Tips To Help With Homeschooling A Child With Developmental Delays

By Danielle Barris, Publisher Sussex NJ Macaroni Kid and Angela Earley, Publisher Princeton-Hamilton Macaroni Kid April 8, 2020

Publisher Note: This article was written by publishers in other cities/towns, but Berkshires Macaroni Kid has added some tips and resources from local parents and agencies.

Are you struggling homeschooling your child with developmental delays? As a mother of a child with ADHD, SPD and ODD and Angela Earley, my fellow publisher, who is the mother of a child with Autism and other medical conditions decided to collaborate on this article together. We both realize the struggles of our new reality of homeschooling our special needs kids and wanted to help our fellow moms and dads who may need this information. We are not therapists nor medical professionals but we are parents of special needs children, and that comes with its own set of hurdles and challenges. Together we have a lot of experience and knowledge of working with our children through the years and we have learned a thing or two that we would like to share with all of you. We are in this together and we want everyone to know that you are not alone.

Some useful tips, tricks, and advice

1. Setting a schedule that works for your child is a good place to start. Routine, routine, routine. One of the things that I have learned is to contact your child's teacher. They are a great resource. Daily Schedule Plus Free Printable

2. Use your phone or kitchen clock for a timer. Whether it's an educational assignment, device time, playtime, etc. You can adjust it to your child's needs. Maybe first start with 45 minutes, if that is too long, cut back to 30 minutes and so on. 

3. Mix it up! Do some enjoyable work that is educational but fun. Slowly build up to tougher tasks. Do some assignments, then some fun then back to assignments.

4. Reach out to a school friend. Maybe Facetime and interaction with a friend will help break up the day. 

5. Get outside! Outside they can learn, be stimulated and burn energy at the same time. That’s a win-win! 

  • Use sidewalk chalk to create a hopscotch
  • Play catch
  • Jump rope
  • Blow bubbles
  • Ride bikes or scooters
  • Go on a scavenger hunt
  • Talk about nature
  • Go on a walk
  • Take a picture and later have a conversation about what you did and saw
  • Water table
  • Kinetic sand
  • Sidewalk chalk

6. Some fun inside ideas that is fun and educational:

  • Obstacle course 
  • Yoga
  • Puzzles
  • Crafting
  • Tickle fight
  • Pillow fight
  • Hide and seek
  • Hot and cold

7. Change scenery. I started doing our home school in my son's playroom at his desk/craft table. I soon found out that this wasn’t the right place for him. I moved it to our kitchen table and bingo! This works much better.

8. Read to your child daily. Kids really love this special time where they get to relax and feel connected to their parents and loved ones.

9. Leave a radio/tv/Alexa on in the background. Background music is helpful as students are more focused and motivated when they are in a good mood, which helps them endure studying for a longer time.

 10. Be consistent. Children with special needs and delays feel safe and have a sense of comfort with a schedule and consistency. It helps them learn to trust that caring adults will provide what they need.

Tips from Berkshire County Parents and Agencies

1. Keep your child on a modified version of his school routine. 

2 Ask your teacher for items from the classroom to use so your child is using familiar materials. 

3. If your child has special services such as counseling, occupational therapy, speech, etc. ask if you can do them virtually through Zoom, telehealth or other online services or provide specific activities for their child that you can do at home together.

4. Get out of the house — Go for long rides in the car, play hide and seek, look for birds and other animals with binoculars or participate in one of the areas social distancing scavenger hunts.

5. Try new activities and practice daily living skills like cooking, making their bed, play a money game, teach them a new game you've never played before etc. 

6. Reach out to other parents who are in a similar situation. Support is key.

7. Utilize the organizations and resources we have in our community like Berkshire County Arc, Community Resources for People with Autism, Berkshire Collaboration — Autism Connections, the Berkshire County Down Syndrome Family Group, the Pediatric Development Center and Pathlight.

Find Commonly Asked Questions and an Autism Resource Guide from the Berkshire County Autism Collaborative HERE.

General Skills to Work On
  • Child's name
  • Birthday
  • Address
  • Mommy's phone number
  • Daddy's phone number
  • 911 in case of an emergency
Online Resources
A Few FREE Educational Websites

Last but certainly not least, we have to remember to take care of ourselves, mom and dad. Whether it be having the other parent take over, go for a long walk, do your nails, binge watch a tv show, a car ride or some meditation. We have to take care of ourselves so this way we can be the best parent for our children. This is only temporary. Remember, everything doesn’t have to be done right now. We have a few more weeks of Social Distancing to get through. We will get back to some normalcy in due time. You got this!