First thing to take note of: This is very important. Homeschooling laws vary from state to state. Some are very permissive, while others are incredibly restrictive. It’s crucial that you determine what your state’s laws are, and what you are required to do (if anything) before you start. You need to do this before you pull your kids from public school and/or before they are school age. You can find the laws for every state, in very easy to understand language, at hslda.org. Simply click on your state on the map, then look to the right of your screen. Click on “Laws” and there you go!
There are a multitude of methods by which you can homeschool. Classical, eclectic, unschooling – the list is very long. The method you choose should be the one that works best for you and your child.
My sons both have ADHD. We’ve recently eliminated the medication, and are now working on a completely unmedicated basis. Therefore, a strictly regimented, classroom-like environment with a tight schedule and lots of worksheets doesn’t really work for them. They do worksheets, of course, just not on a daily basis.
This also means that purchasing a boxed curriculum that is similar in structure to a classroom style of education wouldn’t work either. Further, in some subjects, they are on grade level, which in others, they may be ahead of grade level or slightly behind. Boxed curricula do not allow you to mix and match in this way, so it would be a huge waste of money for me, as well as a gigantic source of frustration and stress for both my children and myself.
The best way to describe our method is as a combination of eclectic and unschooling. It is eclectic in that I tend to pull a bit from a few other methods to create something that works for us and in the sense that I pull together my materials from a variety of sources in order to ensure that what my son is working on is something that is beneficial to him. For example, I can use 2-3 different websites to get math materials that will help my oldest son get caught up to grade level, as math is the subject he struggles with the most. For my youngest, I can find new sites from which to gather his materials as he often rapidly advances, usually much faster than any boxed curriculum would allow.
But we also unschool, to a degree. With ADHD, lack of concentration and focus can be an issue. This is exacerbated when they are bored by whatever it is they are dealing with. If I incorporate their interests, if I allow them to have some say and determine where we go, what we learn, or how we learn it, this can help increase their ability to focus.
If you’re thinking of homeschooling, one of the first steps you should take (after checking your state’s laws to determine how you should go about it) is to investigate the various methods of homeschooling and try to determine what works best for you and your child. A good place to start learning about the different methods of homeschooling is at Home School Curriculum Advisor. It gives a good, basic overview of some of the main methods used.
Another thing worth doing as you begin is determining your child(ren)’s learning styles. There are several different kinds, and while your child may be predominantly one over the others, it’s good to know not only which one is predominant, but where the others fall in order of how much they learn through that style. For example, both of my kids are predominantly tactile learners (meaning they learn best by doing, rather than listening, seeing, or reading), but one is more visual than auditory, and the other is more auditory than visual. It helps to know that, because I know now that when doing isn’t an option or isn’t working, I can show one, but need to explain to the other. There is a really great assessment tool here that will ask 20 easy questions that your child can answer. You can help them, and by the end, you’ll get a good explanation of their learning style.