Homeschooling: Home Educating a Child With Special Educational Needs

Many parents who have children with special educational needs consider home educating their child. While homeschooling may be the right option for the child involved, it’s essential you understand all it entails before you make a decision. 

If you’re considering educating your child at home, as an alternative to a mainstream or autism school, make sure you establish the reasons why you may want to home educate, what it involves and the law.

Should I Homeschool My Child?

Every parent has a right to homeschool their child, especially if they feel that they can provide a more suitable education for their child. But, as a parent with a child with autism or other special educational needs (SEN), your reasons may be more personal to your situation and your child’s needs.

Here are some common reasons to home educate autistic children or those with other SEN:

    • Lack of Support for Children with SEN: many parents find mainstream schools are unable to provide sufficient assistance, support and resources to meet their child’s educational and personal needs.
    • Unsuitable Environment: children with sensory needs may find that a school is noisy, distracting and causes them pain. This can make it hard for them to behave and concentrate in the way the school expects. This may result in them having meltdowns in the classroom.


  • Socialising in School: Children with autism often find the social aspects of school difficult to cope with.

Image by Mark Maclaine

What Does Home Educating Involve?

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to homeschooling a child. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and anxious when deciding on an approach to take, especially if you have no formal teaching qualifications or experience.


There are many different ways of home educating children with autism, from self-directed learning to a more structured approach. You’ll know which approach is best for you and your child.


Don’t worry, there are plenty of useful resources, services and charities you can go to for help and support.

Here are some organisations that can help:  


Home Education And The Law:


As a parent, you are legally responsible for the education of your child. This is usually fulfilled by sending your child to school. However, homeschooling is a legal and rightful alternative.


Home School Laws:


  • If your child is already at school, you must write a letter to the headteacher informing them of your decision. If your child is not enrolled at a school, you don’t have to inform any schools or the local authority.


  • You don’t have to follow the national curriculum. The education must be suitable to their age and ability, and any special educational or additional needs must be factored in.


  • Your local authority has no legal requirement to monitor your child’s home education. Informal enquiries and annual updates should be enough.


The law is different in Scotland compared to that in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. More information can be found on the Government website.

Image by Mark Maclaine 

How To Home Educate:

There are many advantages of homeschooling an autistic child. It offers parents freedom and flexibility to educate their child the way they believe best.


  • As mentioned, you do not have to follow the national curriculum. It’s worth pointing out that many children with autism may struggle with the rigid structure of the national curriculum. This means you can pick and choose what your child learns.


  • You may choose to focus primarily on the subjects and areas that your child struggles in. Or alternatively, you may only work on topics your child enjoys.


  • You do not have to follow set school hours or term times. This gives you the freedom to plan the day around your child’s optimal learning times.


  • Unconventional learning environments are encouraged. Visits to leisure centres, the zoo, museums, the beach and other places offer learning opportunities.


  • You may consider hiring a private tutor to educate your child. Check they have experience teaching children with autism / SEN.


  • Exams do not legally have to be taken. If you wish your child to take exams, you need to arrange for your child to sit these. Information about exams can be found here.

Whether or not you decide to home educate a child with special educational needs, remember there is lots of support and advice available. Many autistic children thrive and succeed in schools, whereas others find it more difficult. Ultimately, homeschooling is a decision you as a parent will know to make based on the needs of your child.

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