Making the decision to homeschool our daughter was difficult, and for a long time, each day was a struggle.
When I first started homeschooling my daughter, I thought I had to teach her in a particular way, based on our public schools. I would get her up and try to start school promptly at 9 AM. When she would resist, I would tell her to just go get a uniform out of the closet so I could take her to the “big school” where she wouldn’t have any fun and would be forced to sit in a chair and write her own sentences. Yeah… not my finest moment. The guilt trip approach never works either.
It did not take long for me to realize that I had to give up what I thought was best and work more towards what she was willing to do. Forcing her to do things that she didn’t want to do would end in a complete shutdown or worse… a huge tantrum. So, that is when I learned to follow her lead and only insert my new ideas when she was ready, prepared to pull back if I met resistance.
On any given day, we might start school at 9 AM or 10:30 AM or after lunch or when Bill gets home. This might seem quite the opposite of what you would expect since children with Autism often beg for routine. Perhaps it is because she is at the far end of the Spectrum that this works for us. But when I am flexible and follow her cues, school time goes much smoother.
Our environment varies too. If she resists sitting at the table, we might pull out the lap desk and sit on the couch or on the floor. While I try to go where she leads, I also have to be mindful of distractions. So, if we are in the living room, the television is off. If we are at the table, no music can be played in the adjacent rooms.
Now, my flexibility does make it difficult to plan in advance. Recently, I started putting my lessons in manila file folders. I have the folders numbered but they are not dated. Each folder contains one lesson, having a few worksheets with one or two for reading and one or two for math. I can work through as many folders each day as she wants or even stop mid-folder. (I have 145 folders since I am obligated by law to have 145 school days.)