Mastering Homeschooling

For a variety of reasons (some preference based, some due to circumstances) many parents today are choosing to homeschool their ASD child.

Thanks to technology, if you are a parent considering taking the often scary step into not just being Mom or Dad, but also Teacher, then there are websites, apps, and all sorts of tools that can help you. Which is great.

So is homeschooling all great, ALL the time? Hmmmm.....not really.
Just like any educator, every day will not be sunshine and roses. However there's a huge difference between an occasional rough day, and ending each homeschooling lesson sobbing at your kitchen table. Let's avoid that 2nd scenario, when at all possible.

Many of my clients are homeschooled by one or both parents, so I get an upfront view of the difficulties these parents have when it comes to teaching their own children.

This post isn't about answering the question "to homeschool, or not to homeschool", as that's a decision parents should make. But, I do hope to give some helpful tips for making the homeschool process a bit easier and less frustrating.

Moving from Amateur to Master

“Adapt” is now your favorite word
 If you have spent any amount of time inside a Special Education classroom, or speaking with a Special Education teacher, then you should know that Adaptation is the name of the game. Most purchasable curriculum does allow for  customization (some more than others), but if your child is not progressing well with the curriculum/can't keep up, or isn't understanding the material, the beauty of homeschooling is that you can adapt the material to fit the child. I know some parents who don't even teach certain skills/certain subjects because in the grand scheme of things it just isn't functional for their child. When I say "adapt", I mean the materials, the tests/quizzes, the textbooks, the lesson plans, EVERYTHING! What you are teaching should be functional for your child, and presented in a manner they find interesting, and clear to understand. If it isn't, then you have some adapting to do.
Reinforcement is key
 Life is about reinforcement. The quicker you accept that, the easier teaching will become. Using a combination of visual/auditory supports, and tangible rewards, embed frequent, powerful, doses of reinforcement into teaching. Ideally, you want your child to be a willing and compliant learner who enjoys learning, right? Well, the way to get there is by breaking tasks down (see the previous point) and wrapping up demands in a thick layer of reinforcement.
Knowledge is your strongest weapon
 Knowledge of subjects? Nope. I mean knowledge of your child. If you have a teaching background that's great, but many parents who choose to homeschool do not. But you definitely do have knowledge of your child :-) Use what you know about your child (temperament, motivation, personality, etc.) to design instruction. I know of a family where the mom created lesson plans focused around the movie "Zootopia", as that was a special interest for her daughter. So they used "Zootopia" to learn about Use what you know about your own child to your advantage.
“Prompting” & “Teaching” are not synonymous
 See my Prompting post if you are unfamiliar with this word. Here is a common error I see many parents make when homeschooling: child responds incorrectly, parent delivers prompt, child responds incorrectly, parent delivers prompt...repeat 500 times. The problem with confusing a prompt with teaching, is "What is the child learning"?? A prompt is always intended to be lessened, or fully removed, so we can reach independence. If you stop prompting your child, and they suddenly have no idea what to do, then you have been over- prompting. Which will slow down the rate of acquisition (it will take longer for the child to learn).
Masters seek help when they need it!
 The most important tip is not to try and do everything on your own. Educators working for school systems know when to reach out for assistance, and so should educators working around their kitchen table. If your child has significant behavior issues, attention problems, or their academic performance is far below their age (a 7 year old working on Kindergarten level assignments) then you need some professional assistance to design intervention. Reach out to an educator, the support available through the homeschooling curriculum/website, or a qualified BCBA so they can help you learn the best ways to teach your child.


If you aren't already familiar with TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers) it's an awesome site full of resources made by and for educators

"The Value of Homeschooling"

"Homeschooling Your Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder"

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