What exactly do I mean by “an abundant homeschool life?”
Definition of abundant
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Did you know everything in your life takes up space? Mental space, physical space, or calendar space… you only have so much room. Simplifying your life will give you more time and energy. The more space you have, the freer you’ll be to truly enjoy…well, everything.
Declutter your physical space
Having less stuff can improve your focus, lower-stress, and create more room in your schedule, whether you’re differently wired or neuro-typical. If you live in an ADHD home, with one or more ADHD brains, I’m guessing clutter and messes are a constant battle. Delayed executive functioning skills play a huge part in this. When I learned that most ADHD brains are ~30% developmentally behind their chronological age, it helped me have more compassion for my 7-year-old who currently functions (with impulse control, body awareness, his ability to put things away etc.) more in line with a 4-year-old. Rather than getting upset with the amount of clutter, I am working to find systems for him. In his case, less definitely is more. Having less stuff means, less distraction, less overwhelm, and less stressful mess. It also means more freedom, creativity, and calm.
Tip: Make the system work for them (or you, if it’s you’re challenge). Are you constantly picking up your kid’s coats from the floor and chairs? Take a moment to problem solve a new system. Ask your child what they think might work. Do they need a more accessible hook? Do they need a bin to simply toss their coat in? Do what works, not just what’s pretty.
Life is complicated, and simplifying things can feel overwhelming—which, of course, is exactly the opposite of what simplifying is all about. The less you own, the less you have, and the less time you invest in things you don’t want to do, the simpler life becomes. Subtract out anything that is damaging your home or child. (In our case, we recently removed scissors from our son’s unsupervised access, to avoid repeat upsets over damaged property.) Becoming more emotionally, physically, and mentally free for your child(ren) is one of the best gifts you can give. But you don’t have to change everything at once.
Tip: Start subtracting one thing from your life every day. Get rid of some clutter, clear some mental space, carve an hour into your calendar—make some room somewhere and enjoy your new freedom!
Address information overload
How much information do you consume on a daily basis? Between podcasts, advertisements, books, news articles, conversations at work, home, with friends, movies… and so much more. Just opening our computers, for some of us, lands us in information overload, falling down the rabbit hole of “research”. How much unnecessary information are your kids consuming? Are you (or your homeschool curriculum) filling their heads with irrelevant, pointless facts, or is the information relevant and necessary? Consider the ways you speak to and interact with your child, either during dinner conversations, as their “teacher”, or as their parent. How much of what you say contributes to information overload?
Tip: Focus on what’s relevant for their growth. Next time you open a book or lesson plan, determine its relevance to the child. Does this information really need to be taking up brain space? When you’re frustrated with your child, talk a few deep breaths before proceeding to avoid over-communicating.
Get rid of bad mental habits.
Bad mental habits carry a lot of psychological weight. Feeling sorry for yourself, dwelling on the past, and giving away your power are just a few of the unhealthy habits that will drain your mental strength.
Tip: Be an example for your child(ren) and plant the seeds for lasting mental health. When you catch yourself engaging in toxic thinking, take a deep breath, acknowledge the thought, thank it for what it taught you, and let it go. Clear the mental clutter and make space for healthier thinking habits—like gratitude, self-compassion, and realistic self-talk.
2. Eat well
Did you know “diets” are not just for adults? Childhood is a vital time to learn about healthy eating habits and balanced diets, particularly as they relate to their individual brains. People with ADHD brains are known to have more food allergies which can trigger ADHD symptoms. Giving your chid(ren)’s brain the best chance of success, and teaching them how to maintain their healthy will set them up for a better chance of success as adults.
Drink more water
Water has been proven beneficial for our health in a multitude of ways. It may improve memory and mood and decrease headaches and migraines among other things. Keeping you and your child(ren)’s brains and moods at their peak performance will help you all discover more opportunities for celebration! I recently experienced a situation where my ADHD son was having trouble focusing (in this case it was learning a new violin passage) and, after pausing to drink an entire glass of water, he settled down and quickly accomplished the challenge with ease.
Tip: Calculate the approximate number of glasses your body needs each day. Start your day with at least one glass. Subtract 3 hours from your bedtime for your last glass.
Find your best diet
Food sensitivities (link) are often common in ADHD brains. Whether you are neuro-typical or not, finding the right diet can be a key factor in you and your child(ren) having enough physical and emotional stamina to enjoy the journey.
Tip: Add more protein and leafy greens into your diet to minimize ADHD symptoms. If you’re up for the task, research and implement an elimination diet to determine any individualized ADHD food triggers.
Reduce sugars and processed foods
Added sugars, dyes, and food additives are known ADHD triggers and do not benefit anyone, regardless of brain chemistry.
Tip: Replace white sugars with “healthier” sweeteners such as coconut sugar or honey when cooking and baking. Gradually reduce the amount of sweetener used in recipes over time. Read labels and avoid ADHD triggers.
Want to improve your and your child(ren)’s memory, focus, attention, and creativity? Make sure you are getting enough good quality sleep!
Keep evenings dim
Recently, at my parent’s house, my son developed a routine based on his natural circadian rhythms. No (or very dim) lights were turned on in the evenings and my parent’s and son would rely on natural lighting to help wind down. My overly skeptical self didn’t believe this would have much impact, let alone be sustainable as we crept further toward winter. To my surprise, I discovered happy, calm evenings filled with post-dinner candle-lit family reading sessions.
Tip: As the natural light fades, keep inside lights off or dim. Consider using a low, non-blue light lamp or lighting candles in the evenings. Turn off all electronic devices and avoid blue lights at least 45 minutes before bed.
Let go of the “doing”
Let go of all the “doing” from the day by relaxing and clearing your mind so you can enjoy a restful slumber.
Tip: Use your evening time to unwind by taking a hot bath (or shower to wash off the “doing”), reading, or meditating. My son and I got into a brief routine of a 7-minute bedtime stretch with our Seven app.
Feeling a little pampered as you fall asleep can take relaxation to a higher level. From your pajamas to your bedding, to stuffed animals, feeling comfortable and snug makes a world of difference.
Tip: Invest in quality sheets, blankets, and pillows, and ask your children what they think might help them sleep better. My son sleeps better with his dream catcher and his weighted blanket.
Exercise not only keeps your body healthy, it also gives you increased energy and keeps your mind and emotions functioning at their best.
KEEP It Fun
If you don’t find enjoyment in the exercise you choose, it’s unlikely you’ll continue to do it. Luckily, there are many fitness options available for a variety of interests. My family enjoys our 7-minute workouts, bike rides, hikes, and daily walks.
Tip: Identify an activity that you’ve been interested in but haven’t tried yet and get started.
Do it together
Having a motivational partner can help you stay on track and your kids, partner, or friend can be great motivational partners.
Tip: Invite your kids to help you stay motivated and healthy and join in your workouts from time to time. You may be surprised what you can accomplish.
Play at their level
Playing with your kids is a great way to stay in shape – a game of chase, jump rope, hopescotch, frisbee, soccer, or climbing a tree perhaps? Push yourself beyond your natural energy zone and kill two birds with one stone.
Tip: Let your inner child out! Push yourself beyond your normal “play” level and delight your kids in the process.
5. Plan ahead (for the non-planner)
A simple plan can prepare you with appropriate resources and materials, create confidence, and create a comfortable homeschool rhythm.
Deschooling, in its simplest form, is recovering from public (and some private) school. It is the adjustment period a parent and child go through when leaving school before beginning homeschooling. It’s the healing period that must take place before you can really groove as homeschoolers. It isn’t a break from learning but a break from what you’ve always done (schooling) and a chance to discover and build what you want, as you shift into what you are about to do. It is best done during the traditional school year, not over the summer when most of us are used to more relaxed, free days anyway. Relax, observe, document your everyday, celebrate your natural learning, and grow from there.
Tip: Take a month for every year your child was in traditional school, deschooling. You’ll know your done deschooling when you no longer worry about ruining your child’s future (for more than 30 seconds at a time).
Create a home learning road map
Understanding your child(ren)’s strengths, challenges, interests, and learning styles, your strengths, challenges, and learning style, your home learning vision, your WHY, your strategy, your values and things you want to share with your child(ren) before they leave the home will help you create a successful personalized home education program and avoid potential burnout.
Tip: Create your personalized Home Based Learning Road Map for grater success.. Gather a few basic resources and materials you want to have available.
Reverse planning is a great way to lower anxiety from over planning, live in the now, and free up more time. Instead of stressing over what you NEED to get done, use your road map to do what matters and facilitate joy-filled days.
Tip: At the end of each day, jot down what you did and celebrate your learning. It’ll be fun to see your home learning rhythm unfold!
6. Seek nature
Nature is pertinent to our survival and helps us regulate your emotions and combat anxiety, angry, depression, and sadness. It refreshes our souls, calms our minds, and helps us re-center in an overly busy world. It is wonderful tool to help an overactive ADHD mind.
Seek nature wherever you are
Whether you live in a city, a suburb, or the country, you can find nature!
Tip: A If your child (and/or you) do not already spend much time in nature, create 1-2 specific nature related activities/challenges to do each week. Nature scavenger hunts or personal challenges to find 2 interesting things and report back to the group are some starting points. .
Nature journaling is comprised of 3 things: drawing, writing, and numbers. It is an extremely creative activity which help expand observation skills and gets us thinking in deeper ways. description of the tip goes here. Take 5-10 minutes once a week (to start) to sit quietly and document a nature observation using a combination of drawing, writing, and numbers. Notice any patterns in nature? Anything unusual?
Tip: When you nature journal, try asking yourself the following “I notice…” (say it outloud then write it down), “I wonder…” and “it reminds me of…”
Take it outside
Getting outside daily is important for everyone, especially a growing mind, especially an ADHD mind. After reading the BBC article, Friluftsliv: The Nordic Concept of Getting Outdoors, I have made more of an effort to get outside with my son, no matter what the weather.
Tip: Try to get outside daily, if only for a brief period. On nice days, consider a field trip to an outdoor nature area or simply take your work outside to a backyard, patio or park.
7. Keep it interesting
“Learning can only happen when a child is interested. If he or she is not interested, it’s like throwing marshmallows at his or her head and calling it eating.” – Katrina Gutleben
Make it relevant
Making learning relevant takes a little reprogramming and practice but once you get into a flow, you’ll be amazed at the unlimited amount of opportunities which exist in a single day. Challenge yourself find new ways of incorporating learning into your everyday activities.
Tip: Notice how many questions your child has, and how many learning opportunities these provide, if you encourage them to figure out their answers rather than responding on auto pilot.
Keep it fun
If learning becomes a chore, something that you have to struggle through, or that your child resists and resents then you’re missing the beauty of home learning. Keeping the learning fun will not only help you and your child move forward quicker but it will also strengthen your relationship.
Tip: If you start to notice burnout, keep the lesson short, take a break and revisit it later or turn it into a game. Set a a goal for your child, help them set a goal for themselves, then ask your child what and how they would like to learn. Work together.
Laughing is a great way to stay connected with others, boost our energy, and help us stay in high emotion. It also helps with our overall motivation and creates a magnetic effect for those around us.
Tip: 15 minutes of laughing burns between 10 and 40 calories a day. (Research conducted by Vanderbilt University Medical Center). Go ahead and laugh it up!
8. Observe and be flexible
Observation and flexibility are the heart of home learning. Few other models of education are as personalized or tailored. Give your child(ren) the education they deserve.
Seek to understand
Taking the time to try and understand your child (and partner, parents etc.) will make them feel important, valuable, respected, and heard, allowing them to drop their defenses and embrace your relationship. This, of course, requires a lot of patience, observation, and empathy.
Tip: Ask your child what they like (or don’t) about their current home learning. What do they want more of? Less of? What would they like to try? Make sure you really listen. Ask but don’t over ask. And, of course, remember to continue observing and adapting..
Change can be hard for many and a lot of parenting theories emphasize structure and routine for young kids. In my experience, it is easy to take this too far, creating a rigid environment with limited room for growth and exploration. Find your family rhythm with a few key anchor points remembering to leave room in your days, weeks, months, years for necessary and inevitable change.
Tip: Fall in love with exploration. Explore a new area, a new idea, a new schedule, a new education model, a new hobby etc. When you make a change, be sure to give it a two week trial period before determining the outcome, If you like, it stick with it as long as it works. If not, move on to your next brilliant idea!
Do what works for you
You are you. Your child is your child. Your partner your partner. Your family? Yours. Do what works for you, not your neighbor, not your parents, not society, and certainly not your school district. Take ideas from anyone you respect and admire and ultimately, make you do what works for you.
Tip: Jot down your successes and what isn’t working so well. Evaluate if you are trying to do something out of fear or a sense of “obligation”. Lean into the success, do more of that, and let go of any pressure to do what doesn’t work for you. There is no right way to home educate.
9. Encourage passion
I have read that passion is something we are all born with yet loose over time. As I watch and observe my son, I both believe this to be true and question it. How can we encourage (or not squash) passion in our young learners?
Set aside time for exploration
Exploration is the key to figuring out your passion. If you don’t have a chance to explore thoroughly, it will be hard to determine a passion from a fleeting moment of interest. Set aside time for both you and your child to explore your passions. Show your child the joys or exploring a variety of things. It’s okay if your passions are different.
Tip: If your child is engaged in a project (building with legos, doing art, make believe etc.) make sure you give them time to explore, acknowledging their interest. Let go of what you think their passion should be and really let them explore for themself.
Pick and choose your mess battles
Help your child find their passion by accepting some messes. Find the balance between crushing their creativity (because their ideas are too messy) and living in chaos beyond your sanity point. It may be hard at first but I believe, it is possible to find balance, even in and ADHD home. St a few simple boundaries, then, let them explore within those limits.
Tip: Set aside an area of your house designated only for messy projects or, if you live in a small space which is mostly shared, consider a messy time (each day, or week). Encourage your kids to help clean up their messes but remember not to kill their creative drive in the process!
Ask the right questions
Questions are both wonderful and soul crushing. They are both inspirational and annoying. Asking thought provoking questions can get your child thinking in new and exciting ways. Just be mindful not to ask too many questions as to overwhelm them.
Tip: Ask your child what one questions they had that didn’t get answered that day and how they might might find the answer. What one place would they like to explore? What one activity would they like to try? If they have trouble answering, encourage them to take their time.
Celebrating and acknowledging your accomplishments, no matter how small, will help keep your spirits high and inspire you to keep going on your journey. You and your child(ren) deserve the recognition.
Acknowledge your wins, big or small
Celebrating and acknowledging your accomplishments, no matter how small, will help keep your spirits high and inspire you to keep going on your journey. You and your child(ren) deserve the recognition.
Tip: Share your accomplishment out loud with your children and/or your partner. Shout “We did it!” or “Go me/us!” If a big win, treat yourself to special night of pampering (whatever that is for you.)
Acknowledge your child’s wins, big or small
Noticing and acknowledging your child’s success will not only boost your child’s self confidence, it will also boost yours and help reframe your perception of your child, when the struggle gets tough. (Hey, we all have challenging times!) Make sure the “celebration” matches the effort and it remains an acknowledgement rather than a reward.
Tip: An unexpected special treat, a high-five, a specific verbal acknowledgment of the accomplishment (“I noticed how hard you worked to overcome that challenge. You must feel really proud.”), special one-on-one time with you (child’s choosing of activity), stickers etc., are wonderful ways to acknowledging your child’s hard work.
There is a lot of talk about gratitude and it’s importance in helping us stay positive and appreciate what we have. There are lots of recommendations for a daily gratitude practice but it wasn’t until recently that I understand how to have a successful gratitude practice. The key? FEEL gratitude. Rather than reciting a checklist, really try and feel gratitude in your heart.
Tip: Develop a twice daily gratitude practice. Just prior to falling asleep, feel a gratitude or two in each of the following categories: 1. A general gratitude (such as good food to eat or something about your family); 2. A gratitude about your work or your contribution to life; and 3. A gratitude about yourself. Repeat the same gratitude first thing when you wake, just prior to your busy.
What do you do to create an abundant homeschool life? Is there anything you feel would add value to this list? Comment below or send me a message on my contact page. Together we can change the world. One family at a time.
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