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” →
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” →
How’s your school year going? Whether your kids are homeschooling, distance-learning, or doing some form of hybrid schooling, chances are you’ll be teaching your children to some extent. By default parents are teachers, especially in these uncertain times. So today, I’d like to share a little pedagogy with you, because after all, your teaching style is far more important than the curriculum you use and the plans you make.
We’ve all had some outstanding teachers and some not-so-great teachers. Have you ever stopped to think what made your great teachers great? Have you ever considered how you can be more effective and motivating as a parent-teacher? Here are three qualities of great teachers:
Continue reading “Three Qualities of Great Teachers” →
1 Corinthians 13. It’s probably St. Paul’s most famous letter – the one we often hear at weddings. Listening to it in church a few weeks ago, I realized that St. Paul could have written it (with a few tweaks) specifically for teachers and homeschoolers. In imitation of St. Paul then, here’s St. Paul’s Letter to the Homeschoolers:
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Do you ever have doubts if what you’re doing as a homeschool mom is working or making a difference? Here’s an article I wrote for Mercatornet:
George Washington, first President of the United States, was homeschooled. So were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the 3rd and 4th Presidents of the United States. Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, novelist Louisa May Alcott, and inventor Alexander Graham Bell were also educated at home, as were Laura Ingalls Wilder, Thomas Edison, Robert Frost, 32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt (in fact 14 American presidents were home educated), scientists Edith and Agnes Claypole, and geneticist Francis Collins.
Continue reading “Homeschooling in the USA: Yesterday and Today” →
Rascal: 7 years old. Highly imaginative. Fidgety. Fun-loving. Full of energy. Easily distracted. Affectionate. Attention-seeking.
He’s the lovable little guy who is smarter than you think but is so wiggly and easily distracted that trying to teach him is…. well, let’s be honest… sometimes plain torture.
How can we teach these kids who can’t seem to sit still? Here are some ideas that have helped with my irrepressible, spirited Rascal.
Continue reading “Teaching Kids who Can’t Sit Still” →
Once your child is ready and willing (at least most of the time!) to learn how to read, the third key to the door of literacy is easy to obtain.
Back in the days when I was a piano teacher, I had to teach children as young as five to read music. For most children, learning to read music is even more challenging than learning to read words. A single note has pitch, duration, volume, and articulation. When you give a child a string of notes to read in the treble clef and a completely different set of notes to read in the bass clef, you are asking the child to process several things at once. A lot of mental exertion is needed, so much so that the only way to learn the music is by repetition, repetition, repetition.
Continue reading “The Three Keys to Teaching Your Child to Read – Part 3” →
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Key Number Two: Willingness.
When Feisty was just about five, he was ready to learn reading. My precocious whipper-snapper had shown all the signs of readiness. But he was far from willing. He had done all the readiness activities happily enough. To him, it had all been a game. However, when we started with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, he balked. Perhaps the book looked too much like an adult’s book, with all those little letters for the parents to read. Perhaps all those oral exercises were too boring. I’m not sure. (By the way, I know many people who swear by this book. It really does work if you can get your child to co-operate.) But when Feisty decides he doesn’t want to do something, you’d better give up… unless you’re as headstrong as he is.
Continue reading “The Three Keys to Teaching Your Child to Read – Part 2” →
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When I first began homeschooling, I read a book that said, “Teaching your child to read is easy.” And it was… for my first child and for my second. You see, there are two conditions that need to be fulfilled in order for a child to learn to read with ease: Readiness and Willingness. For the most part, my first two children were ready and willing when I decided it was time to begin reading lessons. They learned to read quickly and easily.
But then my third and fourth children came along. All of a sudden, teaching reading became really challenging.
Continue reading “The Three Keys to Teaching Your Child to Read – Part 1” →