Teaching Preschoolers with Down Syndrome to Read – Part 2 (And Why We’re not doing Phonics, Yet)

Last post, I shared some videos showing how Junior is learning to read using See and Learn Phrases by Down Syndrome Education. We demonstrated the first four steps of learning to read using sight words.

Today, I’m sharing videos of the last two steps and discussing why we’re breezing through with sight words instead of slogging through phonics.

Continue reading “Teaching Preschoolers with Down Syndrome to Read – Part 2 (And Why We’re not doing Phonics, Yet)”

Teaching Preschoolers with Down Syndrome to Read with See and Learn

This post is for my five-year-old nephew, Aidan, whose school has been shut down for the third time this year. Aidan has a lot of developmental delays that mimic Down Syndrome, and virtual school is… well… virtual. So my sister asked me to show her how I’m teaching Junior to read. She lives across the border, which is also closed. So, I made her these videos.

Having a child with Down Syndrome is such an adventure. Never did I think that it was possible to teach a three-year-old with T21 to read. All my other children had learned to read when they were about five, so I figured that Junior would probably begin to read around seven or eight.

Thus, I was both surprised and intrigued when I came across some papers by Sue Buckley and colleagues. She had done extensive studies on teaching toddlers and children with T21 how to read. Based on her research, she discovered that not only was it possible to teach many toddlers with T21 how to read sight words, it was also extremely beneficial. Buckley writes:

Reading activities may be the single most important intervention for promoting the speech, language and cognitive development of preschool children with Down Syndrome….. we are quite convinced that it (reading) is the single most effective way to help children overcome the learning difficulties associated with Down Syndrome.

Buckley, Sue. Reading and Writing for Infants with Down Syndrome (0-5 years)

And,

Children introduced to literacy as a language teaching activity in preschool years reach the highest level of achievement.

Buckely, Sue. Reading and Writing for Individuals with Down Syndrome – An Overview.

Needless to say, six months ago I began teaching my 3-year-old with T21 to read. The goal was to enable him to say 2-3 word phrases without being prompted. You see, Junior can repeat almost anything I say, but he has difficulty retrieving words from his mind without a verbal or visual cue. When he does say a word unprompted, it’s often unintelligible. But learning to read is making a huge difference. Once he learns to read a word, it’s not long before he starts using it unprompted in speech and with greater clarity. Furthermore, his MLU (mean length of utterance) is increasing, meaning his phrases and sentences are getting longer. I can’t tell you how exciting it is for both of us to see him learn to read and speak.

Today I’m sharing with you, step by step (videos included!), how I’m teaching Junior to read.

Continue reading “Teaching Preschoolers with Down Syndrome to Read with See and Learn”

Memory, Imagination, and How to Avoid Boredom

Rote memorization.  Do you use it in your homeschool?

There’s a popular educational trend that pooh-poohs rote memory in favor of imaginative and critical thinking. I think this is because too often children have been required to memorize facts and procedures they did not understand. Unfortunately, instead of seeking to improve conceptual understanding so that the material being memorized  by rote is meaningful,  many educators today emphasize discovery learning and creativity while foregoing rote memorization.

But this, I believe, is putting the cart before the horse. In his clever satire, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, Anthony Esolen writes:

Without the library of memory…. the imagination simply does not have much to think about or play with. 

Continue reading “Memory, Imagination, and How to Avoid Boredom”

Spring Time Printables for Preschoolers with (or without) Down Syndrome

Aren’t you glad it’s spring? I definitely am! So I made this springtime bundle for Junior, all about woodland animals. More pre-writing, first letters, counting, pattern-making, and shape matching with some really *cute* artwork.

Come take a look:

Continue reading “Spring Time Printables for Preschoolers with (or without) Down Syndrome”

The Art of Writing an Essay

A happy and blessed Easter to you all! This past year, my oldest daughter has been writing essay after essay: essays for English and history classes, essays for college applications, essays for scholarships… it never seems to end.

“Since you are so experienced at writing essays,” I suggested, “why don’t you write an essay on how to write an essay? You know — for the plebians like us.”

So she did. Well, the essay was so witty and clever, I just had to share. Because sometimes we all just need a good chuckle:

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Music for Preschoolers with (or without) Down Syndrome

Happy World Down Syndrome Day! Earlier this winter, I attended a webinar featuring Dr. Brian Skotko, the director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusets General Hospital. He gave a wonderful, highly informative presentation on how to keep our loved ones healthy, boost their cognition, and how we might mitigate the onset and severity of Alzheimer’s Disease. We all know that keeping our kids active is so important to their overall health, but Dr. Skotko’s presentation showed how this is especially crucial for kids with T21.

One of the easiest ways I keep Junior active is by playing music for him. He loves music, and he loves to dance. So we play music and dance several times a day, and he really gets a workout. Bonus: He learns the lyrics and starts singing along, which is great for his speech.

Today, I’m sharing with you his current playlists of songs and dance music.

Continue reading “Music for Preschoolers with (or without) Down Syndrome”

A Super Easy St. Patrick’s Day Craft

Hello! St. Patrick’s day is just around the corner, so I thought I’d share this Holy Trinity Shamrock craft with you. I wanted a good visual that would help my kids understand why St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach about the Holy Trinity.

Here’s what I came up with:

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When Math = Misery

Math. For some children, this is the one subject that makes them balk. One look at a sheet of math problems is enough to make a child cringe and groan. Oh, the dreaded math, which takes forever to complete! The dreaded math, the bane of a student’s existence and the test of a parent’s mettle! When math = misery day after day, how can we motivate our children to complete their assignments with a good attitude and in a timely manner?

Start by finding the root cause.

Here are five reasons why kids complain about math and what we can do to help:

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How to Have a Happy and Lasting Marriage

This past year, both my parents and my in-laws reached a wonderful milestone in their lives: they celebrated their 50th Golden Wedding Anniversaries. As my siblings and I prepared to celebrate my parent’s anniversary, we began to reminisce about our childhood. We were reminded yet again of what an incredible marriage our parents had and still have. In fact, as far as we can remember, they only had one big argument. And it was over something so trivial that it has become a family joke. 

A loving  marriage is like the air we breathe: as long as we have it, we take it for granted. But, take oxygen out of the air and we’re in danger of suffocating. Likewise, if you take love out of a marriage, the relationship dies. 

At the same time, a loving marriage is like a game of golf: To the outsider, it looks so easy and natural. But the reality is that a loving, stable marriage takes a lot more effort than it looks. 

So for Valentine’s Day, I asked my parents and in-laws, golden experts on true love, for their advice on how to have a happy and lasting marriage. Here’s what they advised:

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Pre-writing Skills, Counting, and Winter-Themed Printables for Preschoolers with Down Syndrome

One of the things I’m working on with Junior is pre-writing skills. Since he is all about penguins and polar bears, I decided to make an arctic-themed bundle for him. And I made him some Valentine’s Day activities as well. Here’s what we’ve been doing to promote pre-writing skills and counting:

Continue reading “Pre-writing Skills, Counting, and Winter-Themed Printables for Preschoolers with Down Syndrome”