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Talent & Talented | Teaching Children w/ ADHD How To Focus On Education & Talents

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Teaching children with ADHD to focus on education and fostering their talents!

My son's craft table ... He says "that's not mess", so I agree it is not :)

This has been "one of those" weeks ... It was not a bad week; we accomplished a lot, though my husband and I were quite busy with so many family, business and household details. This included the kitchen sink breaking again. Our baby was in a walker splashing in 2 inches of water the last time it happened to us. Fortunately, my hubby got the sink fixed quickly this time and with just a few wet towels to haunt me. All of the "things to do" made me feel like we were a "tag team" ... Hum, saying that must mean that my single mom mindset is finally shifting to a married mindset ... working together being the newer concept here :) Regardless, I'm glad to finally have a moment to write a "real" blog post - opposed to just a few quick lines - to keep in touch with everyone.



Towards the middle of the week, my 12 year old son started getting frustrated with his school work. This is not abnormal for him and is part of the reason why we home school. On the other hand, he is an extremely bright and articulate boy. It is only that the ADHD ... ASD ... ODD gets in the way of progress when he gets in "THAT" mood. He is still doing all right with his grades, though does not have the same enthusiasm for learning as he has had up until now. I feel like he's been worn down by the years of dredging through a traditional educational system. All was well until he went to middle school. I actually moved him from a private school to a middle class public school system because they worked with children that have needs that are similar to his. Unfortunately, we moved to the south and the "rules" changed by Middle School. There were no more small classes, no more personalized lesson plans and classroom aids to assist the teachers, no more caring teachers, more emphasis on passing FCATS then the students learning well, etc.). I decided to home school my son a few years ago, and this is much better for him because our public educational system has no consideration of individuals. The requirements are cut and dry instead of how wonderful school would be if they incorporated better use of technology and the arts for children that are more tactile learners. Not a Waldorf educational system, but with a similar concept. I think THAT would be perfect for kids with ADHD. It upsets me that we have little choice in the matter :(

I am not angry because of what he struggles with daily: focusing, restlessness, hyperactivity and a lot of impulsive Tourette's-Like arguments throughout the day. He is getting better with age despite the teen hormones setting in. What upsets me is that he is capable of doing the school work, though gets caught up in all of his creative projects. I want him to pursue those interests, though not lose sight of the value of education that contributes to the artistic strengths.

The problem is that the ADHD makes it hard to remain focused on academics especially when he is being taught in a way that does not utilize the natural talents. IF TAUGHT THE WAY THEY LEARN (process information), one might think a child w/ ADHD had no problem focusing at all. 

So, when he gets in an educational slump or "too frustrated", as he says, I try to motivate him through different activities. They are unscheduled and not in the home school curriculum, so he gets REALLY excited to hang out with mom this way :) It just so happened that talent and the talented were the motivation this time. It is a subject that is always of interest to him, but has been everywhere that I have been online this week. I can't help but wonder if God is trying to speak to me about it. I know that I need to lift this in prayer, but I am kind of scared to know what it has been about.

Have you ever felt that way? Where you want clarity, though are not sure what "knowing better" will entail? This is where I am at right now ...

Regardless, the point of this blog post is teaching children with ADHD to focus on their education as well as their interests and talents (this applies to kids with related disorders / disabilities, too). In fact, all people need the combination of both in order to see, believe, conceive and achieve their greatness in life. For some reason, my son acts like he does not see that his school work contributes to being the best at his talents / interests, so I am always trying to reach him about it. It is not that huge of an issue at this point because I know that he is being rebellious, but I do not want it to become more of a problem as we are approaching the teen years and school becomes harder ... right now, his viewpoint is similar to his not seeing the importance of cleaning his room. None-the-less, education is obviously important in life.

I turned to YOUTUBE for help with this issue. I do this often with him because YouTube is a site that most pre-teens love to browse. It is filled with talented people that can motivate a youth, though parents still need to supervise at this age because there is a lot of undesirable entertainment there, too. We always come across "raw talent" buried among the millions of videos. We've watched videos that explain his math the way he needs to learn it, as well as children that have taught themselves instruments, clay animation, parkour. There are just tons of tutorials for what he is interested in and this makes education fun for my son with ADHD. I chose what we watched this week, though other times it works out that he takes the lead and shows me his favorites.

We watched this video of a 2 1/2 year old toddler showing that he understood the concepts of physics and chemistry:

We were both impressed and amazed by this toddler's comprehension. This goes above and beyond children who have benefited from Your Baby Can Read and Signing Times; the father obviously works in this field and is training this child to follow in his foot steps. It makes one wonder whether we all have this scientific capability if exposed so young in life.

We also watched the following Jackie Evancho YouTube videos:

Video #1 - Summarizes the first part of her competition.

Video #2 - My favorite of her performances and shares a little about her life.

Video #3 - She returns to sing on America's Got Talent a year after traveling and developing her talent.

Jackie Evancho was the 2010 America's Got Talent 2nd Semi-finals at 10 years old and the top selling classical artist in 2011 at 11 years old. Her Dream With Me album was produced by David Foster and features duets with Barbara Streisand and Susan Boyle. It is beautiful!

What did my son get from watching Jackie Evancho?
The obvious is that she has such a gorgeous voice for such a young girl, but she is also from his hometown. That was cool.

What did I point out?
Well I learned and pointed out a lot by watching this talented child's adventure into stardom, but here are some of the main pointers:

In video #1 she confesses that she practiced a lot for the semi finalists, but in video 2, she explains that she regularly only practices once a day for one hour. This was HUGE for my son. That you can accomplish your goals by just practicing once a day, but I had to explain to him that the reality is that, although she sang for once an hour a day, she had to invest much more time and energy than one hour a day. She had to understand the music she read and sang; she had to learn languages or at least how to pronounce the lyrics correctly in each song; Jackie Evancho also had to learn obedience (to bite her tongue, listen well, follow instructions) and humbleness in order to get that far and accomplish so much towards living her dream. Her home training and academic education was important to her accomplishing her goals.

It is not easy to keep going - be in the spot light - perform on demand, though all of these were necessary for what she wanted to accomplish. I told my son that he has / will have the same requirements in life whether he choose it or not. His education will contribute to more than just the basics (certain subjects permit him to communicate, work and function in life), as well as how to be the best at whatever he does.

Lastly, In explained to my child with ADHD that if he wants to be the best video game player - or - the best skateboarder - or - the best costume designer - or the best props artist - or the best architect OR WHATEVER (these examples are towards my son's interests, but plug anything for your child) ... He better learn to be the best at educating himself in order to accomplish what makes him the best at his interests.

This is much easier said than done ...

It is not as if our educational system teaches our children according to their interests and talents. If they did, more kids would become less bored and detached from their educational process. This is why I like homeschooling so much. It is challenging at times, but there is flexibility even if you use a program that develops the curriculum for you. I think that "the key" for teaching children with ADHD how to focus on their education is to provide them time to focus on their interests and incorporate them into thier individual education plans. Not only does this strengthen their academics, but fosters all developmental areas.

Now, if I could just get the next few years of my son's school subjects into musical composition and the types of video games he likes, I think that would stop the grey hairs from those Tourette's-Like arguments :)

UPDATE - January 16, 2012 - ironically, 60 Minutes featured 13 year old Math prodigy, Jake Barnett, last night. I don't catch this show often, so I was delighted and again, this is another situation of being blatantly exposed to talent as I mentioned above. I am pointing this out because this young man will graduate college by age 14 and enter graduate school thereafter ... he attributes his intellectual talents to autism and is proud to be autistic.

60 Minutes Aired Coverage On Jake Barnett

Behing The Scenes Coverage on Jake Barnett

I suggest that parents of children with Asperger's and ADHD - although different disorders from a similar spectrum - to watch this additional video - ABOVE 2nd VIDEO - and realize that their child's mind is driven by the limbic system which includes memory in cases (yes, even children with ADHD can have this capability, by 2nd son always got As in spelling, so long as he was given the words orally); starts with teaching them how to focus on their education and talents.

In Motherly Love,
Mother Baby Child


SoCal Tess said...

What a fantastic post! I love your blog. I'm a new MBC follower and really look forward to your future posts!

LC Hunt said...

@SoCal Tess - Awe, thank you, Tess :)

Anonymous said...

What an awesome post! I read another post this morning about teaching children using their learning styles. Both really point out the need to individualize education for each student. Our children don't come out of cookie-cutter molds, so why do we teach them all the same way? It's beautiful that you can home school him!

Anonymous said...

I think your boy is very talented and you should keep encouraging him to develop his talents. I am a big fan of the Waldorf system btw and I think some of those principles can be incorporated into regular schools and homeschooling to make it more motivating.
Coming from Spilled Milkshake bloghop

Lea Hunt said...

@Spilled Milkshake - Thank you! This is an argument that parents have had over the years; everything else adapts but the educational system + "No Child Left Behind" places these children in "Support Classes" that are structured to teach at a decreased pace, though same traditional process. It is frustrating because children with ADHD are not "slow" at all ... you know?

Lea Hunt said...

@sillycreatures - Exactly! Why do we see it and the educators do not?

Heather said...

This is great. This is why i am seeking a montessori style learning environment for my son, he is only two and at two knows his whole alphabet, numbers shapes and we are close to learning three letter words. I can already tell he will not take to sitting at a desk listening to a lecture for hours on end. He needs hands on learning. And like you said every child needs different methods to stimulate them intellectually. Great post and despite your son's ADHD and some of the set backs he has, you being able to identify his struggles and show him where he can work on them thru how these other kids are working on their talents is great! I applaud you for this!

Heather From and Mommy Only Has 2 Hands!

Lea Hunt said...

Hey there, @Heather. Thank you for commenting and mentioning the Montessori Educational System. I sent my oldest son to a Christian Montessori schools from k to 5th grade (very small / traditional Montessori structures, though the extended grades) and he did well. They accommodated some choices he made there such as not wanting to take art all of the time - I have no clue why he didn't like art class at that age - and his occasional getting up and playing with blocks before the timer went off. His work was done, though, so I guess that worked in his favor.

Awe, that is so WONDERFUL :) My older boys learned quickly like that, too and I considered K4 but did K5 because of what was recommended for their "maturity" level. I'm not sure if you know, but a lot of Montessori schools offer K4 that goes directly to 1st grade instead of k4, k5 and then 1st grade ...

I hope that our baby Max will know his basics early, too. Did you use any system or have you been teaching him on your own?

Thank you so much:) EXACTLY, Heather. I look at it as if Bill Cosby and so many other successful people can do it, he has no excuse because he is capable.

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