Since Colorado schools are closed for the rest of the year, parents across the Denver area are starting to deal with an entirely new challenge: finding ways to keep their kids learning at home. Working with children with autism in an academic setting is challenging, but keeping them focused on their studies at home can be even more difficult. You don’t have to go through it alone. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your unexpected homeschooling experience.
Stick to a Routine
When your child goes to school, they follow a relatively strict schedule. They get up at a set time, get to school at a particular time, and follow a set lesson plan throughout the day. Sure, there are always events that pop up which can change that routine, but it’s more or less predictable for them. Try to mimic this schedule at home. Get your kids up at the same time they normally would. Cover the same subjects in the same general order. Let them take breaks and exercise at their normal times. This will help them make the transition a bit more smoothly and can reduce the risk of meltdowns or unexpected outbursts.
Talk to Your Child’s Teacher
The best way to give your child the help they need while you’re parenting and homeschooling is to speak with their teacher. Find out what they’ve been struggling with and what the class is supposed to be covering at that time. Remember, when teachers are working with children with autism, they see a different side than you do. They’ll be able to identify struggles or pain points more easily and more quickly.
Don’t Rush Them
Kids learn at different paces and if you have several children that you’re trying to homeschool at the same time, it’s tempting to try to keep them all moving along at the same pace. Ask any teacher and they’ll tell you that sometimes, it’s not an option. If you find that your child with ASD is struggling with a concept or topic, don’t rush them to keep them on track. If you absolutely have to move on to a different subject, let them know that it’s okay and you’ll keep working at that concept the following day.
Use Visual Cues
Teachers always have an abundance of visual cues they incorporate into their lesson plans. This benefits everyone in their class, whether they’re on the autism spectrum or not. Try to find ways to incorporate visual cues in your homeschooling lessons. It can be something as simple as writing out a color-coded schedule so your child can keep track of what they’re supposed to do. Let your child guide you in what they need and try to mimic the same things their teachers provide them with when possible.
It’s Okay to Feel Frustrated
It’s normal for Denver parents working with children with autism on schoolwork and academics to feel frustrated. You’re doing double-duty as a parent and an educator. You don’t have to feel alone. If you find yourself struggling, reach out for help.