A lot of people know that we pulled The High Plainsboy to homeschool with only 6 weeks left to go in the school year. He was at the end of his second round of 2nd grade in public school and he was drowning. His emotions were low, his self esteem hurting and he was struggling daily. We had recently received an ADHD-I diagnosis, which is the predominantly inattentive type (no hyperactivity) after a lengthy neuropsych evaluation and I had pretty much already decided that I was going to pull him for 3rd grade. Our evaluation included 7 surveys between his teacher and I as well as 4 one hour in person testing sessions. It included cognitive, achievement and executive functioning assessments, behavioral and social / emotional assessments as well as ADHD, autism spectrum and learning disability screenings such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and more. I was very satisfied with the thoroughness of the evaluation rather than going to our pediatrician, checking the boxes and getting a medication prescription. With a 15 page report in hand I was able to read, re-read and research.
Our public schools are highly rated and his teacher and other staff were trying to help him but ultimately the environment was the issue. The busy walls, the grouping of students, the chatter, the expectations and the methodology of common core math all made it truly difficult. Imagine living a life where every day everyone is constantly on your back. Your teachers are constantly correcting you and telling you to focus, your peers are always on you or teasing you, your parents are at their wits end trying to get you to complete what they consider simple tasks. Imagine your mom yelling at you to get it together and to focus and getting on to you for making the same mistakes over and over again. Eventually you start to feel dumb and not very useful. I can’t imagine feeling that way and I hate that I did that to my kid. Once I realized that he genuinely didn’t see the dish I asked him to put away or that my two step directions weren’t being ignored but were instead not registering I was able to better help him.
Within weeks his self esteem began improving. Now we have to learn to do things without mama always telling him it needs to be done but we will get there. I am getting organized a little more each week. Right now most of it is still in my head but “deschooling” also has it’s place. There is no reason to try to recreate public school at home, clearly that wasn’t working since after 2nd second grade he still wasn’t ready for 3rd grade. I’ve had him working on Time4Learning math, which a lot of ADHD homeschoolers use, because it’s audio visual format and straightforward method of presenting the material make it easier for ADHD kids to get and he’s blowing through the 2nd grade program. It’s all a review to him, of course, but being able to take chapter tests and score average 80% is huge for him. He understands the material and can actually do the work when he’s not drowning in overstimulation or constant distraction of a classroom. Our plan is to get through the second grade work so we can start 3rd grade in the fall. I don’t know if we will catch up to 4th grade, where he should be, or not but we will work hard and get done what we need to get done.
I’m not sure that Time4Learning will be our final curriculum for math but right now it’s exactly what we need. We are reading daily and writing a few paragraphs a week in addition to the math and that’s it for now. This summer I’m going to require “Power Hour” for both my elementary kids: 20 minutes of reading, 10 minutes of writing, 30 minutes of math. I will be homeschooling The High Plainsgirl for 2nd grade as well so this will help her get familiar with some of what we have already been doing but also help the summer slide. We are moving in the middle of the summer so once we are in WY and settled it will be time to start our first formal school year at home. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with her just yet. It may simply be the WY online K12 so that if I decide to transition her back to public school for 3rd grade she’s on track with what is being taught. For the High Plainsboy we will be using Brave Writer for writing and language arts. I’m really excited about this curriculum and grateful that it’s Writer’s Jungle program is “designed to teach the homsechooling parent how to teach writing.” This is a must for me. I’m a 12 step program kind of person to begin with and I’m not a teacher and never wanted to be a teacher.
This is as far as I’ve gotten so far! I’m ok with where we are. The High Plainsboy has a different set of needs from the typical homeschooler. Homeschooling an ADHD kid is not easy but I feel like whatever I do is going to be better than having him shuffled through public year after year and I’m truly afraid that’s what would happen. I want him to have a real chance and for him that means one on one attention, lack of distraction and more guidance than there are resources in public school. I don’t think I will be a better teacher than those trained to do it, by any means, but I can give him the environment he needs and curriculums better suited to him.