A Comparison of Homeschooling Styles for Kids on the Autism Spectrum


Guest post by Kerry Jones.

It’s one of a homeschooling parent’s favorite questions for each other: “What is your homeschooling style?” If the question is new to you, then you are likely new to homeschooling! Don’t worry, it won’t be long before you are approached with it. And it won’t be long, either, before you have an answer!

When you are homeschooling a child on the spectrum, though, the question takes on a particular importance. While parents of neurotypical kiddos may be able to simply “choose” to be unschoolers, or literature-based homeschoolers, or virtual schoolers, we parents of ASD kiddos have specific considerations to take in. So, let’s look at some of the most popular homeschooling styles out there, and talk about them spectrum parent to spectrum parent, shall we?

A comparison of homeschool methods or styles for kids on the autism spectrum

Homeschooling Styles for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Classical Homeschooling

The classical approach has the worthy overall goal of teaching children to think for themselves. Using the “trivium” model, children move through three main stages of learning: concrete learning, critical learning, and abstract learning. It’s a language-focused, literature-focused homeschooling style that has become increasingly popular in many private schools.



  • it focuses heavily on finding connections between math, science, history, and literature – – something that kids on the spectrum seem to have a natural affinity for

  • with it’s forward-focus, it reminds parents to look to what their child can accomplish instead of what they can’t


  • If you have a child who has difficulty focusing on books or printed materials, this homeschooling style can be especially challenging

  • Most all published classical homeschooling curriculum would need to be overhauled when using with a child on the spectrumChild Reading Outside


Charlotte Mason Homeschooling


This whole-child approach to homeschooling is based on the teachings of 19th century writer and educator Charlotte Mason.
A Charlotte Mason homeschool day might consist of nature walks, journaling, dictation, handicrafts, and reading of living books.



  • While it’s difficult to think of too many pros for this copywork/dictation-heavy style of learning, I’ve definitely read narratives by parents who’ve had success with a “gentle CM” approach

  • CM advises a lesson length of no more than 15 minutes at a stretch for younger learners, which is always good advice when working with children on the spectrum


  • With books and journaling at the center of this style of learning, a child with a disinterest in reading and writing would likely be frustrated with this approach

  • Another key focus of the CM method is narration (telling back in your own words what you just heard or read). Need I say more?


The unschooling, or child-led homeschooling style gets a lot of press time, doesn’t it? As you are probably aware, an unschooler usually has no formal curriculum, but is allowed to learn according to his or her own interests, time-table, and motivation. Does this sound like a recipe for disaster for an ASD child? Let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages to this approach:


  • Children who have finely honed interests can explore those passions unencumbered by the restrictions of a curriculum

  • Can help keep parents focused less on what a child “should be doing by a specific age”, and focused more on the joy of learning


  • Radical unschooling without any schedule or structure can be unsettling to some children on the spectrum

  • Unschooling depends heavily on a child’s inner motivation to explore the outside world, while many children with autism are content to be occupied with their inner world


Online schooling

Virtual Schooling

As more and more states open virtual schools, it has become a popular option – – particularly among new homeschoolers who worry about completely taking their child’s education into their own hands. A virtual school (technically considered a public charter school in most states) offers parents the ability to school a child at home on the computer while still being under the umbrella of the public school system.



  • For new homeschool parents, it can be a good gateway into homeschooling and can relieve some of the stress of full educational responsibility

  • Scheduled and set up like a public school classroom, which can be comforting to some ASD students who are transitioning to schooling at home


  • Curriculum cannot be easily customized to meet individual student needs

  • Much like a public school classroom, scheduled deadlines for work mean less flexibility in amount of work and time required


Eclectic Homeschooling

Eclectic homeschooling is a bit of a “catch all” phrase to describe a style of homeschooling where parents mix and match curriculum and teaching styles to fit each student. They may go to a weekly homeschool cooperative for science, study history with living books, study math using an online curriculum, and integrate notebooking into language arts. This style of homeschool would look different not only in each homeschool, but for each homeschool student.


  • Students receive a completely customized education for their needs and learning style

  • Because of the flexibility of this style, if one approach or curriculum isn’t working, parents simply try something else


  • Requires significant parental time to research and find resources that will work for each student

  • Can be somewhat expensive to purchase materials for each child unless parents seek out free resources



In my experience, I find that all homeschoolers who have a child on the autism spectrum tend to be at least somewhat in the final category of “Eclectic Homeschooler” even if we see ourselves primarily as another style. That’s because no one homeschooling style is going to fit our kids every day and in every situation. Just as we have to be in every other aspect of our life, our approach to homeschooling has to be flexible. The more we force a style that just isn’t working, the more frustrating homeschool becomes for our kids and us.  And the truth is, learning is fun. So the true homeschool style that will work best for you is simple. It’s the one that reminds you how incredibly fortunate you are to be learning together.


Kerry of Secular Homeschooling




Author Bio: Kerry Jones has been homeschooling since 1999, and has authored multiple homeschooling sites including SecularHomeschool.comLetsHomeschoolHighschool.com, and HomeschoolLiterature.com. Her newest pet project is creating a social community for parents homeschooling a child on the autism spectrum on Facebook and Twitter.




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Sculpting the Ideal Homeschooling Space

Sculpting the Ideal Homeschool Space

It can be very hard to homeschool at home – if that makes any sense!


Because distractions ABOUND. A pot that needs to be stirred, a mess that needs to be tidied, toys not far from workbooks, laundry that needs to be done, ringing doorbells,….and a million other demons conspire against our best-laid plans and goals.

It’s every homeschool parent’s dream to have one of those Pinterest-worthy homeschool classrooms with perfectly matching desks, cubbies, towering bookshelves….with natural light, high ceilings, and most of all a neat place to store everything.

Okay, when you are done dreaming I want to talk about 6 things you can do to at least make your un-photogenic homeschool space more ideal.

6 Tips for Sculpting the Ideal Homeschooling Space


1 – Clean Your Kitchen Table

It’s your best, safest bet for a workspace. Remove place-mats, napkin holders, vases, crumbs and sticky spills, everything….get the table totally naked and keep it that way as much as possible.

I highly recommend “math for breakfast” which is my policy of clearing the breakfast dishes and seguing straight into math without their fannies leaving their seats. I say get what for most families is the toughest subject out of the way right off the bat. Everything will coast downhill afterwards. This is also rooted in the persistent reality that it can be very hard for kids AND parents to get math done at nighttime when our daily willpower is spent.

2 – Manage Your Books

As homeschoolers library books can totally take over our abodes. Books are strewn in both of our cars, in everyone’s bedrooms, on the couches, in the den, in the basement, etc.

There has to be a semblance of a system. A centralized pile of to-be-read books and a pile of read-books to be returned.

This won’t totally work of course. Us parents are over-matched against juvenile bibliophilia….but my 2-pile or a 2-bin system will at least provide some organization and may limit your “lost book” library fines a little.

Schedule it in your calendar to check your library account online every Sunday. That’s what I do. Thankfully we can renew books quite easily with a click of the mouse. It may sound crazy but you can even put your kids in charge of doing this too!

3 – Throw Out Art

Not their best work of course and not instantly like Jerry Seinfeld does with his birthday cards….but very, very soon.

Take a digital picture. Take a video of it.

Then liberate your house of most all arts and crafts.

You have a big house and plenty of room?

Well then store it all. Store every single “hand-turkey”, finger painting, and collage. You can certainly take the digital pics and scrap them in a few years or a few decades time – though they might be wilting and faded!

4 – Corral Your PCs

Children may work best splintered off when they are reading. BUT on the computer, I prefer constant surveillance.

I prefer desktop computers to laptops and tablets that may wander off. Bigger screens are waaaaay better but also because mobile devices are tough to manage and tough to monitor.

I’ve always had my PC….right next to my kids’ PCs and while it may be a little distracting to me, I want to do everything I can to control their web surfing.

5 – Workbox It

With younger kids the workbooks, worksheets, manipulatives, and books can easily get out of control. You don’t need to buy any fancy “work box” system. You can certainly make your own. So just Google it. Check out examples on Pinterest.

One of these sets of rolling drawers will burst into your homeschool full of promise….but you’ll soon find out it’s no panacea as your kids will just “not see” one or more of the assignments you meticulously laid out. Or the drawers will become misaligned from cheap construction and child abuse…

Fortunately older kids do have less crap stuff because their books are denser, they learn a lot more online, etc. So there’s a light at the end of the messy tunnel…

6 – Surrender. Move Into the Library

It took me my entire first semester of college to learn this lesson – that I NEEDED to go to the library to get my studying done.

Here in my homeschool we set out for the library almost 5 days per week – and not just to get and return books.

We load up some academic books, Bananagrams, a chess board, worksheets, my laptop, and anything else that’s needed and camp out at our local, and even distant, libraries.

It’s just as relatively productive as the Van Pelt Library was for me at UPenn. Distractions are minimized. Clean surfaces are abundant. And if we go before school gets out the libraries are blissfully silent.

Okay. Even though my kids are 9 and 10 and will be moving out in the blink of an eye….I admit we are still arrogantly trying to sculpt our ideal homeschool space. Watch the video:

And here’s what our space looked like when we lived in a smaller home (a “flat”!) in London:

If you are going to homeschool properly….your house is going to be a mess and no system, no extra room, no nothing is going to prevent it.

I’m OKAY with this trade-off. (My wife is still on the fence!)

Because I know that a clean but EMPTY and QUIET house in a few years is really going to suck.



Dan (14 Posts)

Husband to Inez. Father of John and Christine. Homeschool Coach, Accelerated Math Teacher. Former derivatives trader and future scratch golfer! Follow our learning adventures at HomeschoolDad.com.

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Blue Manor Christian Preschool Curriculum Review + Giveaway


When it comes to homeschooling the early years, I believe a gentle approach is best. Children learn through play and there’s no reason to rush into strict academics too soon.  That being said, I like to have resources on-hand to encourage an early love of reading and to foster the natural eagerness to learn new things during the preschool years. When my youngest daughter asked to “do school” like her sisters, I certainly wasn’t going to tell her no.  “Doing school” to her meant having her own special books and learning activities.

I was sponsored by Blue Manor to review their Christian Preschool Curriculum and am excited to share my experience as well as an awesome giveaway!  All opinions are mine alone.  For more information please read my full disclosure.

Blue Manor Christian Preschool Curriculum offers just that for children ages 2 and up — their own books and comprehensive learning activities geared just for the preschool years.

Blue Manor Preschool Curriculum

Blue Manor Education describes the objective of their preschool curriculum this way:

Our Christian preschool curriculum will not only prepare your children for kindergarten, but will also lay a strong physical, intellectual, and spiritual foundation that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.  The best part is that our lessons require zero preparation and zero teaching experience.  Give your children an elite foundation and be amazed by the ripple effects.

Blue Manor Christian Preschool Curriculum Review & Giveaway

What is included in the Blue Manor Christian Preschool Curriculum?

The Christian Preschool Curriculum eBook Set includes:

  • A Quick Start Guide
  • Learning Schedule
  • Level 1 Certificate
  • Teacher Handbook
  • Responsibility Charts
  • Bible Verse Memory
  • Learn to Draw and Pre-Draw Worksheets
  • 23 Individual Book Titles in a Variety of Categories

Each item can be used in any order.

Quick Start Guide

The Quick Start Guide is a simple how-to as well as an explanation behind the scope of the curriculum.

Learning Schedule

Although you don’t have to complete the books in any certain order, this Learning Schedule can help you keep track of what has been completed as you go. You can see your child’s progress in this calendar format.

Level 1 Certificate

This is a fun printable certificate to help reinforce a child’s sense of accomplishment when they complete the level.

Teacher Handbook

This handbook is full of teaching tips and great suggestions for presenting all of the materials. If you’re looking for an easy-to-follow guide with no guesswork on your part, this is it.

Responsibility Charts

Great tools to start your child on the path of responsibility and accountability. Record tasks and rewards.

Bible Memory Verses

Key verses of the Bible are presented for memorization, along with a system to accomplish this.

Learn to Draw and Pre-Draw Worksheets

These worksheets are designed to help your child learn and practice making the movements with their hands so that they can eventually write their letters and numbers.  Good fine motor activities to develop those handwriting muscles!


The 23 eBooks are grouped together by theme with matching colored covers; however, each book is its own individual unit with learning objectives.

Some of the eBooks included are:

  • Alphabet Letters
  • Animals
  • Drawing and Art (Learn to Draw and Pre-Draw)
  • A Bad Dog (Phonics reader)
  • Basic Anatomy
  • Basic Colors
  • Basic Shapes
  • Bible (6 stories from creation to plan of salvation)
  • Cat and Rat (Phonics reader)
  • Concepts (opposites like old/young, excited/bored, etc. demonstrated with stock photos)
  • Counting and Numbers
  • Electronics
  • Five Senses
  • Food
  • Money Recognition
  • Professions
  • Phonics Reading
  • Pig’s Pen (Phonics reader)
  • Weather
  • Fitness
  • Transportation
  • Crab’s Band (Phonics reader)

My Thoughts

Most of the eBooks (other than the phonics readers) include real photos rather than cartoon drawings. I thought this was especially good for children with special needs (like autism) who need visual cues to understand vocabulary word meanings. It’s particularly helpful in the Professions ebook.

However, I did not like one of the photos in the Fitness ebook depicting an overweight man as a “slob” who overindulges in junk food. I don’t want to perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices and I think there are better ways to communicate that eating junk food is not healthy.

My youngest daughter really enjoyed the phonics readers. She is just beginning the process of learning to read. She enjoyed these books and the “funny drawings” as she called them, especially in Crab’s Band.  We looked at them together on my computer in pdf format.

Remember that these are digital books, so you must either print them, view them on your computer, or read them on a tablet.  I know many would appreciate the benefit of portability this way.  Nothing to get lost or take up space on your bookshelves!


I believe that the Blue Manor Christian Preschool Curriculum is very thorough in its scope and sequence for preschoolers. All basic skills are covered, including early reading phonics.  If you want an open-and-go easy to follow plan for preschool that includes Bible and character lessons, this is definitely a great option. I was impressed with all that was included for a very reasonable price.


Blue Manor Christian Preschool Curriculum


Blue Manor eBook Curriculum Giveaway ($39.99 value)!


Would You Like To Win a Copy For Yourself?

Blue Manor Education has graciously offered a giveaway for one of The Homeschool Post readers to win 1 Curriculum Set of your choice (PreK, Kindergarten, or 1st grade) worth $39.99.

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Sara (91 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.

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