By: Jamie Hepburn, Gigi’s Playhouse
Children with Down syndrome are capable learners who are excited and eager to learn. They just need to be given the opportunity to excel. They may learn at a slower pace, but are more than capable of learning. They are strong visual learners. This means that they understand what they see better than what they hear.
Children with Down syndrome have specific points associated with their learning and development:
- They are visual learners.
- They understand a lot more than they can say.
- They are able to follow classroom rules and routines.
- They need help to remember instructions – use shorter phrases or visual clues.
- Teacher’s expectations of behavior, attitude and ability should be high.
- Children with Down syndrome can learn. However, we need to make compromises so that their educational needs can be met in the classroom.
Since children with Down syndrome are visual learners, teaching reading skills to students should be very visual. Activities such as acting out what the characters are saying, pointing to pictures in the book to give visual clues and allowing your child to ask questions about what you are reading, can all help your child comprehend the story. Visual demonstrations, pictures and illustrations can be successfully used to assist in providing effective instruction in other subject areas of the curriculum as well, including history and science. Lessons in phonics should also be included in the curriculum for the learner with Down syndrome.
The use of manipulatives can be beneficial in the development of number concepts. In addition, the use of physical demonstrations and activities are important when teaching math concepts.
Students with Down syndrome generally demonstrate good social skills, which can be a great asset when looking to increase learning and teaching opportunities. When speaking to a student with Down syndrome, it is important to speak directly to him, using clear language and short sentences. You should also allow adequate time for the child to process what you have said and respond.
Positive reinforcements are helpful for students with Down syndrome to boost their self-esteem and positive learning experience. This should be done at home and school.
Children with Down syndrome are silly, smart, adventurous and very capable of learning, just like their typically developing peers.
Does your child have Down syndrome? What fun learning activities have you tried with your little one?