Students with ADHD have distinctive needs that traditional schooling can’t always meet. Some parents might feel they don’t have viable school options for students with ADHD, but the reality is they have an excellent choice. The benefits of online school for students with ADHD include flexibility, personalized learning and the use of technology to capture a child’s imagination. Parents who choose online school for ADHD can find themselves on a new educational journey that helps their child flourish.
Differentiating Between Traditional and Online Schooling
Online schooling doesn’t change what children learn, but it is revolutionizing how. The traditional classroom takes a group approach to delivering learning, expecting students and families to conform to its schedules, timelines and priorities.
Online schooling leverages technology to create a customized learning experience for each student, and parents become partners in education. The difference can be life-changing. Families wondering if there’s a special school for students with ADHD should consider online learning, which offers:
- Self-paced learning: Children with ADHD live according to timelines that are theirs alone. Traditional schooling rarely provides children with ADHD the time to refocus and absorb their lessons. In online school, children can pause, think about new concepts and reset before for the next learning experience.
- A safe environment: For children with ADHD, the school environment isn’t conducive to success. Bright lights and blaring sounds create constant distractions. Bullies and peer pressure shift your child’s attention away from academics. In online learning, families set the tone in their own homes, creating a safe atmosphere where education is top priority.
- Student-directed learning: Virtual learning offers immediate answers to questions. Children can nurture their curiosity by posing a query, processing the answers and presenting their conclusions to teachers and classmates for comment. Children are enthusiastic while they dig for answers and get instantaneous feedback. That kind of rapid-response learning puts a priority on critical thinking over rote memorization.
- Flexible scheduling: There’s lots going on in busy households — kids’ activities, work, travel, worship, doctor visits — but traditional schools demand that families spin around their orbit. With virtual learning, families design the school day to fit their lifestyles. When children have ADHD, flexibility also provides the time for administering medications on a regular schedule that’s best for the child — not the school.
Pennsylvania cyber charter schools are tuition-free public schools, authorized to operate by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Families can be assured that children are taught a rich, standards-based curriculum by state-certified, background-checked teachers — but through innovative methods that use technology to personalize learning and make it meaningful for students of all abilities.
Creating the Ideal Learning Environment
Where children learn makes a difference in how they learn. Children with ADHD, in particular, are sensitive to many cues and signals that can focus their attention — or distract them. Classroom environments can have a big impact on the productivity and success of a student with ADHD.
That’s true with online learning, too, but there’s a key difference. Online learning allows parents to control the school environment in ways that aren’t possible with a traditional classroom.
Consider these tips for creating the ideal at-home learning environment for students with ADHD.
- Customize the schedule: In traditional classrooms, teachers dictate break times, but kids with ADHD follow their own internal cues on when to stand up, sit down or just run around the room. Schedule learning sessions when your child is most attentive during the day, and plan breaks when they usually need to let loose or take their medications.
- Take movement moments: Frequent opportunities for movement don’t just let your child blow off steam. They also provide physical activity that improves cognitive ability and helps your child focus when it’s time to return to lessons.
- Eliminate distractions: Accommodate your child’s sensitivities by adjusting light levels and buying noise-canceling headphones.
- Add flexible seating: Who says learners have to sit on a chair all day? Give your child with ADHD options to stand, lie on the floor, sit on a stability ball or take any posture that’s comfortable and promotes focus. Children with that kind of autonomy are likelier to stay focused and be more willing to complete their tasks.
- Create structure and routines: A day spent in a well-organized space, with expectations clearly laid out, helps your child focus on schoolwork.
- Set consistent rules: Work with your child’s teacher to establish agreed-on rules and behavioral limits.
- Set daily learning goals: A clear, simple learning goal helps your child understand why they’re learning that day’s lesson and encourages them to strive for the satisfaction of accomplishing something new.
- Check in with teachers regularly: Schedule a weekly meeting to review your child’s progress and catch small problems before they become big ones. Share your thoughts and ideas, because you know your child best. Your suggestions can help the teacher adjust lesson plans and keep your child from falling behind.
Working With Different Learning Styles
Every child learns differently. Educators have long recognized that old-style classroom lectures don’t capture the attention of most students, and yet many traditional schools cling to that outmoded, one-size-fit-all approach to education.
All children, and especially those with ADHD, are likelier to thrive when their school recognizes their unique learning styles. Parents of online learners are more effective as educational partners when they recognize their child’s learning style (or styles) and incorporate it into the school day.
Start the process by examining your child’s tendencies and deciding how to shape lessons that capture their attention.
- Visual: Visual learners like to see and observe. They understand the information behind pictures, diagrams and written directions. Often, they are doodlers, list makers or note takers. They are more engaged in learning when they are asked to draw pictures and diagrams, or doodle their impression of the lesson being taught. Visual learners might need a bit more time to process information.
- Auditory: Auditory learners respond to sound. They would rather hear a lecture than read notes. Often, they reinforce new ideas by speaking them out loud or repeating what the teacher said. In class, auditory learners can’t stay quiet for long, so give them opportunities to repeat new concepts or answer questions. Videos, music and group discussions with classmates reinforce learning.
- Kinesthetic: Kinesthetic learners are also called tactile learners because they like to learn by doing and feeling. They often struggle to sit still, but they can be excellent athletes or dancers. Frequent breaks give them the physical movement they crave. In the course of the school day, you can ask them to act out a lesson or scene from a book. They can be encouraged to move around while they’re trying to memorize facts and figures. Kinesthetic learners often need frequent breaks when they’re studying.
- Verbal: These reading/writing learners overlap with visual learners, but it’s the written word that really grabs their attention. They express themselves and new knowledge through writing, reading, looking up words in the dictionary and searching the internet to find answers to all their questions. For these learners, it’s OK to rely on old-school education. Assign essays, research and book readings, and provide opportunities that let them write down their thoughts and ideas. Give them plenty of time to absorb new information.
Unique learning styles are the core elements of personalized education plans. Customized, student-driven learning uses learning styles as a tool to help children build understanding and be enthusiastic about what each school day will bring.
CCA Personalizing Learning for Students With ADHD
CCA uses the power of technology and the skills of state-certified teachers to deliver learning personalized to the needs of each student. The CCA curriculum and lessons acknowledge each child’s learning styles, for an experience customized to the child’s enthusiasms, interests, strengths and challenges.
Here’s how CCA’s personalized learning translates into a specialized education for your child with ADHD.
- Feedback and encouragement: In a traditional classroom, feedback usually has to wait until a paper comes back with a grade, and the fear of failure or ridicule stifles children from trying anything new. Personalized learning delivers instantaneous feedback and provides a safe space for airing new thoughts or even making mistakes on the way to learning critical thinking and imaginative problem-solving.
- Personalized learning path: What makes your child excited? Is it dinosaurs? Ballet dancers? Sports? Digging for rocks? Traditional schools limit the time available for your child to pursue a passion. The flexibility of online learning, combined with personalized education, gives your child the time to explore a wide world of learning.
- Career pathways: Remember asking in school, “Why am I learning this?” CCA answers that question with career planning. It starts with the exploration of exciting fields in the elementary years and then zeros in on academic planning and internships for hands-on experience as children enter the middle and high school years. By the time they graduate, CCA students are ready for what’s next, whether that’s college, career training, the workforce or military service.
- Special education: Online learning can be especially suited for children with special needs, including those with ADHD. Our IEPs are based on the personalized learning model, crafted to accommodate the student’s unique talents, interests and goals. An innovative approach we call CCA Achieve keeps special education students on track through grade-level instruction while providing supports to fill in academic gaps from previous grades.
Learn More About Commonwealth Charter Academy
CCA sees the potential in your child. ADHD doesn’t put limits on their chances for success. CCA harnesses technology to unleash your child’s creative mind and unique talents, while instilling the discipline to make progress and achieve goals. Customized education holds the key to personal growth and fulfillment. Contact us today to learn more about CCA’s personalized learning programs for students with ADHD.