Trying to homeschool a child with extreme ADHD is difficult. I'm not going to lie. There are times when we are talking in the mornings or afternoons and he is constantly walking laps around the dining room table. He's not trying to annoy me, he just can't help himself. He has to move. It drives some people who visit our house crazy, b/c they are trying to talk to him and he is moving around in a circle, over and over and over again. You could almost get dizzy with trying to keep up with him. And I can't even explain to you how many deep breaths I have to take during our math or grammar lessons and he's "sitting" in his chair, wiggling so much you can't help but wonder how he doesn't fall out of his chair (and he has). It is because of these impulses and movements that, when we tried just making our way through the day without some sort of order that we both nearly lost our minds.
When I first began homeschooling, I thought that we could just wing it through the day. I didn't want us to be tied to a clock b/c I felt that it took away from the freedom of being at home. BIG MISTAKE. One of the biggest mistakes I made as we started this whole thing! I figured if I had the workboxes filled and we had a general direction of what we wanted to get completed, we'd be fine! Nope. Nope nope nopity nope nope. Not in any way. Math was taking too long, he'd get too distracted with something else (mostly a hang nail on his big toe or one of the dogs who happened to be laying on the floor next to him), or he'd be moving around so much that I would have to get up and walk away before I duct taped to the wall (not really, but you know what I mean).
I don't really remember how I came to the realization that The Monk needed a timed schedule. I'm pretty sure that it was over a glass of wine one night while I was lamenting the struggles of the day with my best friend (who happens to still be a SPeD teacher), complaining about how we never seem to get anything done and how frustrated I am when she reminded me of past students that we had taught together who struggled with ADHD. She made me recall how we had to use their planners to help them get through ALL of their homework, not just what we were assigning them for our specific class, and how, for some, we actually had to write a schedule down so that we could help them learn to better manage their time. It was then that lightening struck. The Monk (and I) needed a way to help us better manage our time.
I try to involve The Monk in as much of my planning for school as possible. I want him to feel as though he gets to help make decisions regarding his education, b/c it is, after all, HIS education. So, we sat down one day and talked about how he wanted to be learning. I showed him about how we can split up our day, how long lessons should take us (based on the subject) and how we can get what we want done using a clock. He loved it! He was very enthusiastic about deciding when he wanted to do things, how much time we should have for lunch (an hour, b/c it gives him time to play outside), and when we should be done (before the public school across the street gets done). He chose which subjects we were going to do when (math first thing, b/c he doesn't like it and it's over and done) and how we should do them (all subjects are done at a desk except for reading, where we snuggle on the floor and read together). I have to tell you, I can't even describe how much this has helped us in our journey. The Monk feels more invested in the day b/c he helped make the decisions and I feel more organized b/c I know what's happening next and when. There is very little wiggle room. We live by the times that we have set and things get done.
I never thought I would live by the clock or have to have my time managed the way that it is now. I didn't think that a watch would become a necessity just to make it through the day. However, ever since setting a strict routine dictated by time, our days have actually become freer, and less stressful. We argue less, are less frustrated, and have more fun in our classroom. It works so much better for us, and I am so glad for the watch on my wrist, b/c it really does help my day go better.