Homeschooling ADHD: 9 Active Learning Hacks For Easier Days

active lessons adhd behavior history math reading science Oct 09, 2023
homeschool mom and son cooking together

Are you homeschooling a very active child and having hard days? Read on to learn how to make your homeschool days easier and more enjoyable.🥰️

Psalm 98:4 (HCSB) "Shout to the Lord, all the earth; be jubilant, shout for joy, and sing."

When I first started homeschooling, I'm not gonna lie... the days were not very fun. (You can read my prior blog article on the story of my active son and how we started homeschooling in the first place: ADHD and Homeschooling: 6 Easy Tips for Planning Your Days) We pulled our son out of public school after 2nd grade because it was just not working out -- he was not learning much and was always in trouble. I had been a public school teacher and knew how to teach, so we were going to bring the boy home and homeschool. Simple, right? We were just going to do school at home -- easy peasy. My son would just whip through his lessons and everything would be a piece of cake now that I was there to help him and he was no longer in traditional school. We would just set up school at home and we would be done with lessons by lunch. Ha! Not so! Home is NOT school. Home is home, and no one (including my spirited child) wanted to have an institutionalized flow to his day, which I had erroneously designed and placed on him.  He was exuberant. Animated. Talkative. Lively. Passionate. All of the reasons he got in so much trouble during the day in a regular school.  So why would I think that bringing a traditional school structure into our home would work? I hadn't really considered any other way.  After many failed months, I stopped trying to cram him into the school "box" and changed our plan.  It took some tweaking, but I learned to loosened up, follow his lead, and sneakily integrate learning into fun activities that we could do all the time, where he was able to move around.  These strategies made all the difference in the quality of our days and the depth of our relationship, and so we want to share these tips with you, in hopes it will make your days more enjoyable as well. 


My boy using his Florida  field guide to identify animals on our morning bike ride.


How to sneak active learning activities into your homeschool plans:

Active Learning Hack No. 1: Utilize YouTube captions to integrate reading.

As homeschoolers, we watched many YouTube educational shows for several of our subjects.  We also watched it frequently to listen to music and have brain-break dance parties.  By turning on the closed caption option, you can bring reading easily into your homeschool day, without actually sitting down and formally reading a book. (Yes, we still formally read books, but this is just a way to sneak in extra practice!) This hack is especially effective if you watch the same songs over and over (if your kids have favorites).  They will see the same words repeatedly and learn how to read and spell the words they see on the screen.

Active Learning Hack No. 2: Cook together.

Cooking is such a fun activity that always ends with a finished yummy product, which can be very motivating for reluctant learners!  Cooking teaches SO many skills. First and foremost, cooking requires reading. We know that many times we have to read and reread the directions to make sure we have followed the steps in the recipe and haven't skipped anything -- this promotes reading and rereading for comprehension and fluency. Cooking also requires numerous math and science concepts such as measuring, doubling, halving, temperature, time, and chemistry. It also requires precision, which is a good skill to be learned, especially by kids who usually have a hard time with self control.  Cooking also requires extensive problem solving when thinking through how to execute the tasks correctly to end up with a desired finished product.

Active Learning Hack No. 3: Take advantage of trampolines and jump roping to help learning stick.

We talk of this tip extensively and frequently because we spent many, many hours jumping on our trampoline while spelling sight words, rattling off multiplication facts, shouting out Bible verses we had memorized, counting by 7's, and so forth. The use of jumping while recalling facts is a wonderful break from the paper pencil way of working and it engages the whole body to wake up the brain (plus wears out the kid so they can find calm in the next part of the homeschool day!) .We had a large outdoor trampoline, as well as a smaller indoor trampoline we would use several times a day.  If you don't have access to these, you can also use a jump rope or pogo stick to accomplish the same outcome.

Active Learning Hack No. 4: Allow your child to use blocks and Legos for learning various concepts.

There are so many ways to use blocks and Legos in learning.  Most of the time, we used them at reading and listening time during literature or history.  My kids built quietly while listening to stories to keep their hands busy and their minds awake.  Legos and blocks can also be used as a response to learning.  For example, your child can design a scene for a story they are reading.  These tools can also be used for many kinds of math activities, but one favorite way for addition is to assign numerical values to colored blocks and have your child add up the totals of their creation (for example, their butterfly creation made up of 12 blocks with various values assigned to each color might have a total value of 48).  An extension to this activity would be to do the opposite -- give your child a larger number, and have them create a design where the total of the blocks equals the larger number. There are many, many uses for these! 

Active Learning Hack No. 5: Use tools like field guides, compasses, and maps on your park trips.

If you are like us, we were at the park several days a week.  By using science and map tools, you can integrate these subjects right into your weekly trips to the park.  My kids loved identifying plants and animals during our park trips using their Florida Field Guides we got on Amazon (you can buy them specific to your geographic area.) You can also use compasses and maps to talk about cardinal directions, aerial views, etc. One activity that integrates many of these concepts is Geocaching -- read more here in our blog post "An Adventurous Twist: 3 Reasons to Add Geocaching to Your Homeschool Nature Study."

Active Learning Hack No. 6: Watch movies to learn story elements.

Reading is so, so important, but did you know you can use movies to teach elements of a story such as plot, characters, setting, point of view, etc. You can talk about all of these in the context of a movie (don't forget the popcorn), plus have your child do additional activities such as retelling the story to dad at dinner time, summarize, make up alternative endings and many more activities that you would normally do with a book.  It's a way to switch up the learning and have fun with literature concepts.

Active Learning Hack No. 7: Interview family members to learn about history.

Have your kids learned history through talking with friends and family?  You don't always have to learn about history from a book. Take the opportunity when it's appropriate to help your child learn history through using real people and their recollection of events.  Call, FaceTime, or meet up in person over dinner for the interview. Help your child come up with appropriate questions they can ask to learn about historical events and the individual's point of view during the time period.  This activity is a fun way to helps with conversation skills, manners, and LISTENING, which is often a challenge for very active kiddos.

Active Learning Hack No. 8: Play card games, board games, and fun activities to teach skills.

Why do a worksheet when you can make it into a game?  Many games teach taking turns, sportsmanship, and problem solving strategies, in addition to the concepts being practiced during the game. Favorite popular reading games for homeschoolers are Boggle, Scrabble, and Bananagrams.  Another reading "game" my kids loved to play to learn how words work is Patricia Cunningham's Making Words activities.  For math, games like War (the card game), adding with dice, and Dominoes can be used as an alternative to practice sheets.  Many fun and cheap learning games that align with your child's learning level can also be found on Teachers Pay Teachers and can be easily downloaded.

Active Learning Hack No. 9: Utilize audiobooks.

We are saving the best for last -- audiobooks!  We snuck in many hours of reading with the use of audiobooks.  Whether it was in the car or while we were eating lunch, we listened to many books while we multitasked and it gave me a break!  Listening to books helps with listening comprehension and vocabulary and it's just plain FUN.  We had many enjoyable hours of getting caught up in the sense of a story while we were flying down the road on the way to an activity or munching on our turkey sandwiches.  It's a fantastic way to create bonds and memories with your kids and to teach a genuine love of reading.


We hope these homeschool tips encourage you, homeschool mom, and show you that there are many ways to integrate movement and active learning into your homeschool days.  It requires using your child's strength (energy!) and a little thinking outside of the box so that you and your kids can have easier, more enjoyable days.

If you like this article, be sure to check out our other blog posts that are related:

How To Easily Add PE To Your Homeschool Plans

Homeschool Hacks: Tips to Tame Behavior

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