6. Use your child’s interest or compulsive tendencies as educational tools.

My daughter with Down syndrome loves to shuffle cards repetitively on a daily basis. She rarely goes anywhere without them. So, we use them in her education. She has trivia cards that we use for reading and playing cards that we use for number order, number recognition, sequential counting, addition, and subtraction. She loves it because she is getting to use her favorite things while she is doing school.

7. Siblings or other homeschoolers can encourage and help your child with his or her schoolwork.

Siblings are fantastic teachers for your child with special needs. They are fantastic motivators. When your special needs child sees a sibling learning to write in cursive, you may very well hear these words from your special needs child: “I want to learn how to write like that.” You might find yourself teaching your special needs child something you never thought possible. If you don’t have siblings, then you can recruit a fellow homeschooler to spend time with him or her.

8. Personalize self-help and life skills to meet your child’s specific needs.

Each child with special needs has very different needs. If your special needs child is at home, you can identify his or her needs and discern what he or she needs help with to grow up to be as self-sufficient as possible as an adult. If this means that you dedicate an entire school year to teaching him or her how to feed himself or herself with a spoon or how to choose the appropriate clothing to wear for the weather outside, then that should be a part of his or her education that is just as important as math and reading. Children with special needs do have to work harder to accomplish tasks, with lots of repetition and positive reinforcement, and this holds true for self-help and life skills.

9. Teaching morals, values, and manners is also important for children with special needs.

Homeschooling your children gives you an opportunity not only to verbally teach them your family’s morals, values, and manners but also to show them by your example. Just because your child has special needs doesn’t mean that you can’t teach him or her these things too. You want him or her to have every opportunity that life can offer, just like anyone else. If we hold back on teaching our special needs children how to be respectable people in life, then we are selling them short. The instruction might have to be broken down into smaller or simpler lessons, but it can be done.

10. You can share all of the different joys, excitement, and struggles that you and your child may encounter during his education.

Teaching a child with special needs can be rewarding and yet heartbreaking. Special needs children have to work harder at school and life. There is nothing more rewarding than to see your child achieve or comprehend something that he or she has been working on for weeks, months, and possibly even years. To see that joy and excitement after such a struggle is priceless, and with them at home you are right there to share it with them. You get to see the tears of joy and struggle and even shed some yourself.

As a parent of a special needs child, I feel that we have been chosen by God to raise these precious special children. If He has laid it on your heart to home educate them, then He will be there to help guide you through the amazing journey. It may not always be easy, but with much prayer and patience it can be done.

Published on March 4, 2009


Amanda Fuller and her husband Billy have been homeschooling their two children, the oldest of which has Down syndrome, for seven years. Amanda enjoys spending time with her family and has a newfound love for gardening. For the last ten years, she also has been a support parent for other parents of children with special needs. The Fuller family lives in western North Carolina.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC
This article originally appeared in the summer 2008 issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Reprinted with permission from the publisher.