Fifteen or so years ago, I began homeschooling my oldest child, and I’ve been homeschooling ever since. I’ve homeschooled five of my kids from preschool through sixth to eight grade. Even though my children differ widely in temperament, I eventually settled on a piece-meal curricula that worked well for everyone with some minor variations and changes over the years.
And then Junior came along. Junior, with his extra special chromosome, his zest for life and learning, and his gritty stubborn streak. Very early on, I realized that teaching him would be a whole new adventure. So I was not surprised when I came across the following:
Research has shown that young people with Down syndrome not only take longer to learn new skills but also learn differently in some key areas. Additionally, they benefit from some teaching strategies that are different to those typically used in education. Down Syndrome: Guidelines for Inclusive Education, International Down Syndrome Society and Down Syndrome Education International, Dec. 2021
As I read and researched about teaching children with T21, I began to keep a rolling list of best teaching strategies and practices. These have been incredibly helpful for homeschooling Junior and teaching three more little boys with T21 who come to my home for a Down Syndrome co-op.
Today I’m sharing these strategies with you and how we can use them at home.
Continue reading “Homeschooling a Child with Down Syndrome: Effective Strategies for Teaching” →
Last spring, I read more research by Sue Buckley, Joanna Nye, and colleagues about educating young children with Down Syndrome; this time it was about teaching math. They ran a study in the early 2000s assessing the effectiveness of the Numicon System in helping young children with T21 develop basic number skills.
Their findings were promising:
The key benefits of using Numicon for children with Down syndrome in the classroom are:Teaching Number Skills to children with Down Syndrome using the Numicon Foundation Kit
• The materials and methods clearly support the development of early number concepts, and in particular the ability to calculate – for some children, using Numicon enabled them to develop these skills for the first time
• It enables teaching staff to ‘see’ what the child is thinking, which is important for identifying both successes and confusions in the child’s understanding
• It can be used to support everyday number skills such as time and money
• It is especially beneficial to children who use a visual and/or multi-sensory approach to learning
• Children are motivated to engage with the materials as they are so attractive, and they develop confidence in maths work as they can succeed with the materials
• The clear structure of the teaching system is useful for teaching staff looking for a way to differentiate the numeracy curriculum.
The benefit of using the Numicon approach was seen most clearly at the stage when the children were learning to manipulate numbers – to add, subtract and multiply.
Of course, I had to go purchase the kit and play math with Junior. And being very pleased with Junior’s progress, I shared the 50-page study with my sister. As many of you know, she also has a young son with special needs. Quickly she emailed me back: TLTR. (Too Long to Read) Can you write up a dummies version?
Of course I can. So this post is for my sister and all other super busy moms who want to know how to teach basic number skills to young kids with or without T21.
Continue reading “Numicon-Based Math Activities for Preschoolers with (or without) Down Syndrome” →
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:
Continue reading “When Math = Misery” →
Happy September! Since we’re at the beginning of a new school year, I thought I’d share a little pedagogy with you. Specifically, I would like to draw your attention to the importance of developing critical thinking skills in our children. In fact, one of our goals as educators should be to help our students become critical thinkers. It’s not enough for our students to be able to memorize and regurgitate information. It’s not even enough for them to be able to understand and explain the information they have learned. Once students begin middle school, they need to develop even higher thinking skills.
Enter Bloom’s Taxonomy, a hierarchy of critical thinking skills laid out by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom in 1956. For decades educators have been using these six objectives to help students develop critical thinking skills. So it’s something homeschoolers need to know about. Here’s what it looks like:
Continue reading “Helping our Children Develop Critical Thinking Skills” →
When I was a child, my mother used to say, “Idleness is the devil’s workshop.” I find myself saying the same thing to my kids whenever boredom leads to trouble. Not that I’m against boredom. A certain amount is healthy — it allows children to use their imaginations and creativity in a free and leisurely manner. Excessive boredom, however, makes children want to eat when they’re not hungry and waste time on video games (which we don’t do here). It also incites kids to pester their siblings because they have nothing else to do.
The warm, care-free days of summer are a wonderful gift. But children still need structure. They still need to use their time constructively. Besides play-dates, swimming, biking, and sports, here are some things we are doing to make the most of our summer days.
Continue reading “How My Kids are Keeping Busy this Summer” →