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Choosing a Homeschooling Curriculum for a Preschooler with ASD

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Choosing a Homeschooling Curriculum for a Preschooler with ASD

by Jeanne Mifflin

Autism Asperger’s Digest Online Article September 2012

 

One of the first steps in homeschooling any child is determining his educational level. This need not be a point of stress and can be a joy as you and your child explore resources and discover your child’s developmental level. Keeping an open attitude and positive outlook on your child’s abilities and educational level will also help you find and plan the best curriculum for a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Be prepared to adjust the grade and developmental levels to your child’s current functioning and rejoice in where he is right now. (After all, he’s probably worked hard to get there.)

Focus on what he can do and is developmentally ready for as opposed to where he should be as compared with typical peers. If your child has skipped a milestone, keep working on acquiring that skill, but continue to build on what he can do successfully.

Starting at the preschool level, it is relatively easy to find a curriculum you can modify. Be sure to keep in mind your child’s abilities and developmental level, not just his age. If you choose to homeschool a five-year-old with ASD, for example, you may find that working in preschool books (for ages two to four in the neurotypical population) will bring the most success. At this early childhood level, curriculum resources are typically in the form of teacher reference books or parent guides. You can find these resources at a bookstore in the education section and online through educator supply websites or Amazon.com.

If you’d like a more formal approach to preschool homeschooling, you can also research Montessori teaching practices, curriculums, and videos. These have been shown to work especially well with children with ASD and materials are readily available online. You can also make your own Montessori materials and set up a Montessori-like environment inexpensively at home— for example, setting up several “work stations” where children can perform everyday work tasks such as peeling vegetables, washing dishes, watering plants, and some simple self-care (e.g., hair combing, handwashing).

Computer CDs also work well for preschoolers with ASD and can engage and accelerate learning for any child once he learns the basic skills required (e.g., handling the mouse, not over-clicking, navigating the site). Department stores usually carry some of these CDs.

There are also many excellent free online resources that can supplement any curriculum. The following is a list of my favorite online preschool resources:

P.E. Central: Excellent free preschool P.E. teacher lesson plans and much more

Gamequarium: Free preschool theme activities, such as colors and shapes, from many sites

Enchanted Learning: Everything from rhymes and songs to coloring pages—most of it for free

DLTK: Great free arts and crafts

Mrs. Jones Songs for Learning: Free site that makes music learning so much easier!

Starfall: Excellent free site for developing early reading skills

PBS Kids: Lots of free educational games with characters such as Curious George, Sid the Science Guy, The Cat in the Hat, and Elmo

Do2Learn: I particularly appreciate the safety songs, but there are lots of other goodies on this site as well.

These are just some ideas for building a homeschool curriculum for your preschooler. You can also follow a theme-based approach. There are many themes that you can use each day, each week, or throughout the year. The following are some ideas that worked well when I homeschooled my son:

  • Housekeeping (used to teach the words for everything in your home)
  • Health (used to teach how to dress for the weather and make healthy snacks)
  • Colors
  • Shapes
  • Transportation
  • Community
  • Animals
  • Plants
  • Alphabet
  • Numbers

Ideally, each theme will have the following components:

Language Development

  • Picture cards for matching activities
  • Storybook
  • Songs and fingerplays
  • Dress-up outfit (homemade is fine)

Math

  • Puzzles
  • Math (e.g., cooking, counting aloud)
  • Blocks (arranging into structures and shapes)

Small Muscle Development (Fine Motor Skills)

  • Arts and crafts
  • Buttons, knobs, latches
  • Putting tops on containers

Large Muscle Development (Gross Motor Skills)

  • Outside exercise equipment or active games
  • Science (e.g., gardening, cooking)
  • Social Studies (e.g., cultural dances, active games)

Every unit should also conclude with a related field trip to reinforce the concepts you have covered in the unit.

As you begin to build your preschooler’s homeschool curriculum, remember these rules: assess your child’s developmental level honestly and have appropriate expectations, plan and organize your materials, include many different types of activities to make learning fun, and enjoy the adventure of getting to know each other through educational pursuits—you’ll be surprised how rewarding it is!

 

BIO

Jeanne Mifflin began homeschooling to help her son who has autism develop self-reliance and self-control. He learned at an accelerated rate and now successfully attends public middle school at grade level. Jeanne is the author of Achieving Brilliance at Home: How to Teach Your Child Almost Anything, which is available on Amazon. Visit her website at www.JeanneMifflin.com.

 

 


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Comments

  1. Laura Ward says:

    Jeannie, this is good advice for anyone homeschooling a child with ANY sort of learning difference. Maintaining the positive outlook is the hardest (and most crucial) part and requires lots of moral support. Rock on girlfriend you’re doing a fabulous job!

  2. What a wonderful post! I set up a Montessori style preschool room in our large sunroom when I began home schooling. I bought some LARGE bulletin boards from a church school that was closing and built centers where the children be focused on the art, music, home, or counting center. I alternated having only four centers per week because my ASD son would get completely overwhelmed with too many choices. Recently, I was able to visit the Montessori preschool of my grandsons and what lovely memories it brought back. Don’t forget that a “pet” in your home school ‘classroom’ is a great way for preschoolers to understand growth, care, and time. As they watch the tadpoles turn to frogs in a small child’s pool they learn nature as well as patience. Thanks for the delightful memories.

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