Are you considering homeschooling a child and wondering how to create an autism homeschool schedule? Are you intimidated because it seems that there is so much to learn and you wonder where you should start?
Some good news is that there are more and more autism homeschool resources available for a quality home education that meet your child where they are academically and developmentally. Homeschooling doesn’t have to be intimidating or scary, and you definitely do not have to feel alone and/or lost.
In some cases, the decision to homeschool children with autism can be what helps the child the most because they are able to get the help and support they need that may not have been available in public schools. That is, as long as the parents are connected to resources and programs for their special needs children.
It is my opinion as a homeschool mom that children with autism are typically better able to work at their own pace at home. As long as parents figure out their child’s learning style, and are able to find quality educational activities and other resources for their homeschool program, there can be an ebb and flow to the homeschool day.
In this article, I will draw upon some of my experience to help parents learn where to start when creating an autism homeschool schedule. It is important to note that Autism Parenting Magazine is not endorsing or sponsored by any of the resources listed in this article.
Can my child with autism learn what they need to at home?
The short answer is yes, most children with autism that are homeschooled learn what they need to at home. As long as the parents are able to check out credible homeschooling curriculum options and choose the best option that matches their child’s strengths and piques their interests.
I have found that interest led learning has been the best way for my child with autism to learn because the motivation is there to absorb as much information as possible about whatever we have chosen to learn about. We are also able to come up with and schedule an entire day that we can keep consistent.
If I had a piece of advice when it comes to creating a homeschool schedule, it would be to keep trying and tweaking lessons and activities until you find an even flow throughout your day. Once you find your personal groove, then you can start adding the elements for your homeschool day.
Do schedules really work when homeschooling a child with autism spectrum disorder?
To say that a schedule would help all children with autism wouldn’t be a fair statement. However, there have been consistencies found in therapies such as Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA therapy, that show children with autism do better with a consistent schedule, most of the time.
There may be instances where individuals do better with a more flexible schedule that allows for changes, but for the most part it would be safe to say that a homeschool schedule could help curb potential behaviors because it would take out the guesswork of what is on the agenda for the day.
In my homeschool we have a schedule we follow and it has helped, when our curriculum options changed, because I found an amazing visual schedule so my children knew what to expect next and could prepare for it. Visual schedules can be an awesome resource and one I would recommend to new homeschool families, or those that are having behavioral issues during lessons.
I have also been able to find some amazing autism homeschool resources, as well as great ideas for sensory processing disorder that include adding sensory play with ideas into our day from sources like Shawna Wingert. I have also found good resources through the Life in the Mundane YouTube channel for homeschool curriculum options and ideas for special needs children, autism homeschool resources, and other homeschool curriculum options.
What does a special needs curriculum require?
The answer to a question like this depends on your local laws and guidelines for homeschooling a child. If you are unaware of your local laws (in the USA) you can find most of them through the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). They also have links to other homeschooling resources, homeschool curriculum, special needs, and autism homeschool resources.
Most states require the core subjects such as language, arts, math, social studies, science, and electives. The great thing about homeschool electives is that they can follow the child’s interests and skills that may need to be worked on like social skills, life skills, and can allow flexibility for daily life therapies the child has like ABA therapy.
It is always a good idea to look and know the local laws for homeschooling a child. It can help prevent misunderstandings, legal matters, and ensure that your child is receiving all possible resources and programs that could benefit their education.
Are there items to look for when checking out a potential homeschooling curriculum?
A good start would be to look out for a curriculum that meets the requirements of where you live, that contains elements that would be appealing to your child such as beautiful pictures and colorful pages, and also taking into account your child’s interests and skills. If you have found a curriculum that meets these requirements, then it could be a great match for your homeschooled child.
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There are homeschool curriculums that allow parents to try it out for a little bit of time, like a month, to see if it is a great fit. If the curriculum you are interested in doesn’t have this option, it is always recommended to check the curriculum out on YouTube or search for curriculum reviews to see what would benefit your child.
Another thing to keep in mind is how you would like to present your homeschool for the year. Will it be exclusively through hands-on activities and books, through the computer, co-op opportunities, or a mixture of all of the above and more options and opportunities?
One thing that has helped me decide how we’re going to enjoy our curriculum from year to year is the fact that I know my children are kinesthetic and auditory learners, meaning that they do best when they have hands-on projects and have always enjoyed me reading to them, discussing, and reciting lessons for the day. I also evaluate and try to stick to the overall plan I’ve had for our homeschool and where I would like to see my children when they reach high school and beyond.
Is homeschooling my child with autism right for us?
If there was a million dollar question in relation to homeschooling a child, it would be a parent questioning whether homeschooling their child is the right decision. That answer may seem difficult and will be dependent on the family and autistic child.
I knew homeschooling my children was the right choice because I have watched them grow, learn, and thrive in our educational environment that we have built together over the last eight years and counting. There have been many changes and updates that we have had to make throughout our homeschool journey.
Having children with special needs and figuring out and creating an education program that would best benefit them has come with challenges, and those have been overcome through studying my children and figuring out what their needs and interests are and following those.
It has also helped because I researched and found their learning styles and how best to include the tools and resources that work alongside the curriculum and activities that best support each of my children. Talking with other homeschool families and what has worked for them, as well as homeschool support groups, and other resources has helped shape our homeschool environment.
The great thing about homeschooling a child with autism is that it doesn’t have to be difficult and can be very affordable. It is always dependent on what curriculum is chosen and what the vision and goals are for the homeschool year.
Communication between parents, caregivers, therapists, and other parents that have homeschooled and are on the homeschool journey can help alleviate some stress parents can feel when deciding whether homeschooling their child is a good idea and right for the family. Also, there are amazing resources, curriculums, and used curriculums available through numerous Facebook Marketplace groups, Ebay, used curriculum sales, and following the preferred curriculum creator through the different social media sites.
Homeschooling a child with autism is very realistic and doable for families with the right homeschool resources, plan, schedule, information, and attitude. The sky is the limit and when our children with special needs receive the support and education they need. It is amazing to witness them soar to new heights and fall in love with learning.
What is a typical day in my homeschool?
In my homeschool we break our schedule into two sections, our morning time and after lunch. I wanted to share what a typical day looks like in my homeschool:
- Morning walk
- Memory verse and recitation
- Arts – these include the poem of the day, art appreciation, and music appreciation
- Story time/book study- we typically pick a book series to focus on for the year and discuss, we are currently reading The Chronicles of Narnia and are planning on working through the Harry Potter series next year.
- Outside time
- English – I have found that since this subject can be a challenge if I wait until after lunch and my children have had their time outside to decompress, they enjoy their English lessons. I also keep lessons shorter and follow how my children are responding to the lesson
- Free reading – this is also time to decompress, especially if there was a challenging English lesson
- Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math (S.T.E.A.M) – there is a different focus each day of the week
- Family walk
- History – my children love history and we tend to use lapbooks or quality videos on Curiosity Stream
- Electives – these can include cooking, leather working, learning Japanese etc. I follow my children’s interests when planning electives for the year
- Life skills – we work on baking, cooking, sewing, or other life skills we have chosen to focus on
- Game time – we pick a board game to end the day with
- Outside time
I make sure and pay attention to my children, how they interact, and how well they seem to be understanding and enjoying the lessons for the day. That was a skill set that took years to develop.
What we focus on in these lessons are generally interest led, unless it’s part of a curriculum and I try to add a hands on or project component to solidify the content to make it easier for my children to understand the lessons. This is just an example of a homeschool schedule that works well for my family.
With all the resources, including YouTube videos from credible homeschool sources, families can find a homeschool schedule that works best for them. I recommend to allow space and flexibility in the beginning and enjoy the journey to homeschooling.