Homeschooling Children with ADHD and ADD

This article offers some insight and support into homeschooling students with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder.

What Are ADD and ADHD?

ADD and ADHD were first defined as problems with maintaining focus and preventing inattention, with ADHD having the additional impact of hyperactivity. Today in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV), ADHD is the name used and it is defined as a syndrome in which a person’s behavior is characterized by various combinations of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, depending on the subtype, with hyperactivity and impulsivity often found linked together. Diagnosis looks at behavior over the past six months.

ADD and ADHD affect learning, the ability to work, socializing, and family interactions.

Choices That Homeschoolers Have and Other Schoolers Don’t

In public and private schools, classes run one after the other for one part of the day, and then students go home and typically do homework later in the day. This may not be the best organization of the day for a child with ADD or ADHD, and in a homeschool, you can do something about it.

First, you can make classes shorter and take breaks in between for as long as makes sense. Second, classes needn’t begin at 7:30 a.m. or 8:00 a.m. or even 9:00 a.m. You can organize the day to take advantage of your child’s most productive times.

Third, and this is a biggie, classes and homework don’t have to run consecutively. If it is advantageous to your child (and you may only know by experimentation), you could set up several “work stations” with different subjects’ instruction or homework at each one. Consider your child on task if he or she is at any of the stations or moving from one to the other, rather than having to sit in one place till a particular task is done.

If this seems attractive or effective, you can also set up this kind of arrangement with computer work, whether online, using a DVD, or simply doing work through a work processing or other type of application. There are several ways you could do this:

• If you have more than one computer available, say a desktop and a laptop, you could set up different tasks on different computers.

• You could use the Windows or Vista capability for multiple open programs, and the same in Mac or Mac Spaces in Leopard, to set up different tasks on one computer.

• With one large monitor or two monitors, you could have multiple tasks open and viewable, and the student could move between them.


• For more information on ADHD and ADD, you might read the article “Attention Deficit  Hyperactivity Disorder” by several doctors at

• To search for products and services, try the National ADHD Directory

• ADHD is one of the disabilities recognized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which means that you may be able to find assistance through a local school. Check with your state department of education to see if homeschools in your state are (or can be) designated in such a way as to make your child eligible for assistance.

• The United States Department of Education’s Research report on ADHD called “Identifying and Treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Resource for School and Home” is available here:

• The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has advice for finding local support for mental health issues here:

• ADHD and being gifted can go hand-in-hand. Here’s an article from the ERIC digest on the relationship of the two, called “Gifted Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).”

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