It’s 9:15. My youngest son and I are just settling down to start today’s composition class. As my youngest gathers his sentence book, workbook, and pencil, I look up at my oldest.
“What math problem are you on?” I ask.
“Five.” He replies.
I start the composition lesson with my youngest. We talk about prepositions and prepositional phrases. We take about 20 minutes to do the whole lesson. My oldest stares into space, chews on his pencil, stares into space some more, and scribbles on his paper.
“Get to work!” I remind him – several times.
He snaps back to attention. When my youngest starts putting away his composition work, I check in with my oldest again. “What problem are you on now?” I ask.
“I just started seven.”
I try not to roll my eyes, yell, rant, or threaten punishment. I send my oldest to another room to focus. I do another lesson with my youngest. Then another. It’s 10:00. My son is now on problem 10. My youngest is done for the day.
This is, sadly, a typical day in our homeschool. It’s been going on like this for years, but it’s only getting worse. So, a few months ago, I put my foot down. I took my son in to be tested for ADHD.
After a round of testing, under no uncertain terms, the tests returned a significant diagnosis of ADHD. I went into typical mommy guilt mode.
Had I done something wrong? Was I ineffective as a teacher? A mother? Was it my teaching style? Was I too relaxed? Pushing too hard? Was my discipline inconsistent and weak? Was I not helping him where he needed it? Did he really have ADHD? Was it just some made-up excuse for badly behaved children with bad parents?
I had no idea what to make of the information. But I knew that I didn’t want medication. I knew that I wanted to work more with him, and less against him. I knew that this wasn’t going to be a problem that haunted him and held him back for the rest of his life. He and I were going to work the problem and turn it into a strength… somehow.
So we are pushing through. We are learning behavioural modification therapies. I am learning to calm down and let him be – even when I really don’t want to. The problem is still very much there – yesterday he took three hours to do math. Somehow, just knowing that the problem is not all in my head is helping me cope with it.
All of this has definitely reaffirmed my choice to homeschool my children. Yes, it can very difficult sometimes, but my son is still doing very well academically despite all this, and I’m not sure he would be in a traditional school. So, we’ll stay the course and my son will be stronger for all of this, and just maybe I will too.