How We Homeschool Series will be a periodic blog series on the methods, products, and routines of our daily homeschooling. It is difficult to find help/resources/advice when it comes to homeschooling and autism, so I hope to provide all of that and more! This week's topic, Break down and conquer. How to handle your child who may feel stress with larger texts.
I frequently get asked what methods are best, or what products are best, for homeschooling a child with autism. And the answer is, there isn't just one method or one product that is all inclusive. Over the years, I have found the best thing to do is breakdown and conquer.
Stress is a major actor when it comes to school performance and autism. One major issue I discovered was my son would get very anxious and shut down when I took out the large, county supplied texts. A lot of curriculum sets are made of one large book, that is broken down into chapters-Text books. Often times, children on the autism spectrum are such literal and concrete thinkers that they think they must complete the entire text book at one sitting. By eliminating these large books, I eliminated his stress which greatly improved his performance.
How to do this:
I have a lot of workbooks in PDF format. The Teacher Express side to Scholastic is a great resource for these. They offer periodic "Dollar Deals" sales where you can get PDF books and workbooks for just $1.00, or you can shop anytime. These are great because you can download the book, and then print only the pages you want.
I also use consumable workbooks and materials. We are very blessed here with a close knit homeschool community, and we have used curriculum sales as well as biannual free swaps where we can take in materials we no longer need or want, and "shop" free materials. This is great because I often feel bad for writing in the books!
With these workbooks, I tear out the pages and create packets. This way, he doesn't feel like he has to complete the entire workbook. I make daily packets that he has to do each day. These will have sheets for math, science, social studies, language arts, and reading. He does a packet a day, no matter what. These packets may have a mix-match of topics, so if he shows a great interest in one of the topics we go into detail with it, and study it for the rest of the day/week.
This "method" does demand more time and planning than a boxed set would require, but you'll find your child is much less stressed, and work is completed with a greater amount of ease. In addition to that, my son went from needing near constant prompting to completing his tasks on his own.