Tips for Homeschooling a Highly Sensitive Child
One of my most pinned posts on my personal blog is Raising a Highly Sensitive Child: Tips to Help You Get Through, and I’ve thought a lot about how I am going to homeschool this highly sensitive child.
I am a highly sensitive person and my daughter is also highly sensitive, it has made for some hard moments in the past but knowing about the term and thinking ahead of what I can do to make things easier has made a big difference.
If the term highly sensitive child/person is new to you, it’s a real thing, let me explain.
Highly Sensitive People (HSP’s) and Highly Sensitive Children (HSC’s) are:
- more aware of subtleties
- can be easily overwhelmed by bright lights, strong smells and a lot of noise around them
- have a rich and complex inner life
- are affected by other people’s moods
- and so much more
I first learned about highly sensitive people last year and I quickly read Elaine Aron’s, The Highly Sensitive Child. Let me tell you, this book totally opened my eyes. I felt like I know understood myself and my daughter and it explained so many of our characteristics that I just thought were quirks we needed to get over.
If you think you are an HSP you can take the test here, or if you think your child is highly sensitive you can take that test here.
Every HSC is unique. What may be a major for some HSC’s might not affect another.
I am a highly sensitive person raising a highly sensitive child, some days that means I’m more understanding of her and what she is feeling and some days that means I get frustrated more easily.
Truthfully, I don’t know which would be harder, homeschooling my daughter or having her in school. From what I hear she was very well behaved in school and was able to control her sensitivity to a point but unfortunately as soon as she got home all the emotions came out. And I mean all the emotions. Sure, the days were fairly easy when she was at school but it made the evenings and weekends a lot harder. I’m hoping that homeschooling will help the emotions come out throughout the day and she will have smaller ups and downs instead of always having very intense evenings.
Knowing that my daughter is highly sensitive will definitely affect how we homeschool. I’m hoping some of these tips will be able to help you if you are homeschooling a HSC as well.
TIPS FOR HOMESCHOOLING A
HIGHLY SENSITIVE CHILD
KEEP NOISE TO A MINIMUM
While I do have a preschooler to occupy during school time and he sure can be loud, he is just one kid. Compared to the 20+ other kids that were in Raeca’s kindergarten classroom we should be able to keep the noise level in our house pretty low. This also means we won’t really be playing music while we are working on other subjects which I know some kids can handle but not my HSC (or myself to be honest).
ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME
I am blocking off the mornings for homeschooling and am allowing 3 hours to get done 1.5-2 hours of work. Nothing stresses my HSC out more than feeling like she needs to hurry.
KEEP THE HOMESCHOOL ROOM (& BEDROOM) CLEAN
We will definitely need to clean up as we move from task to task to keep clutter to a minimum. Clutter and too much visual stimulation can be overwhelming. We should probably also get a closet door for our school room.
ACTUALLY HAVE A HOMESCHOOL ROOM
This one is actually a bit of an experiment. Personally, I’d prefer to do our schooling in our living space, mainly the kitchen table and living room, but Raeca really wanted a school room. I don’t know her reasoning for it but I wonder if using the space for one thing will help her focus better. I’ll report back when I find out.
Update: we no longer use a homeschool room and instead have taken a more relaxed approach to our homeschool.
FILTER OUT SCARY CONTENT
If we come across a topic or subject that I notice is a little too intense or scary we will back off and save it for a different time. HSC’s have a complex thought life and can also be worriers. Depending on the child you may be able to talk them through it or you may have to wait until they are older to study that content.
TURN MISTAKES INTO SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL
A really good skill to give your HSC is to figure out ways to make their mistakes into something beautiful. When drawing a person’s face only has room for one eye? Can you make their head turned? How about draw some more hair and pretend the eye is covered up? A word is spelled wrong on a birthday card? How can you turn that backwards b into a butterfly? Find the beauty in the mistakes and you will probably avoid a complete meltdown.
PROVIDE TIME FOR DECISION MAKING
HSP usually need some time to make decisions. Choices can be good but if there are too many they can get overwhelmed, try to limit the choices they have and then give them enough time to make the decision. Pressure to make a choice too quickly can stress them out.
There are some neat parts to having a HSC that I think often go unnoticed and I think it’s important as parents that we recognize the strengths our kids do have. Some common positive qualities of highly sensitive people:
- empathy for others, HSC’s are often very empathetic and compassionate
- they have a keen eye for observation and will often notice and point out what most people would miss
- they are conscientious and usually try to do their very best
- creativity! HSP’s are often teachers, writers, counselors and artists
- a wonderful imagination