Homeschooling the distracted learner??

Today we were no more than five minutes into math lessons when my 7 year-old sensory seeker started mouthing the dominoes we were using for class.

Thankfully I had found a helpful website with tips for teaching these bundles of energy!

Sizzle-Bop! is a web haven "Where Highly Distractible People are Celebrated, Encouraged & Empowered."

Oh yeah, that sounds like what I need!!!! (My son, amazingly similar to hers, likes the sizzle of putting wet stuff on the light bulb, hence the name of the web page.)

Carol, the creator of Sizzle-bop! and related websites offers several tips for teaching the distracted learner. Several of these we have implemented ourselves, but it looks so good to see this validated "in print!"

Yes, my son can hang up-side-down on his ladder swing while listening to our books ("doing two things at once.") Several body parts need to be engaged for his brain to absorb information. See the research on the importance of "fidgeting" I noted earlier!!!

Yes, we try to make every lesson a gross-motor eneavor ("put motion into every activity.") I have to admit, this is getting more challenging with the complexity of the subject matter. But when he was pre-k it was easier with things like matching card games.

I put one half of the cards (e.g., lower case letters) at one end of the room and the other half of the cards (e.g., upper case letters) at the other end. I would send him to pick up a card at one end and run-run-run to the other end to find the matching card. Then he would bring the matches back and start on the next set. He really liked that. It was running with a purpose. He hates-hates-hates activities that don't seem to have a purpose.

Yes, my kids adore their checklists, or their "menus" for the day as my daughter calls them. They love checking off their lists and take such pride in having meaningful work and play laid out before them.

One of the new things I learned from her was the "roadblock" game based on "Games for Learning," by Peggy Kaye. This lets my kid physically crash through a barrier when he overcomes something difficult. She uses matchbox cars for this, but I'm trying to figure out how I can keep a stack of cardboard boxes piled nearby for a full-body crash! And it helps the parent/teacher monitor the frustration level by minimizing the number of crashes to 3 per day before the lesson ends.

And, yay! my low-energy is finally good for something. In my feelings of being a pitiful mother unable to keep up with my son's energy level I find comfort that Carol believes this low-energy style is better for the distracted learner who can be overstimulated by high-power teaching. I'm not entirely sure this is true for my son who craves constant stimulation, but at least it makes me feel better :)

So tomorrow, when it isn't raining, we'll pick up the lesson again but take it outside where we'll bounce the ball to compute the math problems instead of using the dominoes. And we'll be hammering some ferns to make printed t-shirts as we study printmaking and colonial/Native American crafts.

Now if I can just get myself off the fridge to face another day...

Carol is the author of How to Get your Child off the Refrigerator and on to Learning: Homeschooling Highly Distractible, ADHD, or Just Plain Fidgety Kids and
If I'm Diapering a Watermelon, Then Where'd I Leave the Baby: Help for the Highly Distractible Mom.


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