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” →
Here are more FREE picture and sight word cards for those of you teaching your kids to read words by sight. This is a set of thirty-eight pictures of items around the house, some clothing, and favorite foods. Use them to build vocabulary, teach sight words, talk about word function, and for sorting.
Continue reading “Around the House and Food-Themed Picture and Sight Word Cards” →
Does your child need practice articulating three-syllable words? For many children with T21, difficulty with phonemic and short term memory is one of the causes of language delay. This really becomes evident when they try to remember how to say multi-syllabic words or construct sentences.
As a former piano teacher, I am noticing the similarity between teaching the language of music to typically developing children and teaching language to a child with Down Syndrome. For typically developing children (and adults!) learning to improvise on the piano can only occur after *a lot* of practice with scales and chord progressions. Similarly, it seems that for Junior, learning to “improvise” in speech only occurs after lots of practice with carrier phrases and repetition with words that are hard to articulate. Frankly, I’m hoping that at some point something will just “click” and he’ll start talking in complete sentences. But I’m still waiting for that to happen.
In the meanwhile, we’re working on articulating difficult sounds such as /h/ and /y/, and we’re working on three syllable words. We practice these at the word level and at the sentence level. And we practice them in scripted conversations. Moreover, because the written word has become a very powerful visual prompt, Junior is also learning to read these words by sight and partly by sounding out.
Of course we want to practice words that he will actually use in daily life. So, for this summer I made this set of flashcards for articulation practice and sight reading.
Continue reading “Three-Syllable Word Cards for Articulation… and Teaching Ornery Kids” →
Preparing for Advent, I’ve been thinking about how to make this time meaningful for my little guy, Junior. Since he loves pictures, I made him a collection of art cards that depict the Christmas Story. And since he loves nursery rhymes, I added short little poems to go with each picture. The verses are very simple and repetitive, so he can understand and repeat the words. My hope is that by looking at the pictures and saying the verses, Junior will see the beauty of the Christmas story. Sacred art really has the power to draw us into contemplation.
Come take a peek:
Continue reading “Free Advent and Christmas Art Cards for Little Ones” →
With many schools being closed yet again, I thought I’d share our Advent traditions and what Junior and I are doing for the month of December.
Continue reading “Advent and Christmas Activities for Preschoolers with (and without) Down Syndrome” →
This post is for a group of children so dear to my heart: toddlers with Down Syndrome and/or speech delays.
Experts say the the first three years of life is the most important period for the development of speech and language. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, our Junior and toddlers like him won’t be getting speech therapy for who knows how long. This is a real setback, unless parents take a proactive role in providing their little ones with therapy at home. Of course, getting therapy from an experienced and qualified speech therapist would be best, but there are many resources to help parents out.
So I’d like to share with you a list of speech therapy resources that we have found most helpful. Many of them have been recommended by Junior’s therapists and by a dear friend who is a speech language pathologist.
Continue reading “Speech Therapy Resources for Toddlers with Down Syndrome” →