The Right Homeschool Curriculum for ADHD Students

Homeschool curriculum for ADHD. Homeschooling is an effective way to meet your student’s learning style. I know this because I’ve run an ADHD homeschool for 14 years. In that time, I’ve used a ton of homeschool curricula for my ADHD kids covering many subjects including:

  • Language Arts
  • Math Curriculum Options
  • History & Geography
  • Science

So, today, we’ll review these homeschool programs by subject area and then discuss which ones may be best for your ADHD child. Let’s get started.

homeschool curriculum adhd crunched balls of colored paper.

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Homeschool Curriculum for ADHD: Language Arts

Here are some homeschool language arts curriculum options that work well for the ADHD brain.

1. All About Reading

Homeschool Curriculum ADHD All About Reading Level 1 blue book cover on grey chair

If your child is not reading yet, that may be your starting point.

All About Reading is an excellent homeschool program to help homeschool moms teach their children to read.

  • Orton-Gillingham-based
  • Explicit, sequential, multi-sensory
  • Phonics instruction
  • Short lessons

The teacher’s manuals provide scripted, step-by-step support to guide you as you teach your child. Each lesson is short to meet the needs of short attention spans. Even more, it’s designed for children with dyslexia, ADHD, and other learning challenges.

2. All About Spelling

If your child is already reading but needs help with spelling, I highly recommend All About Spelling. Like All About Reading, All About Spelling is multi-sensory and uses the same letter tile system. (Meaning, you won’t need to buy more than one set.)

As mentioned earlier, when homeschooling, you can focus on working at your child’s own pace. This makes All About Spelling a great option for an older student (even high school) who may need to go back to basics. Consider these deschooling tips for additional support.

Overview of All About Learning

Benefits of All About Reading and All About Spelling (their corresponding spelling program) include:

  • The multisensory approach engages multiple areas of the child’s brain for more significant learning.
    • Children build words using color-coded letter tiles
    • Building words provides kinesthetic and tactile input
    • Visual learners benefit from the visual input of different colored letter tiles
      • Consonants are blue and vowels are red, for example

Step-by-step lesson support for homeschool parent-teachers.

Cons:

ADHD & Oppositional Behavior

As I mentioned before, just because a homeschool curriculum is a solid curriculum, does not mean it’s best for everyone.

One of the primary challenges that kids with ADHD struggle with is emotional regulation. This can look like what some experts call:

My point is never to pathologize behavior. I truly believe that children do well when they can. Most often, I refer to these kiddos as made to be independent. However, for the sake of this post, I refer to those terms to give you a picture of the child I’m referring to.

3. Explode the Code

Homeschool Curriculum ADHD Explode the Code white book cover with six red and green drawings

Does your child’s ADHD symptoms cause them to resist taking directions from you? If so, a better choice may be Explode the Code. We’ve been using Explode the Code workbooks in my ADHD homeschool for more than 8 years.

With three ADHD kids, all three of whom have dyslexia, Explode the Code has been a godsend! Like All About Reading, Explode the Code workbooks are based on the Orton-Gillingham method of phonics instruction.

Each workbook builds upon the other and it’s minimalistic design is excellent for the ADHD brain. The best part of Explode the Code is that it teaches the necessary concepts while allowing them to work independently.

Overview of Explode the Code

Benefits of Explode the Code:

  • Orton-Gillingham-based Phonics Instruction
  • Spelling
  • Reading
  • Light Reading Comprehension
  • Minimalistic Design
  • Silly sentences
  • Independent learning
  • Online Option Available

Cons:

  • Using an independent program doesn’t offer as much support in phonemic awareness, so you’ll need to address that component if needed.

4. ReadBright Language Arts

Recently, I discovered a new language arts company called ReadBright. They sent me some of their materials to review and wow! I’m impressed!

This language arts curriculum is a fantastic option for all types of learners including those with ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning challenges.

Overview of ReadBright:

Benefits of ReadBright:

  • Colorful and highly engaging design
  • Strong phonological awareness component
  • The unique “Pyramid Reading” element gives kids quick wins to increase motivation
  • Contains speech and language-processing-based exercises not typically found in traditional programs
    • Following directions
    • Positional language
    • and more!

Cons:

  • Could be visually overstimulating if your child does better with black-and-white minimalistic design

Here’s the bottom line on ReadBright: My learning-resistant son took to this program very easily. That’s a huge win! ReadBright is generously offering our homeschool community 10% off using coupon code: aheartforallstudents10!


Grammar, Writing, & More

A couple of our favorite grammar and writing programs are fantastic for ADHD, dyslexia, and Autistic learners. Easy Grammar and Daily Grams are perfect grammar programs for kids who need to work independently.

  • Short daily lessons
  • Minimalistic design
  • English grammar lessons taught step-by-step

My favorite writing program is the Institute for Excellence in Writing. Hands down the best for neurodivergent kids. Learn how to modify learning with IEW writing.

Why I Love Workbooks for ADHD

Many homeschoolers try to avoid workbooks. Here’s a quick video sharing why I LOVE workbooks for neurodivergent kids.

Homeschool Math Curriculum for ADHD

The following homeschool math curriculum includes solid options for various students, including those with ADHD.

1. Math U See

Math U See is another homeschool math curriculum that supplies ADHD children with a multisensory learning experience. A mastery-based math program, Math U See teaches solid math skills using manipulative blocks of varying colors.

The Math U See blocks are a core part of the curriculum and are color coded for each number represented.

Further, the program includes weekly video-based teaching lessons by the program’s creator, Steve Demme.

Most homeschool parents watch the videos with their ADHD child at the beginning of the week. Then, the student’s weekly assignments follow the video instruction. All in all Math U See is an excellent math program.

Overview of Math U See

Benefits of Math U See:

  • short lessons
  • hands-on color-coded math blocks
  • minimalistic workbooks in black and white
  • video teaching to support both mom and student
  • mastery-based teaching to support students who need lots of repetition

Cons:

  • video teaching is not very engaging
  • can be considered boring for some students

To learn more about the importance of considering visual discrimination when choosing a curriculum, read:

2. CTC Math

CTC Math is a solid homeschool math program that we’ve used for years. It’s an online homeschooling curriculum based out of Australia, but they have a US edition that’s very popular. Personally, I like this program for older students once they’ve got the foundational math skills and concepts.

Overall, CTC has been fantastic for both of my older daughters. They’ve used it throughout middle school and high school. (My oldest is currently doing Pre-Calculus using CTC.) There are many ways to modify CTC to meet the needs of your ADHD child’s learning style.

Overview of CTC Math

Benefits of CTC Math:

  • No more than 5-7 minutes of video teaching
  • Assignments are short with typically 10 problems each
  • Clear and to-the-point instruction with minimalistic design
  • Allows students to learn independently without mom hovering
  • Parent teachers can delete scores so kids can show what they know once they’ve learned it
  • Students have access to every grade level so if a concept needs to be reviewed, they can go back and learn it

Cons:

  • Every once in a while, there is a lesson that’s not well connected to previous learning (hit a few bumps in Algebra)

3. Times Tales for ADHD

One thing parents notice when pulling kids from public schooling is this. Their kids have been pushed along in math without mastering basic math facts.

One fantastic homeschool resource to help your child master their multiplication facts is Times Tales!

Times Tales is one of the best ADHD resources to help kids finally master critical math facts. It includes outside-the-box strategies to harness the attention and memory of the ADHD brain.

  • animation
  • narrative storytelling
  • mnemonics and
  • lots of repetition

Investing in Times Tales is well worth it for any student struggling to memorize multiplication facts.

4. ST Math

Many children with ADHD, Autism, dyslexia, and FASD struggle with abstract concepts and language. One visually-based math program that does a beautiful job teaching math skills to outside-the-box learners is ST Math.

This is a solid program for any child who likes video games and prefers to work independently. ST Math is not a full math curriculum but is a solid supplement to support conceptual understanding of math.


History & Geography

In traditional schools, this area of study is referred to as social studies. However, in the homeschool world, we call them what they are.

History and Geography.

There are several homeschool history programs out there. However, in all my years, I found the most success with a timeline-based history plan.

My ADHD homeschool history plan is streamlined and includes three key components.

  1. Choose and Read a History Spine Book of Choice:
  2. Sing History Timeline Song
  3. Create History Timeline Binders
history timeline binder on green table with colored pencils scattered around it
7th grader working on timeline binder.

For details and more of our ADHD history plan, you can read more in Simple Homeschool History Plan for ADHD: Free Timeline Worksheets.

Geography

Story of the World has an accompanying activity book that’s filled with hands-on activities for kinesthetic ADHD learners.

Further, it includes mapwork that follows the historical time period of each book.

For example, in their Ancient Times Activity book, you’ll find map work of the fertile crescent area as well as Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, and India.

Other Geography tools we’ve enjoyed include:

  1. Draw the World: An Outline of Continents and Oceans
  2. Draw the USA

Geography Games and Puzzles

When homeschooling distracted or resistant learners, there’s no more effective teaching strategy than fun! In our homeschool, we’re BIG on educational board games.

And that includes geography board games and puzzles.

I can’t more highly recommend using them to teach geography in a fun and highly effective way.

Remove the fighting by equipping your ADHD learner with tools that work with their learning style.

Science

Typically, in the early years, science is meant to be exploratory and learner-led. If your child loves bugs, study bugs.

Science is a content area subject. This means it is NOT required before high school.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t study science if you want to. In fact, kids are natural scientists.

Some science programs we’ve used throughout the years include:

While you can purchase a full curriculum, never underestimate the power of hands-on messy science. Perhaps try this baking soda and vinegar experiment.

homeschool curriculum adhd purple cover of sassafras science  with a giraffe on it to show zoology
Sassafras is a story-based science program.

Nature Study

Nature study is a big deal in the homeschool community because studying nature is an innate desire in kids. Plus, being outdoors is incredible for the ADHD brain. Vitamin D, interest-based discovery, and more.

Cindy, over at My Journey Westward, has nature study guides for you and your children. She offers LIVE science and nature-study classes in her membership.

In the end, follow your child’s interests as much as possible. There are so many resources available.

Use Learning Games

Another effective way to harness the power of your child’s ADHD brain is to make learning fun. Oftentimes, that means using learning games. When you increase the fun, you increase dopamine and open up the ADHD brain for learning.

How to Choose the Right Curriculum for ADHD

There is no one right homeschool curriculum for ADHD because all kids are unique. In the end, even the “best” homeschool programs may not be the best for your child. So, the first thing to do when choosing a homeschool curriculum is to ask yourself many questions about your child.

  1. What subjects does your child do well in? Are there any subjects that your child particularly enjoys?
  2. Which subjects does he struggle with? Which concepts cause tears regularly?
  3. What type of learner is my child?
  4. Does your child struggle to take direction from you?
  5. What are they most interested in?
    • Many ADHD kids struggle with emotional regulation. This can look like resistance to taking direction. Pairing their interests with learning objectives can make all the difference.
  6. How much capacity do you have to teach your child each day?
  7. Does your child prefer to learn independently?

As basic as these questions seem, the answers are essential to making the right choice.

Save Time, Stress, and Cash with The FREE Homeschool Curriculum Planning Guide!

sample pages of homeschool curriculum planner

Short Lessons for ADHD

Further, look for short lessons when choosing the right curriculum for ADHD students. It doesn’t take 12 years to learn anything. Don’t buy the hype that a child needs to learn for 7 hours a day. It’s not true that spending a long time on any subject leads to greater learning. When homeschooling a non-traditional learner, think less is more.


Take the Time Needed

If you’re homeschooling an older struggling student, this is another area where homeschooling shines. Just press pause to meet your child’s learning needs exactly where they are. For example, if your older child is using All About Spelling, you don’t have to spend long periods of time on it.

An older student using All About Spelling, for example, can often move through it quicker than the teacher’s manual sets out. In the end, homeschooling means you work at your student’s pace. When using homeschool tools, you’re in charge of the curriculum. It’s not the other way around.

Create the Right ADHD Learning Environment

When homeschooling, you have more control over the learning environment. Additionally, your child will no longer have to deal with background noises and distractions that come in a class of 30 other kids.

Another thing to note is that school doesn’t have to be done at a desk or in a school room. For example, you can choose alternative seating options to meet your child’s need for movement. You’ll likely find your child gravitating to a certain spot to do schoolwork such as the kitchen, living room, or the trampoline.

Physical & Sensory Input for ADHD

Further, you can schedule physical activity breaks throughout the day to optimize your child’s brain for learning. For example, you can practice math facts with your student while they jump on the trampoline in the backyard.

Here are more ideas on how to incorporate the right movement and sensory breaks into your ADHD homeschool routine. Follow their natural bent for learning. Try to let go of any expectations that don’t serve the goal of learning.

Give ADHD Kids Agency

When possible, give your ADHD child as much agency as possible. Many neurodivergent kids are wired for independence. Don’t make the mistake of trying to “teach” everything if it only leads to battles. Choose independent learning tools when necessary.

A simple way to support your child’s developing independence is to write their daily tasks in a simple spiral notebook or on these magnetic visual schedules. On the other hand, you may have a student who wants your support. In this case, offer it. Don’t worry about what other kids can do.

Focus on the child in front of you and provide them with what they need to move forward.

Why Neurodivergent Kids Need Agency

Let’s talk about why neurodivergent kids (ADHD, Autism, Anxiety, etc) often need us to get out of their way.

Socialization, Deschooling, & School-Induced Trauma

I’d like to put the socialization argument to bed. Homeschool children and families have so many opportunities for healthy socialization.

Ask any veteran homeschool mom and she’ll tell you the same thing. Learning to say, “No” to all the socializing opportunities is essential. Furthermore, do we want neurodivergent kids socialized in a traditional school system?

When in a school system (even private school), many neurodivergent children (ADHD, Autism, dyslexia) experience bullying from fellow students AND teachers. One review of the data estimated bullying by teachers to students in up to 90% of schools.

Ultimately, if you’re bringing a neurodivergent child home from school, they may have some trauma to work through. Before jumping into academics, prioritize mental health support for your child. You must allow your child time to deschool and heal.

Safe Socialization & Extra-Curricular Activities

When they’re ready, you can schedule activities that allow your child to develop social skills in safe environments.

Here’s one way to find safe interest-based social opportunities for neurodivergent children.

  1. Join your local Homeschool Facebook Group
  2. Ask about interest-based classes and clubs
  3. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, create the opportunity and put out an invite to the group.
    • (There’s always a mom and child looking for community.)

In the end, when homeschooling, your child will have more time for extra-curricular activities when they’re ready.

My Big Homeschool Mistakes

I remember the early days of homeschooling my kids. Even though I decided to homeschool my children when I was in graduate school, I still entered our homeschool experience trying to re-create school at home.

For example, I made the mistake of trying to do all the different subjects every single day.

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Math
  • History
  • Geography
  • Science
  • Read-Alouds
  • Scripture Memory

Big mistake! With a little help from my daughter’s hyperactivity and lack of attention span, I realized I needed to shift my approach. I soon realized that “school at home” flew in the face of allowing my child to learn.

Doing less was more. We scaled back to a few subjects a day so we could dive deeper and have more exploratory learning. Like many first-time homeschoolers, it took me a while to realize that “school” and learning are not the same thing.

Do We Want Them to Focus or Not?

Side note. Isn’t it ironic? One of the biggest executive function challenges of ADHD kids is sustaining attention and making transitions.

We want kids to focus and pay attention, right?

Yet within the traditional system, when ADHD kids finally focus on a topic, a piercing bell rings. And we expect them to stop and move on to the next topic. Does this make any sense?

How ADHD Impacts Your Child

ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder in the United States. Over 6 million children have ADHD, with another 2.5-4.4% of adults also with an ADHD diagnosis.

The main symptoms of ADHD include delayed executive functioning skills. Executive functioning skills are those that allow us to make wise choices. Specific to ADHD children, some of these challenges include difficulties with:

  • Following directions
  • Sustained attention
  • Planning & foresight
  • Organization
  • Working memory
  • Follow-through (perseverance)
  • Impulse control
  • Ability to self-regulate appropriately
  • Mental flexibility

Based on these ADHD symptoms alone, it’s easy to see how a child with ADHD can struggle in traditional school systems.

ADHD is Not a Lack of Attention

Further, the term Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is an oxymoron. ADHD is not a lack of attention, but too much attention to everything.

Yes. The ADHD brain receives too much information from the outside world which is incredibly overwhelming and can lead to ADHD paralysis. In children, this ADHD paralysis may look like shutting down or school refusal. However, it’s often related to the brain’s inability to filter out and prioritize what to focus on.

Dr. Russell Barkley describes the ADHD brain as lacking a proper filter to prioritize and make the right choice at any one moment.

ADHD in Traditional School Settings

Unfortunately, the public school system is set up to serve a specific type of student. And most often, that student is not neurodivergent (ADHD, autism, dyslexia, etc). By virtue of being a system, it cannot meet all students’ needs.

For example, children within the school system are often expected to sit still for extended periods of time. The ADHD brain is known to lack blood flow to the prefrontal cortex area of the brain.

Studies have shown that sitting for extended periods of time can decrease blood flow to the brain. Daily forced inactivity further impacts a child’s ability to pay attention and focus. When you choose to homeschool your ADHD child, you can alleviate this issue.

Further, you can meet the needs of your child in a holistic way. Specifically, as it relates to fidgeting and movement.

Fidgeting & Movement

As discussed, ADHD kids often struggle when required to sit still all day. Once at home, they’re able to fidget and move without being a distraction to other students.

Further, a simple change of seating can make a HUGE difference for your ADHD learners. Swapping out a traditional classroom chair for an exercise ball can provide much-needed sensory input to increase attention.

Additionally, many ADHD children are kinesthetic learners. This means they’re made to learn through movement and touch. When homeschooled, these kids can engage their sensory experiences to learn best. We often refer to this as multisensory learning.

Recap: ADHD Homeschool Curriculum

Homeschooling is an excellent educational option available for ADHD and other neurodivergent students. Whether you’re homeschooling kindergarten or high school, homeschooling allows you to tailor your child’s education in an effective way. Rather than teaching content based on grade level, teach your child based on developmental level.

There are many fantastic homeschool curriculum choices available to help. Like anything in life, when homeschooling your ADHD child, you’ll have good days and some bad days. In the end, when you see how effective and efficient at-home learning is, you’ll know you made the right decision.

Homeschooling the Distracted Child!

Sick of the uphill battles every.single.day?

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Save Time, Stress, and Cash with The FREE Homeschool Curriculum Planning Guide!

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1 thought on “The Right Homeschool Curriculum for ADHD Students”

  1. Your suggestions are great! I come from a family of six children. My mother’s side have adhd and dyslexia, with my mother being one of them. Adhd is on my dad’s side as well. 5 of 6 of us have adhd with two of us dyslexic as well. All four of my kids are adhd and only one with dyslexia…my only daughter. It’s been a tough road, but she’s doing better. We’ve done what we could with curriculum, most of it being fun filled gaming or acting out. Anything physical until I found the Master Books curriculum last year. It has made such a difference! None of the subjects are to last long, you can follow their scheduled pace or you can pace it according to your child’s abilities. My kids love their stories that go along with each subject, and they usually beg to do another page of schooling.
    I’m not sure if you have heard of this online program called Nessy. It was developed by someone with dyslexia for children. It tests them then starts where they are and doesn’t progress until they can. The games are fun, but so helpful. They have a membership for parents, schools and homeschoolers. I highly recommend it. It boosted her confidence tremendously!

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