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8 Tips for Teaching Your Special Needs Child at Home

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

A woman helping a young boy with drawing

As many parents discovered during the pandemic, homeschooling is no easy task.

While this certainly can be true for all families, homeschooling can be even more challenging for parents of children with special needs.

Our kids with special needs have learning and/or behavioral differences that can make it difficult for them to learn in a typical classroom setting. Sometimes the decision to homeschool comes after significant and unresolved difficulties in the traditional school environment.

Some children simply learn better at home. While it may come with its challenges, teaching your child at home can also be extremely rewarding. Because of your child's individual needs, he or she may thrive by learning at home.

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Here are 8 helpful teaching kids with special needs tips that can aid in the overall success for you and your child:

1. Maintain Appropriate Expectations

There is a learning curve for you and your child as you both get used to the homeschooling routine. Modify your teaching style as necessary to promote your child’s success. Recognize that we all have bad days, so expect to accomplish less abstract teaching on those days and opt for fun learning activities that will promote good feelings of accomplishment and self-worth for your child.

2. Have a Structured Schedule, But Be Flexible

A common mistake with homeschooling is trying to make your home learning environment look like a school setting. Remember to embrace the unique learning style for your child. Come up with a workable daily schedule, and find an appropriate amount of work for your child each day to minimize frustration and promote success.

3. Use Visual Learning Tools and Hands-On Activities

Most of us are visual or kinesthetic (hands-on) learners. When teaching your child at home, work to incorporate visual tools like written schedules, pictures, posters, etc. to help solidify information. Plan to also provide many opportunities for your child to ‘learn by doing’ with various manipulatives to practice new skills that are being taught.

4. Alternate Mental and Physical Activities

Allow your child to take frequent breaks between lessons, with opportunities to get up from the desk or table to move around. Try to promote physical movement whether games or exercises in between more difficult thinking tasks like math and other subjects that require full brain power. Giving your child a chance to burn off some steam will help them to regroup and focus better.

5. Remove Unneeded Stimulation from the Environment

Pay attention to the atmosphere in which you are expecting your child to learn. Ensure that there are appropriate levels of lighting, sound, room temperature, etc. so that your child will have an optimal opportunity to perform well. Reduce unnecessary distractions in the learning environment to improve concentration and learning outcomes.

6. Use Your Child’s Favorite Topics in Your Lessons

Your child will be more interested in learning and will likely be better able to comprehend presented information when you add in familiar favorites for them. Identify his or her favorite topics/themes to incorporate into daily lessons to keep learning fun and engaging.

7. Choose an Eclectic Curriculum

Children with special needs often do better when the curriculum is hand-picked, meaning an eclectic style of teaching and materials are used. Try to use multiple resources that are developmentally appropriate for your child. By piecing together an eclectic curriculum, you are likely to find what works best for your child, and you can add and change resources as needed.

We had good success with these activity books by Darlene Mannix. This one focuses on social skills and this one addresses life skills. These are primary level activity books, but she also has secondary level books on these topics.

8. Take Care of You

Being with the kids all day means that you don’t get much down time. It’s important to take time out for yourself to recharge your batteries, even if it’s a cup of tea for 5 minutes. Align yourself with other parents who will understand what you are going through, as they will be able to offer valuable support. There are various local and national home school information and education groups for families, so explore your resources and find what works best for you.

It can be a lot to take on homeschooling as an additional part of parenting. While teaching your child at home certainly comes with its challenges, the rewards for both you and your child can be well worth the time and effort you put forth.

Best wishes on your journey,


A father and his daughter playing with building brick toys

Visit the HealthSmart! Kids Blog for more helpful parent articles and information.

All blog content shared through HealthSmart! Kids is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as medical advice. Always talk with your qualified health care provider for managing your health care needs.

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