The Best Homeschool Curriculum for Special Needs

Finding Curriculum With Our Special Needs Children

Twelve years ago our second child was diagnosed with autism, ten years ago our family made the decision to homeschool, and today we have six children; three of those children have special needs. When we made the decision to homeschool, it was very important to me to find a curriculum that we could use with all of our children, especially those that had special needs.  After scouring the internet, some trial and error, a couple homeschool conventions, and many chats with fellow homeschooling moms, I finally heard about BookShark and knew I had to give it a try.  


Some of the things I was looking for in a curriculum as a special needs homeschooling parent were:

1) Daily Schedule

Any parent is busy and has a lot on their plate, add on being a parent of a child with special needs, and I knew I would need to delegate.  One delegation I was happy to hand off was the daily scheduling of our homeschool year. BookShark’s daily 4-day a week schedule is planned for all 36 weeks of a typical school year.  However, as any parent of a child with special needs knows, schedules are more like guidelines and flexibility is the name of the game.  BookShark’s schedule does not have dates attached to it.  So if we have one of those weeks and we only get two days in a week done, we can pick up the next week right where we left off with no problem.  Plus, we get to check off the schedule as we go.  When there are many days where the long list of to-dos doesn’t get much love, it feels very satisfying to know something is getting done. 

2) Open and Go

I not only wanted a curriculum that was scheduled for me, but also one that I didn’t need to do much preparation for.  An open and go curriculum is aptly named, it is one where you literally get to just open the book and go, no need to do much, if any, preparation time.  Everything is laid out, from the discussion questions to the vocabulary words.  All the materials come in the box, or are easy to come across in your home (like a cotton ball!)  

3) Literature-Based 

This one may be a little surprising to other special needs families out there, as reading tends to be a common struggle in the special needs world.  Our family is no different.  Teaching our children to read has been one of the hardest things we have ever done, and we are not close to being done with it yet.  Helping our children to gain a love of reading was of utmost importance to us.  Learning through stories is one of the best ways for any child to learn.  We knew that our special needs children would have a difficult time with a textbook, but tell them a story and it would stick with them longer. Thus we wanted a literature based curriculum. Getting to gather together and read aloud has been one of our favorite parts of homeschooling.  The independent reading we knew would be the biggest challenge.  We have needed to take time to sit and read with them and have also used resources like Audible and Libby so our kids could listen and read along.

4) Hands-On

While we knew we wanted literature based, we also knew that our special needs children wouldn’t be able to just sit there for long periods of time listening to book after book.  So we wanted a curriculum that would also be hands-on.  BookShark has hands-on activities scheduled into the lessons!  Manipulatives are included for various subjects at different levels.  Craft boxes and lap books can all be added for that extra tactile support. See our Hands-On options.


5) Lessons that Build

Having short lessons that build on each other each day was the last check on my list our curriculum needed to have.  My special needs children could only handle learning in little bite-sized chunks before needing a break.  We needed to find something that could be manageable to do one portion, take a break, do the next section, eat some lunch, do another section, go outside, etc.  By not using textbooks, quizzes, tests, or busywork, my kids could get the information they needed a little bit at a time.  The BookShark curriculum is laid out perfectly to do small sections that build on each other every day.  


This list of five requirements for a curriculum for my special needs children seemed like pie in the sky, too good to be true, not out there.  And then I came across BookShark.  BookShark checked off all five boxes in a very simple, laid out way that was easy to understand and simple to use. We were sold.

We have been using BookShark for many years now, and I’m so grateful we decided to give it a try.  Finding the right curriculum for your atypical or special needs child is not always easy, but I promise it is out there.  There are so many options available in the homeschooling world today.  Make your list of what you want out of your homeschool curriculum and start searching.  While you're at it, give BookShark a try.  They have the first three weeks of lessons for free on their website for any level that interests you.  Who knows, it may be the exact thing you’ve been looking for.