Homeschooling Nonverbal Children

Homeschooling nonverbal children can be done. You need some way to communicate with your child. I was taught to use PECS and sign language with children who had autism. PECS or sign language would be useful for most of the children who are nonverbal.


PECS is an acronym for Picture Exchange Communication System. It would be useful in homeschooling nonverbal children.

There are programs that you can buy such as Boardmaker and Typing with Symbols. Both products are by Mayer-Johnson. I have used both in the school system.

You can also use clip art. Most clip art can be downloaded for free. It might take you a while to find the picture that you need.

Another free idea is to use the camera. Take pictures of items that your child needs or wants.

To make PECS copy your picture on cardstock. If you do not have cardstock copy your picture and paste on 3 x 5 cards. Most people like to laminate the pictures so that they will last. If you do not have access to a laminator you can use clear contact paper. In the classroom we sometimes used clear packing tape to laminate the PECS.

The one problem with PECS is that you need to be organized. Get a large notebook. Use cardstock for pages. On the pages place Velcro. Label the pages into categories such as food, clothing, emotions, etc. Place your PECS in the correct category.

Homeschooling NonverbalChildren


PECS are good for writing schedules.Schedules would be good for homeschooling nonverbal children. The schedules help children who are nonverbal understand what comes next in the day. After the subject is completed you can either put a check by the picture or remove it.


You can use PECS to communicate with you child. Give your child two or three choices. Say something like "I want an apple." and point to the apple. Ask your child, "What do you want." Show them a picture of an apple and an orange. Let them point. When your child learns that he can choice between two acceptable choices they had less temper tantrums.

Social Stories

Social stories were another area where we used PECS in the school setting. When we used pictures instead of tell our students they seemed to understand better.

PECS can been to homeschool nonverbal children.They can be used in reading and math.

Pecs are also good for teaching beginning reading. With Writing with Symbols you can type stories. The program will print the words and pictures. This helps give the words meaning.

PECS can be used to play games such as lotto. They can be used to sort items. Add and subtract PECS for math. With a little creativity PECS can be used to teach most homeschool subjects.

Sign Language

Sign language can be used to homeschool nonverbal children. Sign language can help nonverbal children communicate. At the very least children need to know some important words. Teach them help, yes, no, bathroom, and wait. I also used the sign for stop a lot. "More" was also an important word to know.

It is best to start teaching sign language when your child is very young. An easy way to teach sign is by having them watch a DVD. There are several DVDs geared to babies and young children.

I used the video Sign With Me to teach my verbal/hearing children when they were young. They learned such words as father, mother, dog, and love. We got busy with other assignments and never finished. My children enjoy the lessons that we did. American Sign Language can be used as foreign language requirements for high school in some states.

In the classroom we used sign language to enforce words. We used sign when we did not have PECS near by and had to communicate fast.

If your child is also deaf you will want to teach how to communicate in sign language. Besides simple words he will need to know sentence structure. Sign language will be his main way to communicate. So, add to his words daily.

Isaac Millan has written a series of books for children that use pictures, English and American Sign Language to tell a story. The books are Moses Goes to School, Moses Goes to the Circus and Moses goes to a Concert. I thought the books were well written and interesting.

Homeschooling nonverbal children can be done when you use sign language and PECS to communicate with them.

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