Homeschooling Kids with Attention Challenges

You can’t talk about engagement in learning without noting the huge number of children who are diagnosed with attention deficits in a school setting.

Alan Schwarz and Sarah Cohen, writing for The New York Times, report:

Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (read more of the March 31, 2013 NYT report on ADHD here)

They quote doctors who are concerned that normal childhood behaviors are being pathologized because children acting like children is not as conducive to classroom management as children “sitting quietly at their desks.” Continue reading

Paying Attention vs. Being Engaged


We hear it all the time — kids being told to pay attention. 

From an adult’s point of view, this really means — think about what I am telling you to think about.

And when kids don’t look like they are thinking about whatever is on the adult’s agenda, they are said to be “not paying attention.”

In a school setting, these kids may not fit common descriptions of engagement, such as those offered by school principal Ben Johnson, which I featured on my Rules of Engagement page. I think Johnson makes good points about what engagement can look like in a classroom, but over my years of homeschooling, I’ve become aware that kids can also be extremely engaged in learning even when they do not have the appearance of “paying attention” that adults expect.

I’ve also realized that looking engaged takes its own energy and focus, and that kids in a homeschooling setting can have the luxury of not looking engaged, if their parents allow for it.
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Will School Engage Your 5-Year-Old?

Notebooks, 17 centsMy mom was a teacher. My mother-in-law was an elementary school principal. And I was valedictorian of my high school class.

I’ve been told that to homeschool is “anti-school,” but my background made me about as pro-school as could be when I was a young parent. My older children began their educational careers in school.

But this testing thing was already getting out of hand about two decades ago in North Carolina when we lived there. The EOGs, or End of Grade tests, that were instituted at my kids’ public school at that time were one of the reasons I decided to homeschool. Not only did the tests have a negative effect on many children, but the practice tests my own kids brought home were riddled with errors of logic and fact — and they didn’t even address the things I felt were important in education, like critical thinking, inquiry, logic, and creativity.

Today, we get this — “A Very Scary Headline About Kindergartners” — a WaPo article which discusses an op ed written by two top level education administrators in Oregon, who are lamenting the “sobering snapshot” provided by kindergarten test results.

This kind of thinking has our educational institutions pushing formal academics to younger and younger children.
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