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A Real Life Look At Curriculum For Children With Special Needs

I am sharing a look at curriculum for children with special needs, using our real life 2019 learning plan.

This is the time of year when all the family curriculum posts are circulating.

I love reading them – I have since we began homeschooling. It’s my favorite – being able to sneak a peek inside another mom’s home and learning.

But if I am being honest, those first few years also left me feeling a little sad and unsure. I was reading all about families that did not have our needs, our therapy commitments and our learning differences.

We say every family is different and it’s true, for all of us. When your child has special needs however, reading typical homeschool posts this time of year can make the differences seem large and overwhelming.

This is a real life look at curriculum for children with special needs. 

curriculum for children with special needs

When I made the decision to include special needs homeschooling as part of the discussion here on Not The Former Things, I also made the decision to share all the same types of typical homeschool posts, but through the lens of special needs motherhood. This includes day in the life’s. It includes snapshots of learning activities, modified and accommodated to my children’s learning differences.

And every year, it also includes a look at our choices for curriculum.

A look At Curriculum For Children With Special Needs

Our 2019 Homeschool Curriculum Choices

In the past, I have created two posts, one for each of my children, because they tend to be so amazingly different from one another. Now that my youngest is 13 however, I am finding that we are beginning to do a lot more together. 

With this in mind, this year I am simply sharing our choices by subject. Please note that my oldest is still participating in a part-time hybrid program at a local private school, so a portion of his learning is independent of this list. 

Look At Curriculum For Children With Special Needs

I am including links to as much as I can, in an attempt to make it easy for you to explore different options. Please know, some are affiliate links.

History and Geography

Because we employ a strength based, interest led approach, history and geography are the foundation of our school year. History curriculum for children with special needs can be incredibly engaging and diverse for many learners. 

This year, we are using:

You Are An Artist – I Drew It and I Knew It History and Landmarks and Maps

Beautiful Feet – Modern US and World History

Timeline from Homeschool In The Woods

Map work with GeoMatters

YouTube Videos – Crash Course History

Look At Curriculum For Children With Special Needs

Language Arts

My oldest son will be completing Language Arts as part of his school program. 

My approach for his little brother this year is one that I consider to be a little terrifying and bold. For the first time ever, we are not using a standard curriculum for reading or writing.

Yes, you heard me right. We are not using a standard curriculum for reading or writing – even though he’s dyslexic and even though he still struggles with basic reading.

I will likely write an entire post about this decision but for now, please know I made this decision based on how much progress I see him making as he pursues his own interests and practices reading using books and articles he finds fascinating.

Essentially, language arts for my 13 year old includes:


Free Writing with Mom as a scribe

Read Your Own Free Writing once complete

Books from the library using audible simultaneously or with mom as a guide

Look At Curriculum For Children With Special Needs


My oldest is taking a personal finance class this semester at his school. My youngest will continue with Teaching Textbooks and hands-on activities. 

The Best Approach To Math For Children With Learning Differences



Again, we are going a bit rogue this year with science. Because both of my boys are so knowledgeable in this subject, it has been difficult to find anything formal that will satisfy their desire to learn. With this in mind, most of what we are doing for science involves hands-on experiments. 

This year, we are using:

You Are An Artist – Science, Astronomy and Inventions

YouTube Videos – especially Mark Rober

Experiments and Hands-On Activities related to Astronomy, Geology and Chemistry. (I will share more as the year progresses – I find most of our activities on Pinterest.)

Look At Curriculum For Children With Special Needs

Other Subjects

They both take guitar twice a week and will continue for as long as they like.

My oldest plans to build a computer from scratch this fall using technology that is new to him.

My youngest rock climbs at a local gym at least once a week.

Gameschooling as interests allow, is always a part of our plan. (I love this post from my friend Cait – she lists games that work for every subject!)

Art is taken care of with all of the You Are An Artist we are incorporating this year. We will also continue with Picture Study Portfolios as time allows.

curriculum for children with special needs

A Real Life Look At Curriculum For Children With Special Needs

This is real life. This is what it takes to meet my children where they are, to accommodate their learning differences while at the same time, embracing their strengths. 

It has taken me almost a decade to let go of the idea that I “should” have a formal curriculum plan. Now, I realize that a learning plan has far more to do with my learners and their needs, that it does anything I can possibly order on the internet.

I am as excited about this year of learning together as I have ever been! I will let you know how it goes…

For more curriculum information and support:

Special Needs Homeschool Curriculum: Where To Start

The Most Effective Way To Transition Back To (Home)School

What It’s Really Like When Your Child Is Below Grade Level


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One Comment

  1. Yes, Yes and Yes! Formal curricula for reading never made sense to me. Boring! My complex boy is all about interest-led learning. He’s not very cooperative with anything else anyway. Remove the battle and make learning fun. He went from sounding out words to reading easy chapter books in a year. We just had to wait for that part of his brain to be ready. Then, watch out. You can’t stop him.

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