Homeschool or UnSchooling? - Which one for an ADHD Emotional Child?

Hello Parents, I am a solo Mom of one 9 y.o. child. My daughter has had difficulty regulating her emotions on a recurring basis while attending traditional public school. She qualified for an IEP but, that only assists her academically. There is no one at the school to comfort her when she is triggered. I am often called to come to the school to calm her down. Which interrupts my work day. My daughter is very social and sweet most of the time but, her occasional outbursts turn off the classmates so very few are interested in creating a bonding friendship. Her teacher is not experienced in managing an emotionally sensitive student. Since I work mostly from home, I decided to consider homeschooling my daughter. I'm wondering if any parents with similar situation have had great results with homeschooling or un-schooling their ADHD child. Do you know if there is an IEP offered outside of the traditional public schools (for homeschooling families). I would appreciate advice on how best to juggle the schooling and my work (both at home) schedule. How often to include breaks, recess, field trips, meeting other homeschooled kids. Please offer links to un-school and homeschool sites, and/or local groups. Berkeley, Alameda, Oakland  ~Thank you.

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Rather than pull her out if school altogether, I would try to get her diagnosed with an official anxiety disorder, document how the condition is affecting her learning (missed lessons, impaired group work, etc.) and push for accommodations.   Consider seeking an out-of-District transfer if you need to.  And get her a pediatric therapist with a cognitive behavioral approach.  My worry is that she won’t have an opportunity to learn to address her social problems at home with you. I notice that when kids who have been homeschooled for these kinds of reasons return in middle school or high school, they are very out of step and stressed and it’s discouraging for them. They are not used to balancing their own needs and desires with those of others.   But teaching the  academic material will probably get harder for you as she gets older, and puberty will make so much one on one time hard.   And in any case, she needs to be preparing to live in the world.   

An IEP should not only cover academics but behavioral issues as well. It is required that the school address this and not just tell you they don't have the resources for you. I would encourage you to request an evaluation because her emotional regulation challenges are affecting her education and it is on the district to meet her educational needs and this falls under that. The evaluation should give recommendations and you don't have to pick anyone from the list that they give you. You may request your own at their expense. (They would have to pay for whoever they get too, and you want someone who is not going to just say what the district wants them to.)I would also encourage you to go to DREDF's monthly free parent training and they can certainly help you navigate all of this. If you want to talk to me, I have experience in this with my own child who is now 15.


I homeschooled  my daughter first through 5th grade. She’s finishing up 5th grade now. She really needed 1-on-1 emotional support that no school could provide. She needed bonding with me and a low-stress environment. Kids under severe stress cannot learn nor develop social skills. She needed multiple hours a day where she was not triggered. She got that homeschooling. Soon she will be going to “real” school for 6th grade in an expensive but supportive setting. She has tools for calming her nervous system. She understands what she needs and can ask for help. Still, it will be a very challenging transition. 

Although our kids have the right to free education, in my opinion there is no successful model for kids who need regular emotional reassurance and comfort. That’s just not what school IS.

i understand the argument that kids need to learn to get along, to toughen up, to function in a large group setting. However, the unsupervised school setting does NOT foster personal growth and development in sensitive/easily-disregulated kids. It does the opposite. 

We did Harry Potter homeschool class for three years with Mary Ellen Hill in Oakland (Tuesdays 10-2) where L got beautifully-facilitated support sharing, transitioning, playing, and crafting. We joined AOHL Alameda-Oakland Home Learners for our school community of many families learning in as many different ways. Thursday afternoons 12-5 we meet in a different park for social play. Parents (mostly moms) talk, kids do everything. It’s a welcoming group. There are homeschool Charter schools you can enroll in that can implement IEP’s, some better than others. 

My daughter also has therapy twice a week, OT once a week, takes a weekly ballet class. Does Aloha Mind Math class weekly. Depending on your kiddo’s ability, there are so many options for homeschoolers. 

I had no other choice for my daughter. She’s amazing and has grown emotionally so much. She has worked hard to build resilience so she is ready to navigate all-day school.

Endlessly failing socially, emotionally and academically is a terrible Plan! Our culture does not get it yet. I don’t have many answers but if I were to do it over again I would build even more support for L starting even younger. 

I also hired a private teacher to help teach. L was too oppositional to learn from me. It was expensive but just what my daughter needed. 

Good Luck, I’d be happy to talk/meet with you. 

I basically agree with the prior two posters (and I have a fifth grader in public school with ADHD). She should stay in public school (although I suppose you might want to try for a transfer and a fresh start, if you feel like the pros to that outweigh the cons). Over the summer, get some additional/clearer diagnoses in writing from her medical team, and request an IEP meeting RIGHT at the beginning of the school year to discuss how it will be edited and implemented. You should also go to the DREDF training over the summer (as recommended in another post).

Keep in mind the school is not supposed to suggest medication because they are no medical professionals. I however, despite ALSO not being a medical professional, can tell you that Prozac has helped my son manage his emotions, and Adderall seems to be helping the focus during the school day. If you haven't tried medication with your daughter, at her age you can approach it as a partnership with her to help HER manage what's going on and do the best she can. My son knows that chemical imbalance is one of his problems. Is he happy about it? No. But at least he's as informed as a 10 year old can be.

I can't imagine homeschooling my ADHDer, or his younger sister who is difficult/emotional too. The structure and routine of school really seem to help them. Good luck.