by The SPED Homeschool Team


We surveyed the SPED Homeschool team and asked them to share how they used technology to teach in their homeschools over the years and here is what they shared regarding their favorite resource, tools, and how they worked best for their students.


Most Loved Tech Teaching Resources

Teaching with technology evolved over our 19 years of homeschooling, mostly because when we started our homeschooling journey the internet was new and much of the educational software back then was either very expensive or was a glorified game with some learning embedded into it. Needless to say, a lot has changed in 19 years. Here are some of the tech resources we loved the most during our homeschooling journey:

  • The 101 Series – A video-based high school curriculum program
  • Mark Kisler on YouTube – 3D drawing videos for kids
  • Zoom sessions with private tutors for French instruction
  • Khan Academy Math – As supplemental instruction videos for book curriculum
  • Audible – We have had the monthly subscription for years and used it most for listening to books that related to our unit studies or literature-based studies over the years
  • Homeschool History from Notgrass – Supplemental content to accompany just about any history you are studying in your homeschool
  • Homeschool with MindCraft – An inexpensive and fun learning option we tried a few times during our homeschooling journey

Peggy Ployhar 


Homeschool Tech Tools

In our homeschool, we use technology in a variety of ways. We have always used educational games and videos, but now include more curriculum online as well. Also, technology serves as a tool to support weaknesses and allow strengths to come through.

  • Scribeasy is a fun way to get my kids engaged in writing  
  • is free, and offers videos and games through early elementary school level
  • Voice to text and predictive text are available through Word, Google Docs, and Pages on iPad to allow my son to write short stories without frustration
  • Khan Academy Kids has fun educational games and videos for preschool and elementary age (also free) 
  • ABC Mouse for Preschool through First Grade
  • Adventure Academy is the next step from ABC Mouse (ages 8-12)  
  • IKnowIt is math practice or remediation 
  • Ascend Math has math fact flashcard practice (free) 
  • Journey Homeschool Academy has had great Science classes (Astronomy, Biology and new this year is Earth Science) 
  • Udemy has on demand classes on a variety of subjects for all ages 
  • Kindle Reader from Amazon to share books over zoom or just on the computer/tablet
  • Vooks is a great digital book resource for younger kids 
  • Audiobooks for the car for longer trips into town (CD, overdrive/Libby, or downloaded from other sources)
  • Digital versions of textbooks/workbooks to share over zoom with tutors, or share on the computer together
  • Touchscreen laptops to be able to “write” on the computer screen or tablet when working with online tutors, especially for math tutoring

Amy Vickery


Favorite Tech Learning Programs

We were pretty old school and didn’t use a lot of technology. We used a game on the computer to teach typing skills. But the one program that I used, and absolutely loved, to teach our younger two to read was Headsprout. It was an amazing program that took them from just knowing the letters of the alphabet to a second-grade reading level. The girls loved it and it took a lot of pressure off of me. 

Janice Peshek 


Making Tech Work for the Needs of Your Learner

Technology has been useful to “sneak” in learning with my daughter. I would add apps on my daughter’s pad that matched her learning goals. There were apps that matched her handwriting curriculum (Learning without Tears) , math (Touch Math), reading curriculum (All About Reading). Using the app made it more interactive for her and she requested the learning apps even on the weekends and when school was over. 

Another way we have used technology was using audiobooks to listen to chapter books. On the days where there needed to be more, I would add a YouTube video so that my visual learners could see the learning. Now there is more ability to meet with therapists over zoom since COVID. 

Still another great resource is Boom Cards-Boom Learning, which oftentimes can be free. I have found these cards most helpful when sickness hits because we can use them in place of therapy. 

My recent tech addition is having my daughter practice her spelling words and text them to family members. Picking what parts of technology work for your family is key.

Dawn Spence


Using Tech as Needed for Homeschooling

When I started homeschooling over 20 years ago, tech was not a big thing so we didn’t use it a lot except for classes I absolutely couldn’t teach, like art (thank you, Mark Kistler – see link above). We did, however, use it all the time to look up answers to questions that came up. It was more of a research tool than a teaching tool until late middle school and then high school. We did high school history online for two years using only

The iPad came out when my daughter was just starting school. We bought one immediately so she could use it for communication since she is nonverbal. I was amazed at how much knowledge she demonstrated using a device that she couldn’t otherwise communicate. In the early years, I added a lot of learning games and she loved those. Now it is primarily a communication device.

For a time, I taught Computer Science online for other students. This was a great format because each week, the students would run their programs so we could see and evaluate them. This was not as easy to do in a regular classroom.

Technology has been great for us on an as-needed basis.

Stephanie Buckwalter


To learn more about the SPED Homeschool team and what they do to ensure you have access to quality resources and training through our website, YouTube channel, newsletter and more, visit our team page.



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by Janet Romo from Autin & Lily


The best way to think about the value of homeschooling visuals is to reflect on the role they play for us in learning and remembering. 


Everyday Use of Visuals

 For example, I can tell you all about Maui, which is where my oldest daughter and her family live. I have been there many times and have explored the island. If you want to know about hiking, I can picture a hike I took to a waterfall and start remembering details. 

Similarly, if I ask you where the milk is located in the grocery store you frequent, you will picture the store and how to get to the dairy department. In both cases, the visuals were stored in your memory from having seen them before, and you could pull up these images to assist you in discussing the topics. 

But, visualizing can get tricky if you are hearing or reading about something you aren’t familiar with? 


Using Visuals for Reading Comprehension

For example, imagine a house that is mentioned in a book. A good reader brings up a mental image of a house. Then, the author adds more to the description, such as side entrance, mansion, Victorian, shutters, and sweeping front driveway. The reader now needs to refine his mental image of a house to picture the house in the story versus a house in general. To do that, the reader needs to understand the vocabulary used, and then use their working memory to create a visual by adding the features of the house so they can file that information. Then, hang on to the visual and continue reading the story. 

See how hard this is? You can see how a lot of what reading comprehension requires is cognitively out of range for some people who struggle with a learning disability. Not being able to visualize effectively causes a lack of comprehension. But, using visuals strategically can make a big difference. Visuals can be accommodations that support learning. 


Using Visual Aids for Specific Instruction

4th graders in Arizona learn about the Grand Canyon. As a parent or teacher, you want to think about the take-aways you want your student(s) to understand about the topic. 

For example, using my Grand Canyon book, I want students to know: 

  • the Grand Canyon is in Arizona
  • the Colorado River is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon
  • people go rafting on the Colorado River
  • the Canyon has been home to Native Americans for a long time
  • tourists like to visit the canyon, and some tourists rent mules to ride in the canyon. 

To teach this unit effectively, so that my daughter understands and remembers this information, I need to have a visual for each concept I want her to know. 


For example, this picture shows Lily that the Colorado River is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I would spend time studying this picture with her. I would go over information and ask questions. I would ask her to point at the Colorado River, then, ask what it is called, where it is, etc. 

Colorado river

This photo shows what rafting on the Colorado River looks like. 

This picture provides the student with an image of what hiking the canyon looks like. 

hiking in the Grand Canyon

This image helps understand the concept of tourists visiting the Grand Canyon. 

Grand Canyon tourists


Here is a video of my son working with Lily using our Grand Canyon book. It provides a good example of the role photographs play in information understandable. Some students with an intellectual disability cannot drum up a mental image of something new, like the Grand Canyon, but they can learn many things when the proper pictures are in place. 


Janet holds a doctorate in education leadership focused on intellectual disabilities. Her passion has been understanding and meeting the needs of at-risk learners. She is certified in Arizona in the areas of social studies, reading, middle school, English as a Second Language, and cross-categorical special education. Janet has over 25 years of experience teaching at the middle school, high school, and university levels. She is currently homeschooling her 20-year-old daughter, Lily. 



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By Sarah Collins, MSOT OTR/L from Homeschool OT


As an Occupational Therapist consulting with homeschool families, one of the top questions asked is, “Do I force my child to write?” The answer depends on the child and is not as simple as a yes or no. Here are the top three considerations when helping families to make this decision between handwriting and assistive technology.


1. What type of learner is the child? 

Kinesthetic learners need movement to help encode information. They wiggle frequently, often benefit from manipulatives in math, and their attention often follows their hands. Writing can provide the kinesthetic component to reinforce learning. In contrast, visual learners do well with typing because they can see information on the computer screen. Auditory learners do great with talk to text or even Google read and write. The VARK questionnaire can help families determine the specific learning style.


2. What is the environment of the homeschool? 

The environment considers posture for writing, length of time available for writing assignments, how many kids are present, even positioning of the paper. Often, with decreased distractions and a proper seated position, we can help a child be successful with writing so they can fall back on this skill when needed in the future.


3. For what types of assignments is handwriting needed? 

Typically, in our culture, the amount of handwriting needed peaks in late elementary school when kids are learning to write papers and need the speed of their writing to keep up with their thoughts. After this, writing is typically only used for note taking and then even less frequently for jotting reminders. Beginning around this middle school, my recommendations change from building the skills needed for handwriting, to accommodating for learning styles within adaptive strategies.


For more specific information on any of these considerations, please contact HomeschoolOT for a consultation for your homeschool. 


Sarah Collins, MSOT, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with a background in both pediatrics and home health, and a homeschooling parent. Sarah was first introduced to homeschooling in 2016 while working as an OT in a client’s home; she was amazed at the learning atmosphere and opportunities within the home. Now as an OT homeschooling her own family, she noticed that parents, though experts on their own children, were invariably asking the same questions and needed resources. As a result, Collins Academy Therapy Services aka HomeschoolOT was established with the dual purpose of educating parents on how to create homeschools specifically designed for students’ needs and training occupational therapists to best serve the homeschool community, together guiding children towards their specific purpose in life. You can find Sarah on line at on Instagram at and in the Facebook group she moderates at



  • American Occupational Therapy Association. (2020). Occupational therapy practice framework (4th ed.). American Occupational Therapy.
  • Flemming, N. Mills, C. (1992) Not another Inventory, Rather a Catalyst for Reflection. Improve the Academy. 11.
  • Haswell, Joanna, “A Close Look at Learning Styles” (2017). Honors Senior Capstone Projects. 23.
  • Sarma, S., Yoguinto, L. (2020). Grasp. Massachusetts Instit




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by Deede Hinckley Cauley (M. Ed., LPC) from the Real Reading Company


There are many ways that beginning readers and writers can learn foundational skills that can make a world of difference. Early learners need access to many hands-on materials and quality books. I will highlight three techniques that are important to early learners.


Hand and Eye Coordination 

Reading and especially writing requires hand eye coordination. Reading and writing accurately in English is a left-to-right activity. There are dozens of activities to build this skill. 

  • Providing building blocks with individual letters and numbers on them. 
  • Chatting about one letter at a time using plastic, wooden, or magnetic letters (or blocks) will build an understanding of alphabet letters and numbers. 
  • Taking a plastic letter ‘S’ and throwing it into the bathtub while hissing like a snake “ssss, sssnake” introduces the letter ‘S’ and its sound. 
  • Coloring an image of an apple and saying the short-vowel-a sound introduces the sound of the letter ‘A’. Coloring the letter ‘A’ provides the hand eye coordination needed. Actually, coloring in general is a step in the right direction. 
  • Making a snake with Play-Doh can introduce the letter ‘S’ while practicing the hand eye coordination of rolling the Play-Doh. Be creative as letters and numbers are slowly introduced. 
  • Singing the alphabet song is always a good way to ensure the individual letters are learned as well.


Using Everyday Activities 

Use everyday activities that match your young learner’s interests. For example: 

  • Choosing to receive their help when you mix up Jell-O and Pudding. The act of stirring is a chance to continue to practice the hand eye coordination required for reading and writing. 
  • Bouncing a ball, rolling it back and forth, playing catch with a soft toy, jumping up and down,is, believe it or not, one-step closer to the ability to blend letters into words. 
  • Learning to write the letters and to pronounce the letters is an early step to reading and writing. Drawing, coloring, chatting about, and laughing while riding in a car; also contribute to these skills. “The letter ‘T’ makes the ‘T’ sound, and what do we see that starts with the ‘T’ sound?” One might see a ‘tree’ or ‘tent’ or ‘tar’ on the road. 
  • Learning is enhanced by colorful and pleasant videos that introduce the letters of the alphabet as well.


Read, Read, Read

It is also important to read, read, read, to your young learner. Read silly stories, happy stories, restful stories, stories with a message, poetry, nursery rhymes are very important for learning concepts. “Jack and Jill went UP a hill. Jack came tumbling DOWN.” 


Relax and use everyday moments and activities to build the skills needed for life. If learning is engaging and fundamental, your early learners will have the basic skills they need to be successful.


Deede Hinckley Cauley (M. Ed., LPC) is the author and creator of the phenomenally successful Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple series (RSPS) and C.E.O. of the Real Reading Company (RRC). For nearly forty years her heart for struggling readers has led her to research, focus on what works, and teach reading and spelling to children, teens, and adults. Her experience included a teaching career that started in 1972 and provided her an opportunity to experience instruction at nearly every level (university, junior college, high school, middle school, and elementary). In the I980’s she became a charter member and officer of a local adult learn-to-read organization, and she had the privilege of homeschooling her son for several years.