Do you have days where mental fatigue is just too much?
I imagine the beginning of our homeschooling journey is a likely familiar story. I began homeschooling my oldest son at a rambunctious seven years old. Keko has high functioning autism and ADHD. Adjusting to homeschool was a bear of a time! If you are at all familiar with these disorders, you may well understand mental fatigue already. It’s common for children with these disorders to be plagued by mental fatigue daily. Even if your children don’t have such disorders, they may still struggle with occasional mental fatigue. We all do, right? Read on and discover four ways we’ve achieved victory over chronic mental fatigue.
Checklists and timers Reduce Mental Fatigue For Your Special Needs Child
For some kids, having a checklist (or visual schedule) establishes a more comprehensible idea of what sort of work they actually have to complete. Poof – monster in the curriculum closet disappears! It helps them see how much work they’ve completed; strengthening their ability to assess the amount of time that they spend on their work. Over time they will become better at assessing the length of work they have using these tools. If checklists alone aren’t effective for your children, putting an estimated time to complete next each step may help. I always used to pad my time a little bit extra so my son wouldn’t be frustrated if he took longer than expected. Encourage them by saying, “If we stay focused, we will finish by…”
Breaks Reduce Mental Fatigue For Your Special Needs Child
Breaking up work or tasks can also be a way to prevent learning from being as daunting. Break their school into time chunks if that helps: give them mental breaks, movement breaks, and breaks outdoors. Need some ideas? Perform exercises that cross the midline helping the brain re-integrate after getting frazzled. Maybe YouTube videos after every completed worksheet or subject is a quick easy brain break. Love reading? Their daily reading time can easily serve as a break between difficult subjects, or they can also yoga to relax. “Einstein the talking parrot” cheered my son up, motivating him to finish each subject.
Year-round homeschooling can reduce Mental Fatigue For Your Special Needs Child
A sanity saving method we personally put into practice to avoid mental fatigue (for all of us, honestly) is a year-round homeschooling schedule. This type of schedule allows us to have extra days off each week. Some people like to have “school” every weekday but for a much shorter time if that fits your lifestyle better. We still have breaks built in for holidays and such. I find it helpful in preventing the mental fatigue that accompanies returning from a long summer break.
Child-directed learning can reduce Mental Fatigue For Your Special Needs Child
Child directed learning took a while to get comfortable with, however we finally gave it a try with good results. It can be anxiety riddling as a newbie to just throw caution to the wind so to speak; giving up on having a step-by-step, hold-your-hand, and walk-you-through type of curriculum. Remember though, this type of learning isn’t necessarily an all or nothing approach. Try a bit and see if it can lighten your load. I noticed that a curriculum, albeit made for my son’s learning style, may not necessarily work for him. If he’s not connecting with it, it becomes a drudgery for him. Although it’s sometimes more work to fit your lesson planning, child lead learning is sure to keep your child more engaged and focused. Kids invested in their learning experience less mental fatigue.
When these things just aren’t enough…
Finally, here’s a bonus tip: there are some days, that we just need a break. Either their hearts, or ours, are simply not in it. On these days, the idea of school is more than we can take. Fatigue creeps in as a huge mental block and energy drain. Rather than pushing through on these kinds of days, risking dissatisfaction with homeschooling on either side, I opt for what I call “YouTube homeschool days”. I don’t rely on this every other day, but there are several days a year that you’ve just got to do something differently. With the number of amazing videos these days, your children can absorb days and days’ worth of new info.
I hope these tips help you find more success in your homeschool days and keep you from drowning in a list of to-dos. Dealing with a frustrated and overwhelmed child is no fun… but wait! To help, I’ve created a freebie for you that links up directly to 25 of my favorite YouTube options for the hardest of days. Print and post it as a reminder that you have a fallback, or keep it on your desktop as a quick short cut of links.
Praying over your homeschool year,
Wonderful post. I have 3 we homeschool, all with special needs (hearing loss primarily) and one we send to a special class for Deaf/HH kiddos (Kindergarten). He is also on the Autism Spectrum (and something else they haven’t figured out yet). I have every hope to homeschool him in the next year or two, I just found I couldn’t provide for his intensive needs while teaching my 3 older kiddos at the same time. I’m going to save your post to refer back to again when we do bring him home!
That being said, the strategy for scheduling you outline would be awesome (and I’m going to implement them starting tomorrow!) for my 7th and 4th graders who are deaf. They have Cochlear Implants, and use English as their primary language with ASL as support. That being said, they are extremely visual children and both have a strong sense of everything needs to be exactly right or exactly wrong. Giving a black and white (so to speak) schedule would really help them with time management and knowing what is expected of them.
We certainly have YouTube days! Typically when Mama is having a migraine or they had a packed week with appointments or other things that wore them out and they are in a state of Mental fatigue themselves. And often we find videos on topics they enjoy and have interest in.
Thank you! Balancing everyone’s needs and differences can be hard! Our first year homeschooling, I sent my youngest to public Kindergarten. It’s something we had to make a thoughtful and personal decision on! =) I hope this is a great year for you all! <3