Homeschooling for disabled children: something to think about

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Homeschooling for disabled children: a dad and his daughter with Down Syndrome are painting at home.

Homeschooling for disabled children: something to think about

Homeschooling may have a negative stigma attached, but we'll talk about how it can be an incredibly beneficial solution for some families. It can be difficult for a disabled child within the school system because they are not designed as a catch-all for children. Most are not designed with disabled children in mind. While some are certainly better than others at disability inclusion and accommodations, many are not.

Before we explore homeschooling for disabled children in more detail, we know homeschooling isn't suitable for every family or every disabled child. Sometimes, even with the most motivated parents, homeschooling may simply not be a viable option for a whole variety of reasons. This is why we all need to continue to fight for a school system that provides quality education for everyone.

But, if homeschooling is a viable option, it can give your family freedom. You can plan your disabled child's education around your family's needs and adjust if something arises. Regular school comes with a wide range of social pressures that don't exist when one is educated at home. 

Read more: Why inclusive play matters in my family

One criticism of homeschooling is social isolation, as attending school with other children helps develop children's social skills. Homeschooled children can still have rich lives with other children through extracurricular programs. In a digital world, finding your community and making friends has never been easier.

There can be a lot of prejudice and stigma toward disabled children. That stigma all disappears with a home education system, where a child's specific educational needs are catered to. With a disability sensitive teaching plan, educational needs that are not met in a regular school system are a non-issue. Your child is the only priority, and homeschooling can be highly effective.

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Homeschool curriculum for disabled children

You don't need to have a teacher's degree to build a curriculum for your children (although it doesn't hurt). There are many curricula designed for disabled children. The critical thing for all curricula is that you go at your student's pace. You build the reading, writing, and math skills based on where they are currently at, not based on age or grade. This has the added benefit of separating math and language based on skill, allowing your child to take their time in one or excel in the other as needed. Your kid can become an active learner and gain knowledge through discovery and exploration. You always know your child's environment is safe, supportive, and, best of all, fun.

Laws for homeschooling for disabled children

Be sure you know what the laws are in your state. Homeschooling laws can vary, and they can change frequently. Check out your state's department of education website for more knowledge. I recommend you check it often for any changes. Many great homeschooling groups will give you a lot of advice and support. They may also offer field trips and other extraordinary methods of socialization, which is a beautiful bonus.

To build a curriculum, you'll need to research subjects you're unaware of. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to borrow a book on whatever topic you need to teach. Most books aimed at specific age groups are a wealth of knowledge, are simplified for ease of understanding, and can be pretty comprehensive. Once you understand the topic, you can break it down into specific units and even ask your child what they are interested in learning about. Your homeschooling groups can recommend texts or sites, and your library can be a fantastic resource.

Once you have a curriculum plan, you'll create learning goals. Goals are great; you can adjust and continue striving for them if you miss them. You get to decide what's best for your family regarding schedule and workload, so don't be afraid to pivot as needed. There will be a lot of trial and error early on, but if you trust your process, you will find the magic that works for your child and yourself.

Create a homeschool space that works for your disabled child

A great space will facilitate great learning. It's not only an excellent curriculum that will maximize your child's potential for homeschooling. The goal of this space is to be somewhere inviting, safe, and optimized for learning. It should be somewhere practical, comfortable, and productive. It doesn't need to look like a classroom. 

Depending on your child, the space might actually be far from the classroom design. You will need a flat surface to work on, great lighting, and some comfortable seats. The last thing you want is for either of you to constantly fidget when seated. It might be an idea to have the space near a parent's workspace in case they have questions.

Ideally, you have enough space within your home to dedicate a specific table, or desk, strictly for learning. Something you could leave work spread around and return to without it being disturbed. If the desk has other family needs, try minimizing them and keeping the space clean and uncluttered. You want this desk as conducive to learning as much as possible. Any setup to return to a learning space should be minor. This can be an excellent opportunity to develop good family habits about ensuring the space is set up for its subsequent use each time.

Beyond the desk and your comfortable chairs, you will want to consider storage and supplies. Some homes have an entire room dedicated to teaching, and the supplies are kept there. Others do not. Whatever your setup is, you'll want the supplies easily accessible and nearby. Your children can play a big part in helping you keep these tidy and organized if they can access them with simplicity. Consider a mix of shelving, drawers, and other options to keep organized. You'll want a space for your library, including reference books and your curriculum. Beyond that, you'll want supplies for arts and crafts, space to store works in progress, science tools, and more. This is an excellent opportunity for a do-it-yourself project if you've been looking for one. 

Everything needs a home, and it can be a great idea to create one with your family's needs in mind.

Clutter can be a significant distraction for anyone. Your children's toys, even the educational ones, should have a home that's out of sight when not in use. Your children can build habits in this regard too. Some parents call it "putting the toys to bed." Clutter isn't just visual, either. 

You will want to eliminate noise clutter as well. A television or streaming service in the background is an unnecessary distraction. Once everything has its home, and the distractions are gone, you'll want to ensure the space is aesthetically pleasing. This will change based on the child and their needs. Some kids work best with calming colors, while others are inspired by vibrancy. Perhaps you try a mix of both and create or hang vibrant art on the walls, which you can change seasonally. 

Getting your child involved in designing the space can also help in creating a conducive learning environment. You want your space to remain clean, so ensure you can also clean it easily. Have a trash can at hand and some cleaning supplies nearby for quick use. This way, the room is easy to tidy without much fuss. Don't forget — you're not limited to inside your home. You can also go outside on beautiful days.

Use assistive technology to help with homeschooling

Assistive technology is designed to help your child succeed at what would have been a difficult or even impossible task. This technology is designed to assist in personal or academic growth greatly. Using your child's strengths and interests, good assistive tech works around learning difficulties and disabilities. This can be anything from low-tech, like an organizer, to a full computer that offers speech-to-text. Once you've identified your children's learning difficulties, you can find the equipment best suited to their needs.

Apps can range from free to quite expensive, as can various machines and options for teaching your child. These can seem overwhelming, but there's lots of great information to assist you with the specifics. You want to find a tool that addresses your kids' needs and enhances their strengths. Ideally, it's simple, effective, portable, and easy to incorporate into your children's lives. Beyond that, your child will need to be able and willing to use it. 

You'll want to ensure it's easy to learn how to use, that you're trained and that it's compatible with the tech you already have. You'll want your child to be part of the process when searching for the right assistive technology.

Some organizations will help with funding, should you need it. Most places will let you and your child try the technology before buying it, and you should try it first. 

The ATiA, or Assistive Technology Industry Association, has a thorough funding guide. There are many state programs available, depending on where you live. Needing assistive tech can be daunting, but many options can assist you. Take your time and ask experts for recommendations for both techs within your budget and funding and grant options. You're not alone in this. Many are trying to help.

Benefits of homeschooling disabled children

The first significant benefit of homeschooling is controlling the space your child learns in, which we've discussed above. This can range significantly from child to child and is completely customizable. You get to limit distractions and enable your child to assist and take ownership of the space with you by keeping it tidy and clean. 

Transitioning between activities is another potential point of contention for some disabled children. Transitions can sometimes be confusing, but you can create stimuli that warn your child that one activity is ending, perhaps via a song or a timer. These transition periods can give the brain a break as well.

You get to break down an objective however your child best needs it. You can give them step-by-step instructions and slowly teach them multi-step objectives over time, based on their abilities. You also can use visual, auditory, and kinesthetic cues to help teach, direct focus, and make learning far more engaging and memorable. Ultimately, you're creating opportunities for your child to succeed. You can have your child showcase their strengths regularly, especially when the day is challenging and they need a moral boost. Struggling at a challenge makes anyone emotional. You can ensure your child knows that despite struggling in some areas, they are strong and capable in others — they are successful.

The more your child can interact with and set up the space to suit their needs, the better they will find spaces in adulthood where they can maintain employment. Your lessons and patience at home will foster growth in a way no school system can genuinely provide. Best of all, your space can grow and adapt as your child does. Your curriculum will do the same. Over time, you'll both see the benefits of homeschooling were worth every effort. When you look at how far you and your child have come — after months or years — you'll feel proud of both of you for taking this path.

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Article by
Adriana Lopez

Adriana is a member of "Porch Content Marketing department" and loves sharing tips and advice to make every DIY project as easy and fun as possible. She is passionate about SEO, the outdoors, and photography. Her hobbies are running and reading.


For some parents, homeschooling disabled children is an option to explore. The school system is not designed for disabled children. While some are certainly better than others at accommodating, most are not. Homeschooling may have a negative stigma attached, but it can be an incredibly beneficial solution for some families. | ©natalialeb / Adobe Stock