Does Charlotte Mason Homeschool Work for ADHD?


Does Charlotte Mason Homeschool Work for ADHD?

In a Charlotte Mason education, there'sso much emphasis put on paying attention and how important that skill is, but whatdo you do when you have a child who has special challenges with paying attention?We're going to talk about that today. Welcome to the Simply CharlotteMasonPodcast. I'm Sonya Shafer. Today joining me is my friend and coworker, KatieThacker. Katie, thanks so much for joining us to share your experience with helping a child who haschallenges with paying attention. Can you share a little bit about your family and the situationyou're in? –Sure. Thank you so much for having me. I do have two daughters and my youngest onehas been diagnosed with ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. And that is not somethingthat would have been around as a diagnosis in.

Charlotte's time, but it's something that we'velearned a lot about. And the main thing thing for us is that her brain does not learn to payattention the way that a typical child's would. So, we have found ways that the Charlotte MasonMethod has been a fantastic fit for her as we have gone through her education. –Let's start with,what have you learned about ADHD? I hear that a lot. People talk about it. They say, “My kid mighthave it,” or, “My kid does have it,” or. . . what is “it”? You you done a lot of research into this,so enlighten me here. –So, my older daughter was a very high-energy little kid and when she was about6, 7 years old she started to mature and calm down and was able to sit still for longer. The normaltypes of progressions that you would see and then, with Cora, when she got to be 6, 7 and we werethinking this very, very active child is going to.

Start to calm down, she got more active and spenteven less time paying attention. It just got to a point where it was really, really tough for herto control her impulses and things like that. And I was very hesitant to talk to anybody about thatat first, and then there is a whole evening that God said, “You have options to get her help andI have been telling you that for a long time, but I guess I had to make it very obvious for you.”And so, we went and did an evaluation. There's a university near us that has a child study centerand they spent almost two whole days with her, doing all of these different games and activitiesand things like that to help figure out what she might have going on. And we did find out . .. they gave us a diagnosis of ADHD. And under the umbrella of ADHD as it currently stands withwhat we know is, there are two components of it:.

There's the inattentive and there is thehyperactivity. So in our situation, Cora has both and she has all nine markers for each of them.She also was not diagnosed with any other what they call “comorbidities,” so she does not haveAnxiety, she does not have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, like any of those other things that canoften travel along with ADHD. So, she likes to joke that she is a pure example of what ADHD wouldlook like. –(Laughs) And to the top! I mean, 9 in both. –Yes, she's all of them. So, as she's gottenolder (she's 13 now and she was diagnosed when she was 8), she has learned a lot of vocabulary todescribe to people what it feels like for her. –Oh, how valuable that she can express what'sgoing on inside. –Yes, it's been a huge help for us, because I read about it, and I read fromother people, but for her experience specifically,.

It's been really nice to have some understandingof what that means. And what she'll say to us, one of the things that she'll say, is that it feelslike she has two brains and that the brains do not like to leave each other alone. And so, they bothhave to be kept busy in order for her to focus on something so she will describe that she needs tobe doing something else while she's listening to something, which plays a lot into our CharlotteMason lessons. –So, these two brains are not like, “Both of us are going to work together on thisparticular thing.” –Correct. Not very often, although when they do. . . and somethingthat happens in ADHD is something called “hyperfocus,” which will happen if there's aright combination. We're not quite sure what causes it because I imagine that a lot of peoplewho deal with some of these attention struggles,.

They would turn on that switch whenever theyfelt like it if they could. (laughs) –Yeah, if you could, yes. It'd be a superpower. –Right,so we don't know what it is that happens, and as Cora has described some of the things thatshe goes through, my brain goes through a lot of the same things when I'm very tired or if I'vegot a lot going on. But her mind works like that all the time, where it's hard to make yourself dosomething you know you need to do or want to do, where it's very hard to make decisions, it'svery hard to organize thoughts and to communicate what you're looking for, and it's hard to payattention. So, maybe one of those nights where I'm trying to read something that I really do want toread but I'm too tired and I find myself reading the same line over and over and over again. .. –Yes, and it's not registering at all. –Yes,.

That is an experience that she has most ofthe time that she's got to work through, for things like academics. –Wow, so, how hasthis worked with the Charlotte Mason approach, since Charlotte put such an emphasis on payingfull attention? Are you able to do a Charlotte Mason education with Cora? –We are absolutelyable to do a Charlotte Mason education with Cora, and I actually can't imagine another methodworking better for her. So, these short lessons are absolutely key. They've had to be shorteror broken into more small chunks than maybe you would typically see for someone of her age,although she is very smart and that's very common I've learned with people with ADHD. Her gift ofscience of relations is huge. She's constantly making relationships because she's got two brainsgoing about different things. (laughs) –I suppose.

They're searching all these other areas, sosomebody's going to come up with something in there. –Right, so there's all of this going on.So, she does a fabulous job with the science of relations. We do keep things very short, butvery regular, and break things up. Sometimes, more often math, maybe we would do in twodifferent times. –During the same day? –During the same day, a little bit here, a little bit there,so that we can use those parts of the brain more, so that we're not “draining those buckets,” ifyou will, too quickly for her. –How does that work with narration? –So, narration for her. . . Shedoes a great job, but very rarely can narrate well right after a reading. So early on, the guidancethat you get in a Charlotte Mason education is to read, make sure that the child's paying fullattention, and then say, “Okay, now tell me back.

What I just read.” I spent a lot of time veryfrustrated because I would just get a stare, and I would think, “Are you just putting offadmitting to me that you didn't hear anything that I said?” and get extremely frustrated. –Or, is astruggle of the will, like refusing to. . .? Yeah, a lot of things can go through your head. –Right,so I'm thinking we have a discipline issue early on. And then what I would start to notice is thatI would get frustrated and let her know that I was disappointed and that I expected better tomorrow,or you know, I'm sorry that she missed this great story . . . all those things that we learn aboutworking with a child who hasn't listened. Because that's my assumption, that she didn't listen.And then, later on, at dinner or something, something would remind her of the reading, andthere it is, there's the narration. –Hours later..

–Hours later, and I eventually realize (this wasnot an instantaneous understanding) that she may be taking the information in, but her repackagingtakes longer and so to get it back out takes a little longer. But some things that have helpedto make it so that our school day can still flow is for her to be doing something that's goingto give her the tools to be able to speak. So, when she was little, I gave her a big whiteboardand we put it up against the wall and when we were doing a history reading, she would draw stickfigures and make a comic of what was happening. We started this when we were reading Story of theRomans. So, it was very dramatic, you know, all of the different things that go on in that book, butshe would make comic scenes and draw very quickly, just stick figures, so that she could keep up withwhat was going on in the story. And she could do.

A much better job narrating when those stems werethere for her. And she was the one creating them, so they were still her personal understandingof what was going on in this story. –It's almost like leaving herself a trail of breadcrumbs.–Absolutely, and so that was a huge help. There have been other things that we've done that maybeduring. . . and a lot of it she comes up with. I can't really take credit for this. She has done areally great job of just allowing that homeschool allows for that, for her to do that. She reallylikes to use props when she narrates. So, I like to tell the story of when we endedup with a narration, I did not expect that was all about King Henry VIII and his wives thatwas all made from dairy products in the fridge. She brought them out and put them on the floor,and she had, you know, sour cream was King Henry.

VIII and I'm not going to be able to narrate itas well, but I ended up being like, “Oh, well, can you do that again because I really want torecord this?” because it was just so much fun. And so that's so much of it: she's such a joy to teachbecause she has so much creativity in what she presents when she does narrate. –And they weren'tjust random choices. She had thought it through, it sounds like, that science of relations. Shewas making a relationship with King Henry and he's sour so we're going for the sour cream. That'sbrilliant. –Yes, so she did a lot of that relating there. We've also done, with Shakespeare . . . shehas those little beanie boo stuffed animals that were so popular, and she decided that she wantedto have them all as the characters and she would do things. . . and sometimes it can get reallyhyperfocused, right? So, she spent a lot of time.

One afternoon in her free time making name tagsfor everybody for the Shakespeare play we were doing. You know, one was Cesario, but then sheneeded to also have an owl that was going to be Viola, you know the different characters andthings like that with all of the dressing up and pretending and things like that. –So she didthat in her free time? So, you would read it as usual during the school time (which, if you're notasking for a narration at that moment would make that lesson a little bit shorter in your schoolschedule), but then she's going to process it and you require the narration later in the day? Ordo you just wait for her to volunteer? –I tend to wait. I tend to wait and just hear it. I dostill ask her, especially now that she's in middle school, I asked her to say something about thereading, but I've learned to be a lot more patient.

And to just let it be silent for a second. Andwhat I get back is more like what you might get from an early narrator, just so that she's sayingsomething about it. And many times, it's not very narration-like; it's more of a comment of,”What that guy did, you know, made me mad,” or, “I would have never tolerated that if someonetreated me that way,” or something like that. Something that shows. . . she gets to do a littlebit of a reaction. –So, you know she was listening in the moment. –Yes, and it does give her, Ithink, a little hook to hold on to later. And, often, if we haven't heard anything throughout therest of the day, the next time we do the reading, when I say, “Remember about this? What can youtell me about Paul Revere?”, she's ready. She'll show me that she remembers. So, it's a little bitmore for me to keep track of in the back of my.

Mind, but like any habit, I get used to it. –Thatreally rang a bell for me, because lately I've been focusing on how a Charlotte Mason educationis all about relationships. And relationships are based on shared experiences that involve emotionsand imagination, as in you can replay the scene later, what this experience looked like, andyou replay that emotion that's connected to it. So much of Charlotte Mason is like that. That'swhy we use the living books. –Right, and they're fantastic for ADHD, because they can create thosepictures, whether they're drawing on the board as they're hearing it, or they learn to put them intheir minds. –And that's the imagination part, but what you just said sparked the emotion part,because she will say, “I did not like what this guy did,” or, “I did not agree with what this guydid.” So, she's forming that emotional relation.

As well. –Yes, we had a long time in my house whenevery time we heard the word “Napoleon” she had to make a hissing noise. So, yes we do end up withsome. . . . (laughs) –The villain! Love it. So, talk to me about habits then, because the habitof attention, are you working on that 365 days a year? –You have to be. Yes, and I in it. Asmuch as we can, to be doing it with all children and ourselves as much as we can consistently, 365days. So, early on, when we started homeschooling, we did not have a diagnosis yet, and I also didn'tbelieve that we would change anything whether I knew that there's a diagnosis or not. And I readabout the habit work, and I said, “Well, that's all we need. We just need the habit work. We justneed to do this and that'll fix all the problems and we're going to be in good shape and that'llbe all there is to it.” And working on habits, and.

Trying them, and being like, “We're not moving onuntil we have mastered this thing. We're not going to move on.” And I did learn early to break thehabits down small, to do something. . . . like, she really loves peanut butter and Nutellaon tortillas. We're not going to do anything else until we work on putting that away after wehave pulled that out and spread it all out over the counter. And I realized that all that does isdiscourage the child, because the habits take so much longer to instill. But they're that much moreworth it. Because she is going to have to live without me as her anchor at some point in her lifeand so those habits are going to be so valuable. But habits don't catch on with someone withADHD as quickly, at least in my experience, and for many people that I've talked to who have kidswith that experience, or adults. –Let me qualify:.

You said they don't catch on as quickly. You'resaying it can be done. –Correct. They can be done. They can be done. If there is a habit that youcan put the clothes on the floor, there is a habit that clothes can end up in the basket. And so,it just takes a long time to redirect. It's kind of a gravely road, right? We're not on rails, itdoesn't feel as smooth. And so, what we found is that we do focus for a while on a habit, but we'vedecided to stay with that 6 to 8 week mark. And if we only make a little bit of progress, and kindof smush down a little bit of the gravel and make it a little bit more smooth, that's okay. We arestill going to switch to something else. There's a little bit more encouragement that way. We'regoing to move on to something else, focus on that, use a different part of the habit brain and seewhere we can get with that. And sometimes we find.

When we take the focus off of something becausethere is this emotional component, particularly with ADHD, when we take the focus off, sometimesthat habit improves on its own. Because we're not drilling at it and causing a lot of guilt aboutsomething. –Yes. It's not under pressure. You know, pressure is not good for making things grow.–Right, and we have found. . . I believe you've mentioned it in some workshops or podcasts, thesteps of a habit development, of doing something first and having the child stay with you whileyou do it, and then having the child help you, and then having the child do it and you helpher, and then having her do it on her own with maybe you supervising. That has worked very wellbreaking those things down. There's a lot more that she can accomplish if she's got somebodywho's like, “Okay, well I'm gonna hang out with.

You in the evenings while you do the five minutepickup of your room,” but she's the one doing the action and then eventually it gets to the pointwhere I come down there to do the five minute pickup and she started. And then it's just bigcelebration, right? –Yes, so okay. Go to that habit: five minute pickup. Tell me what that is.–So because we still are not there on putting the clothes in the hamper, and she very much likesto do makeup, so the makeup ends up a little bit over the desk and things like that. . . –So,his is her room? –This is her bedroom. It can get really out of hand, and so we have found thatwe've done our best when each evening we do a five minute cleanup. And it has to be (we time it)five minutes. Whatever we can accomplish in five minutes. And there are days that, some days she'sable to make much more than five minutes of a.

Mess, but most days we get the room in pretty goodshape in 5 minutes and it really helps. –So when you are there with her, you know, when you started”I am here with you,” what are you doing? Are you standing there timing? Are you standing smiling?Are you going, “Go girl, go!” what are you doing? “You missed one over there”? (laughs) –So, when wefirst started, it was teaching her how to look at a big mess and make decisions. So, we always tryto start in the same order of pick up the biggest things first. So, her bathrobe tends to be on thefloor and her towel tends to be on the floor those are very big items that can make you feel likeyou've made a lot of progress very quickly. A lot of floor space opens up when you get those thingsup. So, we've broken things into categories. So, okay, let's get the bath stuff up off the floor.Okay, now the clothes. Now let's do the makeup..

And so when we started doing this, a lot of timesI would team up with her. “How about I get your jewelry straightened out while you pick up anytrash that's been there?” And we have found that gradually over time, she's making less messduring the day when she's has her free time in there. And, well she has a lot of thoughts anda lot of things and pulls out a lot of ideas and that kind of thing. So, a lot of things leavetheir resting places during the day. And so, they need to make get back. So, helping her comeup with an order of how to make decisions now that she's a little bit older, I'll start asking her,”What do you think we should pick up first?” –Good and she has experience with it. –Yes, becausefor all of us decision-making is exhausting, and for someone with ADHD, it can be paralyzing.And so, teaching her to make those decisions and.

Not to be scared of them. “What should we pickup first?” And it can take some time. She's kind of looking around, because she's trying to makethe best decision. –And both brains are talking, I'm sure, arguing probably. –Yes, “we can do thisor we should do this,” or whatever it may be, so it helps a lot that we're trying to give hersome more independence. So, she is going into eighth grade. She is doing some advanced workacademically. She's done very well, but as far as what she does independently each day, we have alittle journal that we started for her. And what I have started doing (and we're going to be changingthings a little bit this year) is that I write down her independent work that she's going to bedoing, but she watches me write it and I tell her as we're doing it. I say, “Okay, first I wantyou to do this math practice, and then I would.

Like you to read this book that you're readingfor history, and after that I want you to do this,” and we'll write down the list together. Andthen I hand her the book and she likes checking it off. That works well for her. –I love that ideaof talking her through it as you're writing it down. Otherwise, if you say, “Here. Read thisand do it”. . . –It's overwhelming, right? There's a whole list, am I supposed to do it inorder? –It's easy to ignore because it's quiet, you know. –So this year, I'm going to be talkingher through it and I'm going to have her start doing the writing. –She will write, okay. –Andit will be slower, but that's going to be part of the transition that we're going to be workingtowards. And then at some point, when she's ready, maybe it'll be sometime this year, maybe it willbe this next year or the year after, I'll have her.

Start looking at things and start deciding what'sgoing to go on that list. But already at the end of last year she was telling me, “Oh, put on therethat I wanted to make a bracelet for my friend whose birthday. . .” or, “Put on there I want todo this,” and so she would start adding things to the list. –That is so exciting. That's growth.–Oh, absolutely. We've seen a lot. –Yeah ,so when you work on the habit for 6 to 8 weeks, do youalways hit your target? –No, we do not always hit our target. (laughs) –The Nutella does not alwaysget put away? –And sometimes keeping the plates spinning can be hard. I do feel like, particularlyfor her, and I would think with many people with ADHD, habits can slip out of whack quickly. Weneed a lot of tune-ups and so we come back and we visit again to try and help. Again, now thatshe's older, when we go on to take a new habit,.

I ask her first, just like we would talk to anyother older student, “What's bugging you? What is making your day not-so-smooth? What do you thinkwe could help you work on?” And she's now at the point where she's saying, “It drives me crazythat I cannot find my clothes in the morning that I thought I had available,” or whatever itmay be. All right, let's walk through some steps that we can do. I haven't had her read Laying Downthe Rails for Yourself yet, but that's the kind of principle I'm using from my own reading of it, tohelp teach her about how. . . because she's going to have to work on her own habits. We all do,but she's going to have to really pay attention to where she's inadvertently making things harderfor herself or harder for the people around her. To help with that so we can all have the smoothand easier days, we all want that. –Right,.

Yeah. It sounds like you are doing a great jobof respecting her as a person and equipping her to be successful in life with the challengesthat she has to deal with. –And Charlotte's writings have really blessed me in that becauseof her encouragement to respect her as a person, and because of the habit work and what I've beenable to learn. And, of course, God's given me some nudges along the way of like, “I told you to do itthis way. Would you like to listen now?” (laughs) –Yeah, so what encouragement would you give to ourlisteners who may be dealing with these challenges of ADHD? How would you encourage them? –So, Itruly believe that the gifts of this personality type, of this brain type, far outweigh thechallenges. That we have the creativity and the relations and some of the emotional intelligencethat comes with it because they notice so many.

Things. It is just so wonderful to have and such agift for our family. And I'm so glad that I get to know her and all of that extra work, that soundslike work but it becomes a habit for me too, is totally worth it. –That's great. Thanksfor sharing about your experience and all the practical ideas as well. I'm sure itwill help many people. Thank you. If you enjoyed this podcast, be sure to subscribe throughiTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or your favorite podcast app so you don't miss anepisode. We talked earlier with someone else who shared with us her experience with Charlotte Masonand dyslexia. We'll leave a link to that in the show notes in case that's a challenge that you'refacing. And I'm sure you received a lot of great encouragement from Katie's episode here today.Thanks for joining me. I'll see you next time.

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3 thoughts on “Does Charlotte Mason Homeschool Work for ADHD?

  1. Hyper focal level activates for the things that they are . Narration after listening is exhausting thanks to the working memory challenges. Leaving the stems on the board helps because it helps with the working memory. For our household, learn aloud doesn’t work usually. We want to have all individuals have a book to learn alongside.

  2. I with out a doubt have one son identified with ADHD and I believe one other will most certainly be once now we have her tested. I additionally changed into identified at age 35! It changed into so indispensable! (I always had it for certain, correct bought neglected thanks to conditions.) We have to inaugurate the day with insist and insist pop-it mats for fidgety palms. The observe I retain thinking is “lodging.” I aloof need my children to enact X, but is there an lodging that might maybe inspire them? My son likes cleansing gloves when he does the dishes, let’s assume. I handiest stopped the “war of will vitality” with him when “accommodate him” popped in my head, thanks be to God. Bought the gloves and reveal, that helps him get the duty achieved (extra usually anyway!) I wish to insist headphones after I properly-organized and additionally need medication. I with out a doubt have been so amazed by the total inventive instruments and tips of us have to tackle ADHD. It with out a doubt speaks to the resilience of humans. Thanks for sharing the following tips in the video!

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