroughly.
  8. Wash Kale leaves, then cut the leafy parts from the stiff stem.
  9. Chop the Kale leaves up finely and them to the beef and onion mixture.
  10. Stir beef, onion, and kale mixture until the beef is browned,  and the onions and kale are softer.                                                                              
  11.  Wash the spinach and remove the stems from the leaves.
  12. Add the spinach leaves to the crock-pot.
  13. Drain the oil from the beef, onion, and kale mixture.
  14.  Add the ground beef, onion, and kale mixture to the crock-pot.
  15.  Pour in the spaghetti sauce and stewed tomatoes over-top of the beef mixture. (you may need to stick a spoon in to the bottom to make sure the sauce drains to the bottom and doesn’t simply rest atop the rest.)
  16. Let the crock-pot sit for an hour or more if you would like and then stir the mixture slightly.
  17. Let the crock-pot sit for 2-3 more hours. (Or let it sit until the frozen vegetables are cooked to your liking. My husband prefers squishier vegetables over crisp.)
  18. Enjoy!                                                                                             

Now, with this recipe as so many you can add or remove things you like or dislike. You can also reduce the serving sizes by scaling down the measurements if that is what you need. You could even scale it up if you are feeding more people. Change it up if you would like or try it out the way it is listed. It is all up to you, the fabulous cook.

We hope you enjoy this recipe and stay-tuned for more tasty morsels. (Christmas is coming soon so you may well see some sugary, or not so much in our case, but still sweet , treat recipes.)

Thank you for reading,

The Momnipresent Mother

 

Christmas is Coming

have-yourself-a-merry-little-christmas

Most of you who celebrate Christmas I am sure the date on the calendar  has been sneaking up on you quickly. It has for our household. I know most of my other friends with children are also becoming more and more stressed the closer it gets.

Christmas is a stressful time for many for many different reasons. Some worry about the impact the holidays will have on their budget, or if they will even have enough money in their budget to get everyone something for the holidays. Some worry if they will have a warm meal as the weather gets colder, or even a place out of the cold to rest their head.

My husband and I have been in most of these situations ourselves over the years, and have met many others dealing with the same issues during the holidays.

With how much the media pushes all these new toys and gadgets, and making sure everyone gets some new gift they likely do not really need, it makes me wonder how this world would be if instead of focusing so much on spending all this money on things that in the grand scheme of things don’t matter if we focused on the the things that do.

Many churches in our area do the shoe-boxes filled with gifts and useful items to send to children in different parts of the world who barely have the necessities.  I love this idea, but why stop there? I am all for bring the joy and laughter to those in need overseas, but why can’t we do both. Most people shop for those boxes at places like dollar stores because we all know doing that many of those boxes it would end up being pretty pricey.

Why not while you are at it go to your local Women in Need Shelter, Homeless programs, Food banks, and see what they are in need of too? Many of those things they need you could also grab at a dollar store for very little money and donate to the programs that help the people who need it in your area.

Now, I am not saying that no one does these things, as I am well aware that people do, but I am hoping we can spread that giving nature to others who would otherwise not think of doing something so simple, or don’t realize there is a need in their area.

I am planning on collecting a few things with my children, although M, being only 1 will likely not understand, through the weeks and then donating things I know the different programs in the area needs with my boys at the end of each week.

As a young girl I was part of our local Girl’s Club and every year we would collect and purchase toys and gifts for adults. Then we would take a night and wrap them all. Then close to Christmas we would gather all these gifts and take them to the local shelters and Women and Need where likely these children wouldn’t be getting gifts and even more likely the parents wouldn’t be either.  I remember how their faces would light up and they would be so grateful even though it wasn’t a lot.

There are many people struggling all year round, and Christmas brings out the giving nature in many. Hopefully that giving nature will stay with people all year through.

If you are struggling to be able to provide for your family don’t be ashamed. We have been there too. Use the resources that are there for you. That is what they are their for. Use their assistance to help you pull yourself back up, keep going, and do what is best for your family and yourself.

We aren’t rich by any means but we are better off than we have been in years. We have house to live in, two car that run decently(knock on wood), our two sons are relatively healthy (eczema, allergies, and Reflux) as are we. We have beds to sleep in, and the essential toiletries to last us more than a day (try checking your local toiletry bank, some people can’t even afford toilet paper and deodorant).

I try and be as frugal as I can be. I do admit that I sometimes get a bit carried away with shopping at the dollar stores sometimes. It all seems so cheap, but once you have a lot in your cart, not so much. I tend to grab and then go back through and put the majority back.

I like to hit up our local Goodwill stores, yard-sales, thrift-shops, consignment sales/shops, and Co-ops to get good deals for my family, and for good deals on gifts for holidays and other occasions. I told myself that this year I would slowly grab a few things here and there cheaply and save them up hidden in our closet (Shhh, don’t tell our oldest son) for Christmas and our boy’s birthdays.

So far, so good, I am almost through shopping for everyone, and haven’t spent much at all, and it is still the beginning of December. Woooo.

Now to try and get it all wrapped before the night before Christmas hits. That is the hard part for me. I hate wrapping and boy does December move fast. Plus homeschooling I don’t get much time without the boys and my husband being beside me.

With all this time and money saved it leaves me with the time and money to get some helpful items, and toys to donate. My boys don’t care if their toys came from Goodwill or the likes. They don’t care if they are used and not new. They just care that they are fun.

So this Christmas I challenge you. If you are struggling, try not to beat yourself up, you are doing the best you can. Use the help where you can get it. Try not to worry about getting your kids the newest toy fad. If you are blessed with enough time and money to, help out some local families, or non-local families in need. You never know what people have been through or are going through, or when and if the same could happen to you.

Happy, (early) Christmas,

The Momnipresent Mother

megan-profile

 

Why I enjoy cloth diapering

clothesline-and-diapers

Yes, you read that correctly.

I know. I know. What? You enjoy diapers? What kind of person in their right mind enjoys diapers?

Well, I think the biggest reason I enjoy them as much as I do is because of our choice to use cloth diapers versus the disposable kind, and yes, I really do enjoy them.  I am sure the few cloth diapering moms will understand, but I think anyone who has not tried out cloth diapering and maybe a few who have will not.

I was the first one in our household to suggest cloth as an option for us when we started discussing when we would try for another child.  To tell you the truth I had always wanted to cloth diaper my children but before this point I had been a bit worried bringing it up to anyone. Oddly there seems to be a stigma around cloth diapering. Some people seem to think it is unhealthy, or you only cloth diaper is you are extremely poor. Let me tell you. That is not the case.

Well back to the beginning. Before bringing up cloth diapering to my extremely OCD/germaphobe husband I made sure to do as much research as I could manage to show him the perks of wrapping our new bundle of joy in a bundle of cloth.  He was surprisingly easy to convert to the idea once I showed him all my research, but he said he would just do disposable when he changed him.  I was okay with this as I was planning on being with our child the majority of the time.

Once I had my husband on board I did more research on how to get good deals on diapers and diaper accessories. I also love sewing so I inevitably researched how to make our own diapers for even less money.  I was all about cloth diapers for our baby we hadn’t even conceived yet.

I waited, however, to tell others about our decision to cloth diaper until we finally conceived and announced our pregnancy to everyone. As I guessed most did not take our want to use cloth seriously.  My Grandmother loved the idea as she clothed some of her children when they were young.

My mother seemed on board although she liked to joke with my husband that it wouldn’t last long and being a first time mother (to a newborn that is) that I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Many people it seemed, shared that same sentiment about my choice to cloth. The only thing is their words got under my skin and made me even more insistent that I would cloth diaper  and I would do it well.  I was going to prove them wrong.

I tried to get my mother to add in our baby shower invitations (that I wasn’t supposed to know about but I knew was coming) that we were cloth diapering and would not need any disposable wipes or diapers. I also had found an amazing site online that you can add pretty much anything from anywhere online to your registry in one place. This includes any existing registries you have at specific stores.  However, the majority of people bought clothes, and toys, but two people brought anything cloth related. I still appreciated the gifts that were not cloth diapering related they were all given with love, and that is what mattered. I did return a few things that we would never have used and then used that money to purchase diapers.

Now, something I was a little more unsure about was cloth diapering a newborn.  I new I wanted to but was unsure whether it would be worth it to buy specifically newborn diapers or just go with the one-size diapers and hope the baby was big enough to fit them.

In the end I decided to buy one-size diapers  as in our ultrasounds it showed our baby was rather large, and I figured I could work around him not fitting into one-size right away and either use the hospital newborn disposables until he did or just deal with leaks in the one-size until he fit the one-size.

Then luck struck one day at a consignment sale I was at when I found two gallon bags full of newborn, or extra-small, G-diapers.  Their were 20 in all and that should have been enough for a newborn as the outer  of the diaper was reusable. The only downside was that they did not come with the absorbent inserts. That meant I could either by second hand diapers for a little money and then buy inserts which would end up more than I paid for the diapers or I could be crafty and just whip up some inserts on my sewing machine.

Then after I had made a very large, probably too large thinking back on it now (I was very excited about cloth diapering) stash of inserts for those itty bitty newborn diapers I also found some great deals on one-size diapers. I could not make up my mind on what style diaper to try so I bought a few of each style. I am so glad I did this, as some I am not a huge fan off but others I loved and bought more of.

I bought a nice large hamper with holes for airflow at Walmart instead of the expensive diaper pails they sell specifically for cloth diapers, and bought two pail liners, which are essentially reusable water-resistant trash bags to put in the hamper-turned diaper pail. My Grandmother was very interested to hear you don’t have to keep a wet-pail (bucket filled with water and disinfectant) to store the diapers in with this new style diapers.

I was hitting up many of the fabric stores to collect fabric to make our son blankets, and things, and grabbed up a few pieces of remnant flannel fabric to cut up and hem into cloth wipes.  I was ready. ..

And then, our son was born, via c-section instead of all-natural, due to issues. I was just happy that we were both okay in the end. However, the initial estimation was rather close with his size. He was born at 9lbs 5oz, and was barrel chested/waisted. So, all the work that went into those itty-bitty g-diapers was for nothing. They still sit un-used in the top drawer of his dresser for now.  I did remove one the other morning for his baby doll who now gets changed when my son does.

Due to the issues and the c-section, and my son being heavy my husband did most of the diaper changes in the beginning.  We started out using cloth in the hospital. The first diaper he wore was cloth, but the nurses and my husband struggled so much with it we just decided to use up the disposables in the hospital and use the diapers people bought us right after he was born until he better fit into the cloth and I could better maneuver changing him.

As soon as I could I put him in cloth and never looked back. Even my husband has changed him, in cloth, multiple times and loves it. We have now been cloth diapering  for more than a year now. The rashes my son got in disposables disappeared when we switched to cloth. It turns out he has very sensitive skin and it was great I was prepared to cloth because disposables gave him a rash. I love that I didn’t and don’t have to leave the house in a hurry to go buy more diapers. I just throw our diapers in the wash every few days and dry them and can put them back on M.

Another great thing about them is that they are adorable. You can get them customized. I have yet to but I have seen some adorable customized diapers.  I love hanging the diapers out on the clothesline to dry when the weather permits. However, it turns out the man who installed the clothesline before we acquired this house did not do it correctly and the one end fell over while Little A was hanging his clothes on the line one day. Hopefully this spring or summer we can get a new one put in or if I am lucky I can give it a try myself.  Maybe if I am successful I can make a tutorial on how I went about it on here.

Well, I am sure I have gone on long enough about how our cloth diapering journey started. I am sure there will be more to come about the wonders of cloth diapering so stay tuned, and if you are thinking about cloth diapering your next little one feel free to ask any questions you need to. I am happy to help.

I hope you all are well,  and thank you for reading,

The Momnipresent Mother

megan-profile