The ABC's of Homeschooling your Neurodiverse Child During the COVID-19 Crisis

March 19, 2020

Look, let’s just be real for a moment.

COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on lives all over the nation. No, COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on lives all over the world.

For most of us, life is radically different than it was a week ago. Schools have closed, groceries are in short supply, and many are facing the loss of income or trying to figure out how to work from home (after suddenly becoming the sole person responsible for their child’s education).

That’s a lot.

So what do you do?

There’s a LOT of information out there on the internet. News outlets, social media, even blog posts….everyone has something to say. The noise can be deafening. The anxiety it brings can be debilitating.

How do you filter out the good information from the bad? How do you decide what to listen to and what to ignore?

Though we don’t have all the answers, we hope to help you when it comes to figuring out the nuts and bolts of beginning to school your child at home.

When it comes to your child’s education, you must remember that their needs differ from that of mainstream society. You know this. You know your child better than anyone else.

So much advice is being given and it can be confusing to try to navigate through and figure out what’s what.

Some are recommending parents adhere to strict schedules from day one ensuring their kids don’t miss even one day of formal instruction.

And others are telling parents to throw any idea of a schedule out the window and just enjoy having their children home.

So what is the answer?

Well, that depends on your child’s temperament and your family’s situation.


Striking a balance

Finding a solid middle ground is the best thing you can do here. That’s not going to look the same for everyone.

One thing we CAN tell you is this. Swinging to one extreme or the other is probably not the right choice. Extreme rigidity or extreme fluidity - either of these is likely going to impact your ADHD/SPD/anxiety/etc. child in a negative way.

There’s a lot of panic happening. And rightly so. This is a scary time for all of us.

Because of that, it’s easy to attempt to control what we can and overcompensate with a strict schedule, knowing that if nothing else, academics are covered.

It’s also easy to throw our hands up and say, “The sky is falling!” and let all semblance of normalcy fall by the wayside.

Don’t. Just don’t.

Trying to stick to an impossible schedule is going to do nothing but bring added stress to an already difficult situation.

And being a little too laissez-faire about the whole thing - too much screen-time, too much junk food, not enough sleep - is going to result in an amped-up child and a frazzled mama.

Stability and consistency are key. Give your day a simple framework built to meet your family’s basic needs. Plan around the important things such as family togetherness, plenty of rest, time outdoors, and balanced meals. The rest will come.

You and your family will find a new normal. You will get through this.


Sample routines

While it’s crucial to prioritize healthy habits during this time of heightened stress, it should be noted that learning doesn’t have to get tossed out the window.

School time can be as simple as playing Monopoly, baking together, snuggling up on the couch with a good book, or taking a nature walk in your own backyard.

A more detailed routine could look something like this.


Example Routine 1 for Younger Children

 8am - wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, morning chores

10am - educational activity/play-based learning (i.e. plant a garden, DIY playdough, board game)

12pm - lunch

1pm - quiet time (i.e. independent reading, listen to audiobook/draw)

3pm - educational activity/play-based learning (i.e. online math game, baking cookies, outdoor play)

5pm - dinner, cleanup, family time

7pm - bath/books/bed by 8pm


Example Routine 2 for Older Children

7am - wake up, eat breakfast

8am - get dressed, morning chores

9am - outdoor play

11am - lunch

12pm - e-learning (i.e. online math game, listen to a history podcast, PBS Kids episode)

1pm - hands-on learning (i.e. arts and crafts, DIY kitchen science, backyard bird watching)

2pm - independent reading time

3pm - free time

5pm - dinner

6pm - family time (i.e. watch a movie together, game night, play catch in the front yard)

8pm - bath/books/bed by 9pm


These are just examples, but you can take the ideas given here and create something that works for your family.

The key is to offer a little bit of structure with a lot of flexibility.


Educational resources

Because it’s necessary to be at home in order to prevent the spread of this virus, there are many online resources to help round out your child’s learning experience. We’ve put together a short list, but a quick search on Google will net you plenty more.

  • Scholastic Learn At Home
  • Mystery Science
  • Outschool
  • Discovery Virtual Field Trips
  • Khan Academy


*Disclaimer: At the time of publication, all of these resources are free to families educating their children at home. Price is subject to change.


Stay tuned for more

This is a rapidly changing situation and we want to assure you that we are here and we are on top of it. We’ll continue to bring you up-to-date resources in the coming days, so keep checking back!



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