It can be challenging to parent and homeschool a little wiggle worm. Are you homeschooling a child who struggles with ADD, ADHD, SPD, anxiety, or other special needs? If so, here are ten tips that can help!
1. Establish Routines
Every parent knows that children thrive on routines, but routines are especially important for children who struggle to maintain attention and focus. Trying your best to adhere to a predictable routine can be extremely helpful.
2. Use Visual Reminders
Set your child up for success with visual reminders. In our home, I have a laminated morning to-do list in my son's room. The kids' bathroom door has a laminated evening to-do list. These lists did not take long to make, and they helped to cut down on parenting nagging and increase independence.
When you do give your child verbal instructions, make sure your child is making eye contact with you. Ask him to repeat the instructions back to you. If you provide written instructions as well, there is a higher likelihood that your directions will stick.
3. Try Physical Cues
Do you get tired of saying the same thing over and over and over? So do I! Coming up with a nonverbal cue to pay attention can be a simple way to decrease this frustration. A gentle squeeze on the shoulder or a hand placed on the back can help to refocus your child. Proximity can often assist with attention and focus. Make sure your child is working near you, or at least within your range of vision. If you see your child getting distracted, walk by and just tap the paper, or suggest a break. Stay on top of it if you can.
4. Minimize Distractions
Set your little wiggle worm up for success. Try to work in a room with minimal distractions. We have the most success in our dining room. Why? Because it is boring! We have also had great success with noise-canceling headphones! If you have multiple children, sometimes it helps to divide and conquer. Have one work in the dining room while another is in the kitchen. This may mean more back and forth for you, but if it results in peace, it is worth it!
5. Take Frequent Breaks
Rather than expecting your child to sit at the table for 45 minutes of math, try working for smaller increments with breaks in between. A little movement can be magical for both your child and your patience level!
Exercise is important for all children, but it is of utmost importance for wiggle worms. Make exercise time a priority for your children just as you for history, science, and reading. A dose of nature can calm, raise spirits, and improve focus for everyone!
7. Give Them Space for Calm
Learning to calm oneself and to manage frustration is an important life skill. Some children benefit from direct instruction in mindfulness and coping skills. Providing children with a space to calm down can make a huge impact on your homeschool success.
8. Catch Them Being Good
Kids who struggle with attention and focus can often feel like they are always doing something wrong, and this can impact their self-concept and motivation. Believe me, I understand how hard it can be to be patient with these wiggle worms. Still, it is so important to catch them being good! The best way to increase those desired behaviors is to praise them when they happen! A simple, “Wow! I love how hard your are working!” can change your day and make your kiddo feel great!
The truth is, we all have unique strengths and weaknesses. It is what it is! Once you accept your child — both the good parts and the more challenging ones — you are able to focus on using those strengths to assist with weaknesses.
10. Use Humor
It can be challenging to maintain patience when working with your wiggle worm. Between the impulsiveness, constant interruptions, and power struggles, it can be hard to crack a smile. But humor helps! Take a moment to change the mood of the room with a goofy face or silly joke. When all else fails, have a good laugh and try again the next day!