Good Morning and Happy Monday To You!
Today I want to share my top 10 tips for homeschooling a child with Autism. I have been homeschooling my 9 yr old daughter for almost 3 years. It hasn’t been easy and I have thought about sending her back to public school a few times. I have learned to take a BIG chill pill and carry on. I hope some of these tips help you.
Tip #1: Remember your child may not be on their age level developmentally. They may technically be in 4th grade, but are really on a 1st grade level developmentally. This is where Chloe is. Teach them where they are.
Tip #2: Don’t buy tons of curriculum or workbooks. I did this and there was so much that Chloe didn’t understand or wasn’t ready for. I actually found it easier to go online and print off individual worksheets and activities for her to do.
Tip #3: Know what type of learner you have. Chloe is a visual and auditory learner. She has an amazing memory. I teach her through songs, books, cards and she learns on the site StarFall. There are kids that learn through reading and writing (that’s me). Then there are kinesthetic learners, who learn by doing hands on activites.
Tip #4: SLOW DOWN! Don’t push your child to hard. You will overwhelm them and may throw them into a meltdown. It is hard sometimes for them to tell you they don’t understand or they are tired and just can’t focus. If Chloe wakes up at 1 am and doesn’t go back to sleep I don’t make her work unless she wants to. It is pretty much 100% Unschool for the day. Watch for signs of distress.
Tip #5: Give them lots of breaks. I give Chloe tons of breaks. After completing a task, especially writing, she gets to run off and decompress. You can tell if your child needs a break. Even if you only get 5 minutes of work out of them, its ok. All children work at a different pace. Remember you want them to love learning.
Tip #6: Celebrate the Victories! If your child struggles with reading, writing or even sitting still for 3 minutes…celebrate when they accomplish something. Especially if they have been working on it a long time. Chloe really struggles with sitting down, so every few minutes I tell her “Good job sitting still”. This week she wrote the letter K right for the first time. I was like “Woo Hoo look at that awesome Letter K” She just beamed with pride.
Tip #7: Simplify Your Homeschool. This has been my greatest accomplishment. I use to make homeschooling so hard on myself. I would plan for hours a week and then Chloe wouldn’t do hardly anything I planned. I was frustrated, but then I found a few wonderful YouTube channels and the families followed a very simple homeschool routine. It made a massive difference in how I planned and how I felt, which flowed over to Chloe. If you are a stressed out mom the kids will pick up on it and get stressed too. I learned that Science and Social Studies (required by our state) can easily be taught without a curriculum. We can learn it in everyday life. I will begin sharing more on how I teach Chloe in certain areas very soon.
Tip #8: Build on their interests. If I notice Chloe is scripting or singing about a certain topic I think “How can I teach her more about it”. This week she is really into wanting to sign her letters. So we have been watching Jack Hartman on YouTube. She loves signing her letters. The first of the school year she loved Dinosaurs. We watched movies and played with toy dinosaurs in her sensory bin. I taught her what they eat and how big they were. Its ok to build on what they love. It keeps their attention, believe me.
Tip#9: Always fit those self help/life skills into their day. Yes reading and writing is important, but so is teaching them how to brush their teeth. I work with Chloe by making these skills a part of her daily schedule. She dresses herself, brushes her teeth (with assistance) and we are working on brushing her hair. She helps me around the house a lot more now. It is great to see her blossom in those skills.
Tip #10: Have Fun and Remember They Are Still A Kid. Let them play and sing during the day. Learning is important, but they are only a kid for so long. Some days all we may do is read books or go to the park. Thats ok. Learning is everywhere. Playing is learning. Some days we may not feel well and need a break. It is ok. We have plenty of time to get those hours of learning in. My state requires 180 days of school a year. There are 365 days in a year…..I’m sure we will get it done.
I hope these tips are helpful. It took me a long time to get a grip on my homeschool mom stress. Wasted time. Look at what needs to change and make the changes.