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Homeschooling Children with Down Syndrome

By Amy Dunaway

©2010 – All Rights Reserved

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Table of Contents
1 2 3 4 Introduction Why Homeschooling Homeschooling and Down Syndrome FAQs – Homeschooling Children with Down Syndrome and other Special Needs 5 6 7 8 9 Learning and Down Syndrome Individualized Education Plans Learning the Basics – Reading Writing and Arithmetic Reading and Down Syndrome – The Early Years Reading and Down Syndrome – The Primary Years 8 10 13 16 18 20 21 24 4 5 6

10 Motivation and Errorless Learning 11 Routines – The Groove 12 Visual and Verbal Memory And Down Syndrome 13 Down Syndrome and Challenging Behavior 14 Homeschooling and Down Syndrome – “The Reluctant Learner,” The Homeschooling Parent 15 Homeschooling and Down Syndrome – “The Reluctant Learner,” The Child 16 Homeschool Burnout 17 The Homeschooling Community Supporting Families with Children with Special Needs

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Appendix A. Prayer for Homeschooler with Children with Special Needs B. Reading Recommendations C. Math Curricula Suggestions D. Curriculum Resources E. Software Recommendations F. Resources for Speech, Language and Communication G. Resources - Homeschooling and Down Syndrome

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Chapter One Introduction
Our family began its homeschooling journey in 1992 with the birth of our daughter with Down syndrome. Reagan is now almost 16 years old and thriving in the homeschooling environment. She is a well-adjusted, delightful young lady. I have faced many challenges through the years on our homeschooling journey but the greatest was unlocking the key to learning for Reagan. We decided early in her life that the public school system in our area could not meet her learning needs and began our homeschooling journey. Children with Down syndrome commonly have auditory processing challenges with impaired shortterm memory, difficulty with attention, delayed language acquisition and articulation issues, impaired cognition, and gross/fine motor delays significant issues. I, like most other parents who have children with special needs, spent a great deal of time in research about my child's condition. The more I learned, the greater confidence I felt that I could parent this child and meet her learning needs by homeschooling her. Homeschooling is a natural extension of what parents do to care for and nurture their child's growth and development - homeschooling begins at birth. A child with Down syndrome needs syndrome specific instruction in skill acquisition and development in areas that are often taken for granted by parents of typically developing children due to the challenges they face. Down syndrome is the most well researched syndrome which causes intellectual impairment. As a result, much is known about the way children with Down syndrome learn but it takes an information junkie and a great deal of persistence to find it. I confess to being an information addict which has blessed our lives in the knowledge I have gained.

In my research about education and Down syndrome I discovered a common theme in several books and research articles – targeted etiologybased interventions. Children with Down syndrome face etiologyspecific (specific to Down syndrome) strengths and weaknesses – different from other causes of intellectual impairment. These strengths and weaknesses have become known as the specific (or typical) learning profile of children with Down syndrome. Targeted etiology-based interventions look to those strengths and weaknesses to develop a plan for intervention based on what is known about how children with Down syndrome learn. Children with Down syndrome learn differently than typically developing children. To think that children with Down syndrome are just “slow learners” is to do them a great disservice. The learning profile of children with Down syndrome clearly defines their learning differences. As time goes by, more and more research points to the success that comes with targeted etiology-based interventions – yet mainstream education has not followed suit. For the most part, they have failed to embrace our children‟s learning differences and adapt classroom learning to their needs. The impact of this knowledge I have gathered in my research on our homeschool has been tremendous. Learning has occurred at a more rapid rate. Any frustration that comes with the work that must be done to learn has dramatically decreased. Attention skills grew. Difficult behaviors and avoidance type behaviors are mostly gone as they pertain to schooling!

Chapter Two Why Homeschooling
When my husband and I started our family, we had many discussions about homeschooling. Initially, it piqued my interest as a rather novel idea - totally foreign to me. With time, research, much prayer and the birth of a child with significant special needs, I was completely convinced that homeschooling was the only path for our family. Today, I am passionate about homeschooling my children and the homeschooling movement. I love to share the benefits of homeschooling with anyone who shows an interest in our lifestyle. I think the best way to show the benefits of homeschooling to others is to have my children out in the community. Most people are quite impressed with their behavior and their ability to interact with people of all ages. In my opinion, the greatest benefit of homeschooling to our family is that God does not have to be compartmentalized in the lives of my children. We can learn about and uphold the traditions of our faith at home. Holy Scripture is a part of our everyday life. We pray together. We grow together in Christ as we make decisions and implement them. Our Triune God is celebrated in our house and looked to when we face difficulties...and praised for the blessings we receive. The National Home Education Research Institute says the key reasons for home education are the transmission of beliefs and values to children, close family relationships, controlled and positive peer social interaction, quality academics, alternative approaches to learning and safety. I think all these factors played into our decision to homeschool our children. Why Homeschool Children with Special Needs? Families are educating their children with special needs in their own homes to provide them with an

education that targets their specific learning needs and to provide an education that will not sacrifice academic learning for life skills and "socialization." Many families leave the public school system after unsatisfactory academic progress for which they saw no other option than to educate their child at home. I even know of a few cases of abuse as a result of public school placement. I moderate three yahoo groups which target families homeschooling children with Down syndrome and have listened to many, many stories over the years. The system (early intervention and/or the public school system) has difficulty meeting the needs of our children. The biggest lesson I learned when we participated in the system was that it primarily seeks to serve itself – sad, but true in our experience and that of many others. There are good stories too - wonderful placements and caring professionals. We did not get that experience. We met professionals with low expectations, who cared little for the individual they were providing services for and could not see beyond her diagnosis of Down syndrome. Faith Concerns Why don‟t more Christians don't homeschool their children? This article gives a scary picture of what children face in the public schools today: "80% of Christian families send their children to public schools where their faith is attacked. Based on the study's findings, it appears that their children are the ones being "evangelized" by the religion of secular humanism. More than half of their Christian teens believe Jesus sinned and only 9% hold to moral absolutes, while 83% of children from committed Christian families attending public schools adopt a Marxist-Socialist worldview, reports the group."

Our hope is that by keeping my children home for their education, that we are raising strong disciples for Christ - placing the Lord first in their lives, strong in their knowledge of Holy Scripture and joyfully fulfilling the Great Commission.


Chapter Three Homeschooling and Down Syndrome
Once we made the decision to educate our children at home, I read everything I could get my hands on about homeschooling. As we moved through our homeschooling journey, much of what I learned about homeschooling and Down syndrome I learned the hard way by working with my daughter. Initially, I didn't have Internet access and therefore no access to information on how children with Down syndrome learn or even others homeschooling families with children with Down syndrome. Professionals were not really helpful because they had little specific knowledge about Down syndrome. We engaged a consultant with a Masters in Special Education as an educational consultant. He gave us suggestions for curriculum and general information about learning in children with cognitive challenges - and information about academic and developmental skills progression in typically developing children. He also gave me the confidence to homeschool our daughter with special needs but did not have the answers on how to overcome the challenges we faced. It wasn't really the fault of the professionals we worked with - it takes a long time for research to trickle down to those working in the field. In fact, with Reagan, I had to unlearn much of what I knew about homeschooling and learn with her, about her & her unique needs. I now have a room (seriously) filled with research into how children with Down syndrome learn along with my regular homeschooling stuff! The fact is children with Down syndrome learn differently. Simply put, they are wired differently. Methods used for typically developing children may eventually work I suppose, but to lessen frustration all around and increase learning potential (and keep motivation high) they need their specific learning profile targeted for success. The learning profile is a list of strengths and weaknesses common to children with Down syndrome - different from typically developing children and children with other causes of developmental delays. Today, there is a great deal of support for families homeschooling children with Down syndrome primarily found on the internet. For more information: Homeschooling and Down Syndrome A family oriented list. Home Education and Down Syndrome A list for committed homeschooling families that focuses on the special learning needs of children with Down syndrome - resources, curriculum, strategies for teaching etc. Homeschooling Kids with Down Syndrome A list comprised of only homeschoolers with children with Down syndrome. It is a closed list but if you are interested just send me an e-mail. National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network (NATHHAN), a Christian support network for those homeschooling children with special needs, also offers e-mail support for those of us homeschooling children with Down syndrome. Send me an e-mail and I'll give you the contact information.


The Benefits of Homeschooling the Child with Down Syndrome and other Special Needs  The child with special needs can receive the one-on-one teaching that will enable them to grow academically. This cannot be matched in the public school setting. The program can specifically target the child‟s relative strengths and tailor the child‟s education in such a way that increases learning potential. Homeschooling also allows us to teach subjects not commonly offered in the public school system. The program designed for them by the person who knows their needs intimately. Your home program will best suit their individual needs. You can create a balanced program that does not sacrifice academic skills for life skills. The child can learn at his/her own pace to allow their needs to be met properly. Concepts can be taught with the repetition necessary for mastery using a wide variety of materials ensuring success appropriate to the child's needs and developmental age. The child will have the opportunity for successful learning experiences that will motivate them to develop persistence in learning difficult concepts. The child learns academic and functional life skills in the best of all venues-real life. Fractions are “important” when it comes time to share a pizza! The child with special needs can learn where they are safe from peer ridicule. Many children with special needs are the object of peer ridicule because of processing difficulties, difficulty expressing themselves, physical impairments or cognitive challenges. They can make mistakes where it is safe to do so – their own home.

The parent can pick and choose social opportunities. Homeschooled children are not limited to socializing with only their peers. They tend to socialize with children and adults of all ages for a wide variety of experiences. Homeschooled children are less affected by peer pressure. Character development and behavior issues can be dealt with by providing an environment where limits and consequences are consistently enforced. Homeschooling can offer atmosphere where the choices and consequences are articulated as necessary to make the best choice available and wrong choices can be discussed and dealt with consistently. The spiritual needs of children with special needs can be met best in our own homes where they will be exposed to the love and word of God. In a world where many of our children seen as "disposable" and somehow less worthy, they need to know that God has a plan for them and loves them unconditionally. God does not make mistakes! "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. Praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:13-14, NIV. The health benefits are tremendous. Children exposed to Early Intervention in group settings and the public school system are constantly exposed to every viral/bacterial illness present in the community. Homeschooled children with special needs can avoid many of these common illnesses until they are older and better able to tolerate them.

Chapter Four FAQs Homeschooling Children with Down Syndrome and other Special Needs
Over the years, I've been asked many questions about homeschooling children with special needs. I thought I would post the most frequently asked questions just in case you needed to know! Is it legal to homeschool children with Down syndrome and other special needs? Homeschooling is legal across the United States – even for children with special needs. The level of accountability varies state to state so it is good to know the law and level of accountability of the state in which you live. Why do parents decide to homeschool their child with special needs? Many families I know are already firmly ensconced in the homeschooling lifestyle when their child with special needs is born. Some are medically fragile. Others research homeschooling knowing their child will face obstacles to learning that may be better targeted at home. Some come to homeschooling because of difficulties they have experienced in the public school system Don’t you need special training to educate a child with special needs? Many parents I know that have turned to homeschooling with a degree in special education say that their degree is often a hindrance! In getting their degree, they are often given the big picture but it doesn‟t help them homeschool their child with special needs. The parent knows their child best and know their needs. Is there a special curriculum for homeschooling children with special needs? The short answer is - not really. Curriculum choices should be based on the unique needs of each child. I would encourage you to look outside the homeschooling world for those children with

significant special needs. There is a great deal out there to choose from. The longer answer: Many known syndromes and disorders are associated with known behavioral traits called a phenotype. These traits give us a profile of strengths and weaknesses that we can target to create better learning environments. For example, children with autism are known to have communication and social deficits – part of their phenotype. Therefore, they need specific teaching in social skills presented primarily visually to impact learning. Homeschooling children with special needs takes creativity in adapting what is available to the child's relative strengths and weaknesses. How about special curricula for children with Down syndrome? Down syndrome is the most researched of all causes of intellectual disability. Much is known about the strengths and weaknesses of children with Down syndrome. Therefore, there are targeted interventions known to help them learn. Researchers are working to provide tools and curriculum to aid learning – much of it targeting early learners. See: Bob Jones University Press Adapted Curriculum (send me an e-mail for more information) See and Learn Numicon Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County Learning Program Where do I go for information and support? I would suggest you seek out others homeschooling children with the same diagnosis as your child. It is great to have face to face support so check out your local homeschooling association. The internet is also a great place to find others for support. Yahoo

Groups has a support for almost anything you can think of! Just type homeschooling and ____ (fill in the blank with your child‟s diagnosis) into the search engine and you will most like find a group to provide information and support. How do I know if my child is learning? You know your child best and you will become very familiar with what they know and what they are learning as you see them implement the knowledge they have learned. Many families use a developmental and/or academic skills inventory to help them set goals and display learning progress. See: VORT (my favorite) The Brigance Where do I start? Right where you child is functioning – then build up the skills he/she has. Many families use one of the above developmental skills inventories to gauge where their child is functioning and choose curriculum that fits their learning style. Learning styles are important in children with special needs in targeting their individual learning needs. What about professionals? I believe professionals can be an invaluable resource in supporting homeschooling families – if they are well educated in the child‟s diagnosis, targeted interventions….and have the child‟s best interests at heart. We have found it most beneficial to search the private sector for professional help. Those within the system tend to be bogged down by the system and not as interested in the individual with special needs and their family. Have you heard of the neurodevelopmental approach? Many homeschoolers use neurodevelopmental consultants to develop very specific home programs for their children. Neurodevelopmentalists design a program to build on the neurological framework to support skill development. This in contrast to mainstream approaches which are skills based.

See: NACD: National Association for Child Development Hope and a Future Linda Kane ICAN: International Christian Association of Neurodevelopmentalists Note: I am not necessarily recommending the neurodevelopmental approach (lack of peerreviewed research) but many parents of children with Down syndrome and other special needs find their services beneficial - especially in the areas of reading and memory. Having not used this approach, I really have no opinion - just awareness of the support families get using their services. Do I need legal protection? Legal protection is a sensitive and somewhat controversial subject. Homeschoolers can become a target of well-meaning public school authorities and social workers. Homeschoolers with children with special needs can be particularly vulnerable. In my opinion the persecution of homeschoolers is pretty rare. Research the need carefully - no one wants to be caught unaware. Home School Legal Defense Association Pacific Justice Institute National Home Education Legal Defense The Rutherford Institute What about socialization? I think what most concerns most people considering homeschooling their child with special needs is not socialization (the process by which the norms and standards of our society are passed from one generation to another) but socializing – the gathering for communal activities where friendships are formed. I have found the homeschooling community the most inclusive of communities and the opportunities for socializing are endless and not a problem.

Chapter Five Learning and Down Syndrome
We made the decision to homeschool not long after Reagan was born. Her birth and the diagnosis of Down syndrome cemented our decision to homeschool both girls. During that first year, I read everything I could get my hands on about homeschooling. Early on, much of what I learned about homeschooling and Down syndrome I learned the hard way -- by working with Reagan. Initially, I had no internet access and, therefore, no access to how children with Down syndrome learn or even others homeschooling children with Down syndrome. Professionals were not really helpful because they had little specific knowledge about learning and children with Down syndrome. They tended to work with her based on isolated diagnoses i.e.: Physical Therapy – hypotonia Speech Therapy - delayed speech No one was looking at the big picture and what Down syndrome means to the whole child. We couldn't blame them though - it takes a long time for research to trickle down to those working in the field. During those early years, I made lots of mistakes. In fact, with Reagan, I had to unlearn much of what I knew about homeschooling and learn with her, about her & her unique needs. When I finally got internet access a whole new world was opened for me. My husband worked long, hard hours when the girls were younger. I used the hours he was working after the girls were in bed for the night to research. Little by little, I amassed a great deal of information which made a dramatic difference in our homeschool. I now have a room (seriously) filled with research into how children with Down syndrome learn along with my regular homeschooling stuff! I've come to the conclusion after all these years that

targeted intervention (specific to the special needs of learners with Down syndrome) is where the future lies in education and Down syndrome and successful learning experiences for our children in our homes. Research shows it to be very promising and hopefully as awareness grows targeted intervention will increase in our early intervention programs and the public school system. Targeted intervention is basically teaching to the child‟s learning style – a hallmark of homeschooling. In the case of children with Down syndrome, this takes on greater significance. Typically developing children most often will learn using a variety of methods. They may be primarily visual learners, primarily auditory learners or primarily kinesthetic learners but can adapt to a variety of methods. Children with Down syndrome learn differently. Methods used for typically developing children often slow progress in learning and decrease our children successful learning experiences. A good example of targeted intervention is found in a book most parents of children with Down syndrome have, Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome, by Patricia Oelwein. Her method of teaching children with Down syndrome to read (matching, selecting, naming) targets their specific learning profile (visual learners) and utilizes errorless learning...and our children find success! A learning profile is basically a list of strengths and weaknesses developed from a set of observable behavioural traits called a phenotype. Children with Down syndrome have a specific learning profile different from typically developing children and children with other forms of intellectual disability. The awareness of this profile and incorporating it into our daily lives drastically improved our successful learning experiences.

Down Syndrome - The Typical Learning Profile
Children with Down syndrome (Down syndrome) often share a set of observable behavioural traits known as a phenotype. These traits are different than seen in typically developing children and children with other causes of intellectual disabilities. I like to look at the big picture or the whole child. These traits do not occur in isolation but influence each other and can cause obstacles to learning. Not all children with Down syndrome will show the typical learning profile seen here but the majority will. I must say Reagan fits this picture perfectly! Targeting the strengths of children with Down syndrome will result in a more optimal learning environment. Working to strengthen the weaknesses in the profile will give the child the tools to increase functional competence as they grow. Children with Down syndrome often share a set of observable behavioural traits (phenotype) displayed in the following profile. Not all children will show the typical strengths and weaknesses listed below but children with Down syndrome are more likely to share these behaviors. We can help children with Down syndrome to learn by understanding their typical developmental and learning profile and teaching to their strengths.  Children with Down syndrome have significant cognitive challenges. As with the general population, there is a wide range in IQ levels but most operate in the mild to moderate range of mental retardation. IQ has limited practical value and tells us little about functional competence. Older children with Down syndrome have mental ages ranging from 4-6 years of age. Most individuals with Down syndrome do not progress beyond the average capabilities of the average 6-8 year old. Children with Down syndrome typically have relative learning strengths in the areas of visual processing (the ability to make sense of information taken in with the eyes) and visual memory (recall) skills. They learn best when information given verbally is paired with visual supports such as the use

of sign, gestures, the written word, drawings or pictures for visual cues. Learning from seeing is important and effective for children with Down syndrome.  Children with Down syndrome have speech and language delays. They have relative strengths in their receptive language skills and are typically able to understand far more than they can say or sign. Their understanding of spoken language is often underestimated due to these delays. Children with Down syndrome have relative deficits in expressive language. Expressive language skills often fall behind receptive language abilities. A high incidence of hearing difficulties early in life contributes to speech and language delays. Many are able to effectively use gesture (e.g., pointing, guiding) and sign language for communication. This should be an acceptable form of preverbal communication for our children with language delays. A small number (approximately 5%) of our children with Down syndrome will be nonverbal and require some kind of augmentative communication. Children with Down syndrome typically have strong social skills (though they may misread or misuse social skills at times) and enjoy learning from social interaction where meaningful two-way communication and interaction takes place. Take advantage of this strength using games and other social activities to reinforce concepts and practice skills. Children with Down syndrome have auditory processing and working memory deficits making learning from listening difficult. For this reason, it is imperative that information to be learned is paired with visual cues.

They have delays in fine and gross motor skills. Fine motor delays may make working with manipulatives and writing difficult. With time and practice, most children with Down syndrome will learn to write legibly. Delays in gross motor skills limit a child‟s ability to explore the environment which further delays cognition. Children with Down syndrome frequently display challenging behaviors. They show higher rates of attention problems, social withdrawal, noncompliance and compulsive behaviors. From early infancy on, escape and attention motivated challenging behaviors involving noncompliance and misuse of social skills are common. Challenging behaviors result in reduced learning and social opportunities.

What this really tells us is that children with Down syndrome are primarily visual learners. They have great difficulty learning from listening. Therefore, all learning material must be paired with visuals and/or sign language as a visual cue. Reagan has always had good language skills and communicated her needs quite well so we had no need to learn sign language. Teaching to her visual learning style, with frequent repetition, while keeping learning errorless were the keys for her in consolidating concepts. Homeschooling has been such a gift to us! It has given us the ability to implement what the research tells us about learning and Down syndrome.


Chapter Six Individualized Education Plans
Every summer I take the time to write and Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for the upcoming school year. Because my daughter has Down syndrome, she does not learn at the same pace or in the same way as typical learners. I find creating and IEP helps to keep me on track and focused on meeting my child's needs in thoughtful, reasoned way. A few days during the summer focusing on setting goals, breaking down skills - creating a plan for the coming year sharpens my sense of where we have been, all that my daughter has accomplished and where we are going. Are IEPs required for those homeschooling children with special needs? There is no legal requirement for homeschoolers to create an IEP for their child with special needs. Doesn't every homeschooled child have an IEP? There is a certain amount of truth to this statement. Homeschooling does provide an environment where each child receives and individualized education based on how they learn and allows them to learn at their own pace. IEPs are intentional in thought and purposeful in achieving individualized goals for areas of weakness and any deficiencies in academic skills. Why write and work with an IEP if it's not required? Developing an IEP for children with special learning needs is beneficial to the parent and the child with special needs. 1. It allows us to plan goals for the future and ways to meet these goals. 2. It allows us to break down goals into short-term objectives (more manageable pieces)to implement our plan for the child. 2. It also provides for instructional direction. What are we going to concentrate on this day, week, month, year. The IEP allows us to address how we going to teach skills and concepts. 3. It is documentation of your child's progress in the

event of inquiries. I create simple checklists for the skills/concepts we are working on. When a skill/concept is consolidated, I get the simple pleasure of dating it and checking it off! Sounds time consuming - Is it worth the effort? For me, it has been a huge time saver! Yes, it does initially take time and effort to create but then I know we have a plan and I don't have to waste time deciding what we are going to do, look for materials, give a great deal of though to breaking down skills. It's already done! Also, if you are required to report hours/days schooling to a state or local authority, time spent working on IEPs count as school hours. Domains IEP's generally include the following academic areas or domains: Language, Reading, Math, Perceptual Skills, Writing or Pre-writing Skills, Fine and Gross Motor Skills. You can also include domains such as life skills, social skills, self-help skills and/or character development What kind of information should be on an homeschool IEP? The IEP should have the following information: 1. Present skill level or present level of performance. This can be documented on a developmental inventory. 2. Long-term goals for any areas of weakness or deficiency. These should be reasonably accomplished over the next twelve months. Challenge your child-he/she will achieve goals. Decide what your priorities are with realistic expectations. Long-term goals are generalized, broad-based such as "Charlotte will increase in receptive language skills." There may be more than one long-term goal per domain or skill area. If you

meet your goals for the year, set up more goals. An IEP should be fluid, always moving forward. Do not be afraid of moving a goal that has not been reached into the next year's IEP. 3. Short-term objectives to meet the long-term goals. These should be specific, concrete, welldefined objectives tailored to meet your child's individual needs and based on their long-term goals. These are the daily steps you take to educate your child. Each objective that you meet brings you closer to your long-term goal. Use these short-term goals as benchmarks to show the mastery level your child is expected to have at certain times of the year. 4. Methods and materials to meet these goals and objectives. These could be items/games made by the home educator, specific curriculum or other resource to implement your individualized program. 5. An evaluation to measure progress. You need to define how you will know your child is making progress. With some thought most skills can be broken down as a task analysis. Task analysis involves identifying a skill, determining an entry behavior, analyzing the skill and recording the sequence of task events into small observable components and sequencing the skill. Some skills can be observed and recorded in a daily journal or log. Written tests may work for the older or able child. We must be careful not to compare our children with other children. Let us measure their progress as individuals. Measure your child against their own baseline. 6. List of resources or curriculum used for the school year including resources for outside therapies such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, or physical therapy. Schedule/Journal I have found it helpful to display our short-term objectives in a a weekly schedule/journal that I work on every Sunday afternoon. Using a master created with my word processor (to keep things simple) it can be accomplished with little time and effort. I base our daily schedule the outcomes of my brief daily evaluations for the previous week and on my vision for the coming week. I ask myself what

skills/concepts need more repetition to cement the skill/concept or look at whether or not we can move on to a new skill/concept. I've been using the same master schedule/journal format since we began formally homeschooling. Once it is set up all that needs to be done is fill in the blanks! For each day I list: 1. Subject and resource/curriculum 2. Objective 3. Brief evaluation 4. Skill/Concept in the review cycle (unique to the child) for the subject. We do not necessarily stick to the schedule absolutely but it is our guideline for the day. Each IEP is unique for each child to meet your child's needs but you will probably find that children with Down Syndrome have common learning differences. No one IEP will be appropriate for all children with Down syndrome. The IEP process will help move your child toward maximum independence by keeping focus on your goals for the child's academic and functional growth. Developmental Inventories/Scales Children with Down syndrome usually have very scattered skills – age appropriate in some domains and delayed in others They tend to learn best when we build on the skills they have and target their interests. A developmental scale or inventory easily lets us find out where our children function and let us set goals (short-term & long-term) to aid us in their growth and development and academic skills.

I have always used the developmental inventories and curriculum available from VORT. They are most famous for their HELP (Hawaii Early Learning Profile) series. They have inventories and curriculum for all ages and stages --- even one for children with special learning needs. The BCP covers the developmental ages 1 - 14. I have been very happy with VORT through the years. I mainly use it as a tool for setting goals but

have used the curriculum to break down skills for teaching. It is a great tool if you feel the need to write your own IEP. I like to write an IEP to keep ME on track. I know other families who use The Brigance. The Brigance is a screening tool only and doesn‟t offer

help for skill development. I have to admit I found the cost of The Brigance prohibitive.

Resources Home Schooling Children with Special needs by Sharon Hensly Strategies for Struggling Learners; A Guide for the Teaching Parent By Joe P. Sutton (ISBN: 0-96456840-3) Out of print but available at many libraries. The IEP Planner by Jim and Debby Mills Helps for Special Education Teachers, Curriculum and Activities to Promote Basic Skill Development by Eileen Shaum

Resources for Goals HELP Series and Assessment Strands from VORT BCP Instructional Activities and Record Booklet from VORT (The VORT products are my favorite) The Brigance You can rent this from Homeschool Legal Defense Association Skills Evaluation by Rebecca Avery, ISBN: 1580958842, Out of print. Learning Objectives for Grades Kindergarten Through Eight, published by Hewitt Homeschooling


Chapter Seven Learning the Basics – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
I‟ve given you lots of information on how children with Down syndrome learn and resources for curricula (more in the appendices) that have been know to have success. When it comes to learning, our children‟s progress is quite dependent on our methods of teaching. Teaching to the child‟s learning strengths, using errorless learning – especially in the early years - will lead you on the path to learning success. For emphasis, I‟ll repeat what has been found to be important in working with children with Down syndrome: Visual aids in the form of pictures, drawings, text, manipulatives, and/or sign language. Hands on activities work well for young learners Errorless learning/teaching is essential for successful learning experiences Language - use language they know and specifically teach new vocabulary Scaffold skills - build on what they know, scaffolding in new skills/concepts Break down skills/concepts into more manageable chunks Practice step until mastered. Anticipate spending more time on each skill/concept than with a typically developing child Repetition - frequent repetition necessary for consolidating skills Review of skills/concepts Positive attitude - bring a positive attitude to the learning environment. Application of these methods will lead you and your child to growth in skill/concept development, knowledge

Reading is a relative strength for children with Down syndrome. Given their visual nature, they often find early success in sight word reading. Success in reading is associated with advances in cognitive ability, vocabulary, grammar and visual and short-term memory. Despite those wonderful benefits we should teach reading for the sake of reading itself. Reading contributes greatly to functional competence and will provide pleasure throughout the individual‟s lifetime. There is a profile within the typical learning profile (strengths and weaknesses) for children with Down syndrome for reading. Reading profile for children with Down syndrome: Strength Word identification Weaknesses Word attack (decoding) skills Comprehension I‟ll go into more detail on reading and Down syndrome in the next chapter.

The acquisition of math skills is known to be difficult for children with Down syndrome. They do far better in acquiring reading skills than with math skills. DeAnna Horstmeier, Ph.D., author of Teaching Math to People with Down Syndrome and Other Hands-On Learners, found her adult son with Down syndrome was more handicapped by his deficits in math than any other factor! So, what are we to do as homeschooling parents? There is very little research available regarding

Did you know that it is only within the last 20-25 years that attaining some level of reading ability has become a goal for children with Down syndrome? How far we have come!

math skills and Down syndrome. Our fall back is the above list! Learning math requires carefully structured lessons with skills/concepts broken down to teach step-bystep, demonstrated, and then practiced daily until the step or skill is mastered – and then the step or skill/concept should go into a review cycle. Repeated use will keep skills fresh and easily recalled. It is very important to specifically teach the language of math. The language of math can be very confusing. Look at how many ways we speak of the answers in working addition problems – in all, altogether, sum, and total. We need to be very intentional in our teaching to reduce confusion in our young learners. Children with Down syndrome learn very little incidentally – especially when it comes to math. As math becomes meaningful and useful in everyday life, the child‟s interest will grow. They will need plenty of opportunities to learn and ongoing meaningful practice.

letter a scripted plan for the letter. Every time the child practices a letter, use the same words in the same order to make the letter – a rehearsal strategy – to guide them in writing the letter. Soon they will be repeating the script and writing the letter independently! I have never pushed Reagan in her writing skills. We do it every day until I feel she has given me her best. When she gets tired, I stop. Writing is difficult for children with Down syndrome I want writing to be an enjoyable activity. I give her work that is meaningful to her everyday life to keep her interest in the skills needed as an adult. If your child finds writing to be frustrating, do consider beginning keyboarding skills early. This is a world of electronic data transfer so those keyboarding skills will be quite important to our children. Back to the Basics Learning the basics for children with Down syndrome means sticking to the basics for longer than with a typically developing child. It takes much longer (and many more learning trials) for the child with Down syndrome to progress in skill/concept development. Structured, daily instruction with lots of repetition will lift our children beyond their mental age. Older children with Down syndrome generally have mental ages that range from 4-6 years of age and adults generally have the capabilities of an average of 6-8 year old.

I once read from a physical therapist that a typically developing child has to write a letter approximately 130 times for it to become rote. Due to fine motor issues I would expect children with Down syndrome to take much longer for letter writing to become rote. Handwriting without Tears is a wonderful writing program for our children with Down syndrome. When teaching letters, give each


Chapter Eight Reading and Down Syndrome – Early Learners
Teaching Reading Early (0-3) Did you know reading and children with Down syndrome is a controversial subject? Sounds pretty benign doesn't it? Families tend to fall into two groups - those who teach reading early and those who wait until a more typical time in a child's life the elementary school years. I thought I might share what I've learned about reading and Down syndrome and explore the different options. Much of our time during infant and toddler years as parents of children with Down syndrome is generally focused on health issues. Approximately 45-50 percent of our children are born with heart defects. About another 7 percent are born with gastrointestinal defects. Many present with feeding issues. Respiratory issues are prevalent due to lowered immune response. Most of our energies as parents during those early years are focused on getting our children beyond these health issues to a healthier place for our children. During the infant/toddler years the focus of most professionals and parents is on the most obvious delays – delays in gross motor skills. Our children are normally delayed in reaching the typical milestones of the infant/toddler years. They sit at an average age of 11 months and walk on average at 26 months. Speech Therapists during the infancy and toddler years are focused on feeding skills and/or sign language skills. How many parents are counseled to begin teaching reading? I really want to encourage every parent who has a child with Down syndrome to consider beginning to teach their child to read during late infancy and the toddler years. Because our children are so visual they easily learn to read words syndrome that are meaningful (words they can say or sign) to them. In the long run, teaching reading early eases their entry into the world of literacy and gives them a great head start!

The technique is easy and only takes a few minutes a day. There is no need to buy expensive programs – all you need is a bold marker and poster board. The following method is familiar to those who use the neurodevelopmental approach and excerpted from Teach Your Baby to Read by Glenn Doman. Length of play (reading flashcards) is very short. At first it is played 3 times a day. All sessions must end before the child wants to stop. This way the child will enjoy the sessions and want to play the reading game and the parent is nurturing vs. destroying the child's natural desire to learn. Materials Stiff white cardboard (poster board) – ready made note cards are just too small. Words should be lettered w/felt tip maker – red is recommended.. Printing should be neat, clear, and have consistent plain lettering style, large letters (5 in by 4 in with 1/2 in between letters. Margins should be at least 1/2 in. all around. Printing should be lower-case letters unless the word is a proper noun. The First Step (Visual Differentiation) First words: Pick 15 words of high interest or familiar, start w/mommy, daddy, names of family members, pets, favorite foods, objects in the house, favorite activities. Sessions Pick a place with little/no distractions. Work only when the child is in a good mood. Hold up the word mommy, say "This says mommy." Give the child no ore description and do not elaborate. Hold up the next card, daddy, and repeat the process. Show 3 other words. Do not ask

your child to repeat the words. After the fifth word, give your child a hug & kiss with lots of praise. Repeat session 3 times/day, at least 1/2 hour apart. Sessions should last no more than 3 minutes. Always end the session before the child is ready to end it. How hard does this sound! Doman's book will give your greater detail on how to proceed with this method. Several people have developed materials using Doman‟s method to assist the parent in teaching their children to read including eReadingPro.

Another early reading tool for birth to age 3 – Love and Learning Though it is convenient to have ready made curriculum for reading, the cost of these programs is a bit out of reach for many families - especially during economic downturns as we are experiencing now. Doman‟s reading method is cheap, easy to use and successful!


Chapter Nine Reading and Down Syndrome – Primary Years
Elementary School Age As I‟ve said earlier, I did not have internet access when my daughter with Down syndrome was in her infant/toddler years. I did not have access to information about early reading and Down syndrome so we began teaching reading when Miss R was about 5. Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome by Patricia Oelwein was my first purchase from the Woodbine House series Topics in Down Syndrome. This book was the first book to give me insight into how children with Down syndrome learn and began my quest for more information specific to learning and children with Down syndrome As most of you know, Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome, uses a combined approach - sight words moving into phonics in the form of word families. The games used in the books are interesting and fun – a perfect method for older children. This method uses errorless learning so our children not only have fun but they are successful. Homeschooling moms tend to be purists – phonics is the only way for their kids! I had one mother say she was purposefully not teaching her child with Down syndrome sight words – which made me very sad. I want to suggest that perhaps we put our pride behind us when teaching our little ones with Down syndrome to read. Don‟t get me wrong, I‟m not suggesting that we don‟t teach phonics to our children with Down syndrome. I am saying that we need to consider that our children with Down syndrome have auditory processing issues – they have difficulty with remembering and sequencing sounds vs. remembering what they can see. Children with Down syndrome tend to have difficulty blending sounds because they often have short-term memory difficulties. Word families remove that difficulty because they learn words in chunks (visual) vs. blending letter sound by letter sound through the whole word. In other words, they struggle to read a word instead of a smooth path

with each word from beginning to end. Struggling will lead to distaste for reading and most likely lead to avoidance and behavioural issues and we don‟t want to go there! Nurturing a love of learning and keeping them successful will keep them coming back for more. Another thing I might mention related to reading are those reading readiness skills. Most are related to auditory processing issues – a definite weakness for most of our kiddos with Down syndrome. Most of our children will learn to read without them! Back to my learning profile and children with Down syndrome -- research suggests a distinct profile of areas of strengths & weaknesses within literacy skills in children with Down syndrome. This profile includes stronger word identification skill, poorer word attack skills and poorer comprehension. Obstacles for sure but not something we can‟t work on throughout their education! Again, I‟m not suggesting that phonics are unimportant, as our children get older they will use those skills to help them identify words hey may not know. Every strategy we teach them will be important to their functional competence as adults. Just be sure to keep moving forward where they are successful – for most children sight word reading while teaching phonics! An excellent sight word reading program used by many homeschooling moms (and the public education system) is the Edmark Reading Program. Edmark uses errorless learning to teach children with special needs to read – guaranteed success for most children with Down syndrome. The software version makes a homeschooling mom's life so much easier! For more reading curricula suggestions see this. A great overview of teaching reading from DownsEd is found here. While you there, take a look at their See and Learn materials.

Chapter Ten Motivation and Errorless Learning
One of the most often missed keys to overcoming obstacles to learning in children with Down syndrome is the use of errorless learning. There was a period in Reagan‟s life when I was looking for ways to lift her out of the preschool stage. I call it an era because it seemed to go on forever! This key discovery, the errorless learning technique, lifted us beyond the preschool era into the elementary phase! I would like to talk about errorless learning and the connection to motivation issues, how they impact each other and what we can do to create a more optimal learning environment for learners with Down syndrome. Motivation Reagan is, like most children with Down syndrome, extremely sensitive to failure. She hates to fail. Period. As an adolescent, she has better tools to meet failure with and works to persevere on most tasks but it hasn‟t always been this easy. I often questioned my contribution to this problem as we moved through the early learning years. As I looked back, even to infancy, there was little I could have done to prevent this sensitivity to failure. Let‟s look for a moment at our infants/toddlers with Down syndrome. Even very young children with Down syndrome meet many experiences with failure. Decreased muscle tone, common in children with Down syndrome, results in ineffectual movement. Speech and language delays, along with articulation difficulties result in ineffectual attempts at communication. Did you know that self-evaluation of competence occurs in early stages of development before the child can express themselves verbally? So, I guess it is really no surprise when we see our children develop strategies to avoid failure. Patricia Oelwein writes in her book, Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome, (pp. 23 – 25 ) as to the lengths our children will go to avoid tasks that

are too easy or too hard – from the misuse of social skills (taking advantage of the extra chromosome cuteness factor) to acting out behaviorally. Given our children‟s frequent exposure to failure they commonly have decreased motivation when learning new skills and concepts. Decreased motivation, along with inefficient learning processes (perhaps related to cognitive abilities and auditory processing difficulties) in children with Down syndrome, contributes significantly to obstacles to learning in our children. So what is a parent (especially a homeschooling parent) to do? In our experience, we began to look for ways to guarantee successful learning experiences which make for more efficient learning. How can we keep our children motivated? Give them positive, successful experiences! Success feeds motivation!

Errorless Learning Errorless learning offers our children success learning experiences without failure. It is defined as teaching new tasks by guiding the child through each step of learning a skill or concept correctly, not allowing them to fail. As the child becomes more capable, the prompt or cue can be reduced until it is not needed. The key to errorless learning is errorless teaching. Errorless teaching uses the same language – a script - with each lesson and repeating the process several times (as long as it takes) following the same steps, in the same order, using the same words while using some sort of visual input (picture or possibly sign language) to incorporate what is most often our children with Down syndrome learning strength. Hopefully, this method will develop a strong base for higher levels of learning such as problem solving with a trial and error approach. One thing I have learned along this homeschooling journey is that allowing Reagan to make a mistake encouraged

her to repeat the mistake and then incorporate the mistake or error into her knowledge base. The most familiar errorless learning technique is the matching, selecting, & naming technique taught in Teaching Reading by Pat Oelwin. Children with Down syndrome are guided throughout the process of learning new words without failure. Very successful and very exciting for the young reader! Suggestions regarding the use of the strategy of errorless learning: Be sure to have the child's attention...some children need training to attend. Use language that is understood by the child. Develop a script to use when delivering lessons. Teach any unfamiliar language using errorless teaching/learning. Target skills you want to teach. There are several developmental skills lists that will help decide what your child needs to know when. Take into consideration the child's interests. It is important to break down even the basics into small steps. Teaching the plus sign for addition requires the teacher to name the sign and the child to match, select, then name it such. Children with short-term memory problems - where errorless learning is most needed - need practice at every step. A key to learning for those children who have developmental delay, learning difficulties, attention problems, is to work only as long as it is fun and interesting. Once they reach a level of fatigue or boredom it is time to switch gears and move onto something else. Always keep learning sessions positive. The parent or teacher‟s attitude is extremely important. No matter how many times you have taught the lesson or what you mood is at the moment, keep the lesson positive and uplifting. Our attitudes are quite apparent to our children and impact learning....especially children with Down syndrome. As you may know, they are very sensitive to our moods and feelings.

If you reach a point where the child is frustrated or unsuccessful, bring the lesson back to a successful place before ending the session. Sincere, appropriate praise is important to children. Modeling is important to many the child how to complete the task. For example, hand washing has many steps and will need much practice for many of our children to complete independently. Sometimes physical support is necessary...hand over hand for skill development. Don‟t forget to fade the support, prompts and cues with success. Patience, patience, and more patience is needed for teaching our children with special needs. If I child does not appear to be getting it then often times it is not their fault...or the teachers! So many factors can impede the learning process...memory issues, processing issues. Sometimes their development is just not at the right place for learning a concept and can be returned to at a later date. I have been amazed when returning to a concept that I put aside for lack of progress only to find that somehow something clicked and Reagan has incorporated the concept! Errorless learning can be used with very young learners to the more sophisticated of learners. It can be applied to most concrete learning. Some examples would be: Learning colors Learning letters Learning letter sounds Sight words Math concepts Learning numbers Money Skills Telling time "Wh" questions The list can go on & on.... Example of errorless teaching One simple example - when introducing shapes show the child a picture of a circle, use whatever

script you develop to teach such as “This is a circle. A circle has no corners.” Present the same visual and script for as many times as necessary and soon

the concept will be incorporated and you will hear your words repeated back to you!


Chapter Eleven Routines (The Groove)
The groove is so important to individuals with Down syndrome that the groove is addressed in Down Syndrome: Visions for the 21st Century, edited by Cohen, Nadel and Madnick, p. 228 "A groove is simply defined as a set pattern or routine in one‟s actions or thoughts. In the general population, this tendency may be considered obsessive-compulsive disorder but in the individual with Down syndrome, it provides them with structure and order. The groove allows people with processing disorders (common in Down syndrome) to have more control over their lives." When I first discovered the presence and importance of grooves in my research about people with Down syndrome, I noted the fine art of the groove in my daughter‟s life. The groove allows her and her very set routine to accomplish the activities of daily living, her school work and recreational time in a set order where she doesn‟t have to think about it. The groove is so common in individuals with Down syndrome it is also mentioned in Mental Wellness in Adults with Down Syndrome: A Guide to Emotional and Behavioural Strengths and Challenges by Dennis McGuire and Brian Chicoine, has devoted a whole chapter to these characteristic behaviors. Do not wait until your child is older to get this very important book. It speaks to many issues common to children/teens/adults with Down syndrome, such as challenging behaviors, autism, self-talk, memory issues and much more. The groove - routine and structure are important to individuals with Down syndrome. The groove allows them greater freedom and independence within the known routines. Individuals with Down syndrome thrive with a set routine. Routine and structure are also important to the

homeschooling household. Without a routine in our home, little would get done. Routines are important to typically developing children too! Routines are important for all of us! A few suggestions for families homeschooling a child with Down syndrome regarding routines and motivating the child to work within the routine: Develop a routine and stick to it. It is important that your child knows what to expect every day. Soon you‟ll find that your child will remind you what is left to be done. Devote yourself to the routine. Most of the distractions to our day came from the telephone. Train yourself to avoid those distractions until what you need to accomplish as far as school is complete. Make a visual for the child to refer to as the day progresses. Initially, I would just use a daily schedule. As the child understand the rhythm of the day, move on to weekly and monthly schedules. Prepare the child well ahead of time of any changes. Again, the groove. Changes in routine may cause anxiety in the child with Down syndrome. There will much less anxiety if any changes in the daily routine are talked about and placed in the weekly schedule. School is not a choice. Reagan has never known that she has a choice as far as doing her school work. It is something that happens every day. She does have choices about the less important things in her life but reading, writing and arithmetic are to be done daily.

Plan ahead. Every Sunday I take the time to plan out our week. I plan and I gather materials so that when it comes time to start our day, I‟m not running all over trying to find things while my child loses interest. Speaking of planning Plan all those necessary errands and physical/dental/therapy appointments after school hours. Make fun a priority The daily routine should consist of things the child enjoys inside the work day. Choose the right high interest materials to make learning fun. Learning should be meaningful. To keep the child engaged, learning should target the child's interests and build on what they know. New skills and concepts should be broken down

into smaller steps to build on. As the skills/concepts are practiced and consolidated, add another step. Consider rewards I know you‟re thinking food but I am not! Sincere, appropriate praise will be genuinely appreciated and will go far in keeping with the flow of the day and the child's willingness to participate. Use that wonderful parent – child relationship as a reward for you both. How about a little cuddle time on the couch with mom and a good book? Our visual learners all love a little computer time or a DVD for a good school day and a job well done. Speaking of rewards. Sprinkle rewards throughout the day as necessary. More frequent rewards may increase motivation to stay with the scheduled day.


Chapter Twelve
Visual and Verbal Memory and Down Syndrome
Growing Memory Skills in Young Learners with Down Syndrome Children with Down syndrome are well-know for their relative strengths in visual memory and their deficits in auditory (verbal) processing skills. Auditory processing is a complex issue for our children with Down syndrome. In this post, I‟m going to concentrate on the short-term auditory memory aspect of our children‟s difficulty in auditory processing. It is something tangible we can work on in our everyday interactions with our children. Let‟s take a moment to define what we are talking about: Visual Memory refers to remembering what you see Auditory Memory refers to remembering what you hear. Activities to Strengthen Processing Skills Activities for young children should be fun and engaging. When choosing activities, start with the lowest level of difficulty to gage your child's skill level. We want our children to be successful with the following memory skill builders or “games.” As you begin memory training, your child may need cues to be successful in completing tasks. They may need to learn the game so give them plenty of practice learning the games. Build to higher levels, increasing in complexity, as your child finds success. Remember, that sincere appropriate praise is a great motivator!

Visual Memory Activities Visual Memory is a relative strength in children with Down syndrome. This channel is not completely intact so working to strengthen visual memory is important. Concentration Games You will need two sets of color cards: make a sequence of two color cards (red-blue). Have the child look at these for a few seconds. Then turn the cards over. Given some other cards, she must pick out the two that are hidden. Increase to three and more colors as she is ready. Variations: Play with objects, number cards, letter cards, picture cards, or block shapes Another variation of the above game: Use one set of color cards. Make a sequence of two colors (ie. redblue). Allow your child to look at these a few seconds. Then turn the cards over. She must then touch each card and tell you orally what the card color is before turning it over to check. Again this can be played with objects, number cards, letter cards, picture cards, or block shapes. Games marketed under the trade name Memory - or make your own. This games involves pairs of pictures-shapes, letters, colors, animals etc. The cards are placed face down. Pick a card and try to remember where its match is located. Start with just a few pairs and build as skills allow. What's missing? Place 2-3 objects or pictures in front of your child. Have him/her look at the group and name each object. Have the child close his/her eyes, remove one object. Identify the missing object. Increase the level of difficulty as your child's

skill level improves. Identify what is missing from known objects drawn on paper. For example, draw a face without a nose and ask what is missing. Sequencing & pattern activities. Reproduce patterns of colors, shapes, pictures. Continue a pattern after several sets are given. Hide the peanut or some other treat. Hide a peanut under a cup. Use a set of two or three cups and your child must find the peanut after you slowly move them around. Recreate drawings from memory. At the beach or create your own "sand box" with sand or salt poured into a flat container. Draw a simple picture, letter, shape, wipe it away, and have your child recreate the drawing. Auditory Memory Activities Children with Down syndrome have deficits in short-term memory. They have a difficulty remembering what they hear which leads to delays in talking, processing spoken language, for reading and math. (1) These activities should help to strengthen verbal short-term memory skills. Repeat a sequence of two numbers given verbally, one per second. Have the child repeat what you say. Increase to three and more as he/she is able. Variation this can be played with names of people, animals, toys, verb words, and letters. Note: When my daughter was young we found repeating numbers to be confusing to her. She had difficulty ordering numbers in the proper sequence for what seemed to be a long time. We only played auditory memory games with the variations found above. Verbal Commands. Place some toys in another room. Tell the child to get the doll. The child has to hold the command in her memory and bring back the doll. If she can do one toy, tell her two toys to bring back.

Given three pictures, you verbally tell the child what order to put them in. Tell the child to clap his/her hands. Then give her two commands to do (clap and jump) Work up to giving her a sequence of three things to do. If the child can draw, tell him/her to draw items. Keep them simple at first: a red ball, a green square and so on. Increase in complexity over time. The child will have to hold the instructions in their memory as they complete the task. Repeat a series of sounds: Clap, Clap increasing in number with success, ie. Clap, Clap.....Clap Create an obstacle course in your house or outside! Describe the way you want your child to go through the course in 1, 2, or 3 parts depending on his/her developmental level. For example, go around the chair, jump over the pillow, crawl under the table. Act out simple stories/nursery rhymes. Read a simple story or nursery rhyme and act it out or have him/her tell it back to you sequentially. You may have to break the story down after reading it to your child until his skills increase. Play the shopping game. Ask the shopkeeper (your child) for a series of food items. Begin with one or two and work higher as he/she progresses. Let them help you remember your list when you visit the grocery store. Treasure Hunt. Have your child retrieve a series of "treasures" from another room. Sequence activities of daily living. Repeat the activities of the day or an activity with several parts and have your child "help" you with what comes next. This will seem quite natural when relaying the days events to daddy over dinner. Helping around the house. When preparing dinner have your child get a list of needed items i.e. salt, pepper, napkins, for the table. Repeat the series as needed to encourage success. Repeating sentences. Start with simple phrases and

increase length of utterances. For example, red ball or brown chair. As skills improve-The big ball is red. The brown chair is hard. If your child hears well, make it fun and whisper. Teaching organizational skills will also help with memory skills. In the early years teach sorting by color, shape, & size. As they sort according to classification i.e. food groups, function, etc. Don't forget oddity tasks...what doesn't belong to a certain group.

For more information: 1. Down Syndrome Issues and Information, Memory Development for Individuals withDownSyndrome by Sue Buckley and Gillian Bird 2. Early Communication Skills for Children with Down Syndrome by Libby Kumin

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Note on long-term memory: It is interesting to note that the long-term memory of individuals with Down syndrome is relatively unaffected. Once skills/concepts reach the longterm memory they are rarely lost. Individuals with Down syndrome retain information that is meaningful (autobiographical memories) and what is drawn directly from their life – both stored in long-term memory. At issue for children with Down syndrome is the instability in learning and getting concepts from short –term memory into long-term memory.


Chapter Thirteen Down Syndrome and Challenging Behaviors
If you are a parent with a child with Down syndrome, you might know our kiddos show higher rates of challenging behaviors than their typically developing peers. Challenging behaviors common to children with Down syndrome include wandering, attention difficulties, inappropriate social behaviors, noncompliance, and compulsive behavior. Did you know that many children with Down syndrome do not respond to typical parenting styles? As parents, we often use negative consequences (time-out, spanking, punishment) for inappropriate behavior. In many cases, using negative consequences with the child with Down syndrome can exacerbate behavior issues! Reagan was one of these kids. Like many children with Down syndrome, she has quite the delightful personality. She is kind, thoughtful and affectionate most of the time. She is right there when someone is in need to offer her love and support. I don't think she has a malicious bone in her body but we have faced many challenging behaviors. Challenging behaviors in children with Down syndrome tend to be complex in nature - related to processing/language difficulties, fear of failure/motivation, cognitive issues, lack of choices, etc. For Reagan, the most challenging behaviors stem from her highly stubborn nature. I think every parent of a child with Down syndrome deals with what appears to be an exaggerated stubborn streak. Negative consequences did nothing to change her patterns of behavior. As a homeschooling parent, I took our discipline issues very seriously. After all, without control of challenging behaviors and discipline (on all parts) we cannot effectively educate our children at home. Reducing challenging behaviors had to become a priority if we were to continue on our homeschooling journey.

In my research, I found that children with Down syndrome respond better to positive behavior supports which encourage appropriate behaviors. Little things like sincere praise, positive attention to appropriate behaviors, and rewards made a huge difference in effecting changes in behavior. My parenting patterns had to change to effect changes in Reagan‟s behavior. I had to be much more creative in parenting this child to make our home environment more conducive to learning and her behavior outside the home socially acceptable so that learning and social opportunities were more available to her. I learned about looking at behavior in the context in which it occurs. I learned about A-B-C (Antecedents – Behavior – Consequences) patterns to look for ways to effect changes in behavior. I learned that ridding a child with Down of problem behaviors often takes more learning trials than it would with a typically developing child. I learned that you must teach the child exactly what you expect. Most young children with Down syndrome learn little incidentally (by example) appropriate behavior must be explicitly taught and modeled. Skill building vs. trial and error which can lead to frustration and even embarrassment! The younger child may benefit from a pictorial guide to refer to when placed in known difficult situations as a reminder of what is expected. In the school age child, social stories are often used to teach social skills to children with special needs but can be adapted to address challenging behaviors in the child with Down syndrome. They are easy to create on a word processor and can be tailored to the unique needs of the child. I also ran across a book that I recommend to every parent with a child with special needs, Steps to Independence, Teaching Everyday Skills to Children with Special needs, by Bruce L. Baker and

Alan Brightman. This book not only speaks to skill development but has several chapters devoted to behavior and positive behavioural support. The book does not specifically target children with Down syndrome but I have found it to be an invaluable resource! At 14, Reagan understands negative consequences and I use them effectively as necessary. In the real world there are negative consequences for inappropriate behaviors so she finds them at home too. I think maturity has made a huge difference in her ability to understand the consequences of her behaviors and increase her compliance. Educating Reagan at home has been quite beneficial in ridding her of challenging behaviors. She is in an environment where behavior issues can be dealt

with immediately and consistently. As she has matured and her language comprehension increases, we can discuss various choices she has as she problem solves and the consequences of her actions. She gets plenty of time out in the community - more opportunities for working on developing proper behavior and social skills. At times it has been exhausting - especially in the early years - but definitely well-worth every ounce of effort! She is growing into a lovely young lady. Reagan, like most of us, is still a work in progress. We continue to work on appropriate behaviors and social skills in the home and around the community. It is said that good behavior and social skills are the keys to success for adults with Down syndrome so we continue working to become the best we can be!


Chapter Fourteen Homeschooling and Down Syndrome – “The Reluctant Learner”
The Homeschooling Parent
Children with Down syndrome aren‟t really reluctant learners but it may seem that way especially in the early years of their lives. What may appear to be reluctance or resistance is just the way they try to deal with the complexities of life with Down syndrome and the obstacles they face in learning. Over the years I've had quite a few questions on this issue. I would like to share a few tricks of the trade. Little things that have helped me that might help you. Some are quite obvious but some thought given to the obvious may garner some new insights as to the importance of what is obvious and how it plays into the homeschooling environment. Children First Children with Down syndrome are children first. Children are fun and like to have fun. They are silly and playful so why not play along! My experience with a child with Down syndrome is that there is more fun with the extra chromosome! The learning environment should be filled with interesting and engaging materials that help make learning FUN! The Parent As homeschooling parents, we may be overwhelmed by the obstacles to learning our children with Down syndrome face. I‟m here to tell you its all about baby steps. – your own and the child‟s. Homeschooling a child with Down syndrome is not that hard – it just takes time and effort to learn how the child learns, what obstacles they face and then implement what you have learned into the child‟s learning environment. You will learn together to make your home the best learning environment for your child! Educate Yourself Be educated and informed. My archives hold a great deal of information on homeschooling and Down syndrome. The sidebar to the right has many useful links. The Riverbend Down Syndrome Support website is full of research related to how children with Down syndrome learn and also quite a bit of information on homeschooling children with Down syndrome. Commitment We all go through a research phase when considering homeschooling our children with Down syndrome. It is usually a time filled with anxiety – very normal! We wonder if we are capable of this huge responsibility. You are! Once the decision is made to choose the homeschooling option, commit yourself fully to it. Our children will sense if we are just experimenting and not fully committed. Our Approach Are we approaching homeschooling our child based on their needs? When I was in the research phase, I feel in love with a literature based method of homeschooling. Soon I found out that approach would not be best for Reagan. She does not learn well from listening due to auditory processing issues. So I switched my thinking and approach to best suit her learning needs. As you know, children with Down syndrome are visual learners. All information given verbally should be paired with a visual – gesture, sign, flashcards, picture cues, the written word etc.


Our Attitude Our attitude is so important to the learning environment. Our attitudes are contagious! If we approach our day and school hours with a positive outlook and enthusiasm our children will too! I am by nature a quiet, reserved person. Though I do tend to look at life with a positive outlook, Reagan demands more of me. She has turned me into a rather loud and boisterous cheerleader! We feed off of each other in our excitement and love for learning. The Parent – Child Relationship A warm, loving relationship between the parent and child is essential in the homeschooling environment. Nurture this and many of your battles are won! Children with Down syndrome tend to be very sensitive to the feelings of others. Reagan is no different. She wants to please me Latent Gifts? Homeschooling moms might discover a few latent gifts! Homeschooling may develop some

underdeveloped gifts waiting to blossom! Patience Doesn't every parent pray for more patience? Homeschooling a child with Down syndrome requires patience. Learning often takes longer and requires many more learning trials than with typically developing children. Just remember that as you tire of teaching a skill/concept they are just beginning to get it. The joy that follows when a new skill is accomplished or a new concept is consolidated is glorious! Creativity Don‟t let your perceived lack of creativity stop you from considering homeschooling! I don‟t consider myself the creative type but am surprised over and over again by what is delivered to me (from above) that which is needed to get a concept across! New avenues of delivering more abstract material appear with perfect timing. Next, I'll focus on the "reluctant" learner with Down syndrome.


Chapter Fifteen Homeschooling & Down Sydrome – “The Reluctant Learner”
The Child
In trying to discern what difficulties there might be in the learning environment which might result in reluctance or resistance, I always ask myself or might ask you the following questions: Health Are they feeling well? A child who is not feeling well is not receptive to learning. A child who does not get sufficient sleep will not be receptive to learning. Are their eyes and ears healthy? Vision and hearing problems are common with Down syndrome and a great impediment to learning. Attention to these potential problems is needed with annual (minimum) physical exams. Motivation Is motivation a factor? Children with Down syndrome are known to have motivational issues when compared to typically developing children of the same age. From the time that our children with Down syndrome are born, they work hard to learn the skills they need – harder and longer than typically developing children. They are familiar with failure and need to be supported in learning with errorless teaching/learning to feel successful. Is the child bored? Young learners with Down syndrome thrive on material given at a fast pace in an engaging manner. Keep it FUN! Is the work provided close to the child’s developmental level? Working closely to his/her developmental level will make her feel successful and involved...and motivate her to come back for more! Attention Are attention deficits a contributing factor? Attention deficits are common in young learners with Ds. Incrementally increasing time and attention to task is worth the time and effort inside and outside of formal schooling is well worth the time and effort. Is it hard for the child to sit still for learning? Alternate seat work with fine and gross motor activities. Keep any seat work meaningful. Lessons should be fairly short and fast paced. Keep the fun factor high! Combining physical movement with learning can be quite helpful and enjoyable. A friend of mine did “ball school” when her son with Down syndrome was young. He practiced sight word reading while bouncing a ball. This markedly increased his ability to learn new words. Learning Profile Children with Down syndrome have a known profile of strengths and weaknesses to consider in the homeschooling environment. Am I teaching to my child’s learning strengths? Children with Down syndrome are primarily visual learners. Therefore, material presented should be accompanied by a visual aid. What about processing deficits? Children with Down syndrome frequently have auditory processing difficulties. This makes learning by listening difficult. Again, visual cues are of the utmost importance. Am I using language the child understands? As parents, we have a greater understanding of the

words our children understand. We know they understand far more than they can express. New vocabulary should be specifically taught and clearly defined. The Learning Environment Are their any distractions? Is the house free from noises from the television, radio or adults or other children talking? Children with Down syndrome are easily distracted by noise and even visual stimuli. The Learning Table Learning does not necessarily happen at a table. In fact, much does not but I will refer to lesson time as work done at the table. Is the work meaningful? Am I building on what the child knows – scaffolding new skills on top of what has been consolidated? Is what they are working on to easy or to hard? Early learners with Down syndrome should be working close to where they are functioning on the developmental scale you are using – again, building on skills they already have. Am I breaking down the task/concept in to smaller bits so that the child can understand the task/concept? With many concepts/skills, we have had to break them down into smaller steps and spend extra time on them. Breaking down skills/concepts gives meaning to the task as each step is mastered. Am I providing enough repetition for the mastery of skills and concepts? Frequent input and plenty of review are the keys to consolidation of learning. Am I giving them enough practice at new skills and concepts? Often a wide variety of materials, rotated throughout the week to reinforce new skills/concepts are necessary to consolidate learning. Am I taking into consideration the child’s interests? In bringing the child‟s interests into the learning environment, the most mundane of tasks

takes on interest. Is the curriculum a good fit? Concept oriented materials with a hands-on, visual approach works best for the early learner with Down syndrome. Challenging Behaviors Are behaviors getting in the way of learning? Often times, challenging or inappropriate behaviors are clues that you need to switch gears. Change the subject. Change the venue. Go for a walk but keep the child engaged! Normal childhood naughtiness or the avoidance behaviors (cute but socially inappropriate behaviors) common to children with Down syndrome can disrupt the learning environment. Think about positive behavioural approaches vs. the more common parenting approaches which include punishments that are ineffective. Sometimes behavior challenges are of a more serious nature. If so, those behaviors can be the greatest obstacle to learning a child with Down syndrome faces. If necessary, seek professional support. Previous Learning Experiences What previous learning experiences has the child had? Has the child been removed from the system recently? Was their previous learning environment traumatic? You wouldn‟t believe the stories I‟ve heard from families who have removed their child from the public school system. The general rule of thumb for homeschooling families is that the child will need a month for every year in the system or adjust (some say recover) to homeschooling. I think it is safe to say a child with cognitive impairments will take longer. In Closing What seems to be reluctance or resistance on the part of the learner with Down syndrome can be the result of many complex issues – none of which are insurmountable. Persistence on you part will pay huge dividends!

Chapter Sixteen Homeschool Burnout
If you are considering homeschooling, we might as well discuss burnout. Late January and February bring me to a place where I feel totally uninspired – also known as burnout. I know I‟m not alone. Many homeschooling moms experience a sense of burnout this time of year. What is homeschool burnout? Perhaps life is not quite so enjoyable. In fact, you might find all your emotions rather muted. Irritability is common. Also feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, discouraged or possibly even depressed are known symptoms. Symptoms will vary with each individual. The key is to be aware of the likelihood of its occurrence before it impacts the family and your homeschool. What contributes to this sense of burnout? Burnout is a nasty place to be. The remedies: For us northerners who face shorter, cloudy days, bitter cold, ice and snow, the weather plays a big part in our feelings of isolation from others. It is just a reality that social gatherings and field trips decrease because of the weather. We‟ve got half of the school year under our belts. Most of the homeschooling moms I know see this time as a time that we question what we have chosen to do with our children. We question our goals and the effectiveness our role as homeschooling mothers. We question the effectiveness of our choices. We ask ourselves questions and ruminate beyond the necessary and useful point. Are we doing enough? Are we meeting our goals? Do we need to make changes? Most homeschooling mothers have high expectations for themselves. They often find there is never enough time in the day for all they want to accomplish – with school, parenting, discipline, laundry, cooking, cleaning etc. Homeschooling is a very task-oriented lifestyle lending itself to burnout. 1. Anticipate burnout. Burnout is common in homeschooling moms. Anticipate it and you‟ve almost won the battle! 2. Take a good look at your priorities. Be sure that you are in fact keeping them in the right order. -Am I spending enough time with God in prayer and with His Word? -Am I giving enough time to my husband? In giving you will receive. -Are my children‟s basic and educational neeDown syndrome being met? 3. After reassessing priorities, choose carefully where you get involved outside the home. It is common for others to think just because you homeschool you are available to meet their needs and the needs of the community during school hours. Practice saying no or I'm sorry I just can't do it -- without explanations.

Homeschooling Children with Special needs Taking the responsibility for homeschooling a child with special needs may intensify our feelings of burnout. After all, this is a huge responsibility – our efforts will impact our child's future functional competence. We don‟t have a system to rely on or blame. We often find ourselves comparing out children with others with a similar diagnosis in our own community whether it be in our homeschooling community or perhaps even a child in the school system. Are they doing better? Did I make the right choice? Would my child be better off in the system with all its supports? Burnout - What can we do?

4. Quit second guessing God. Most of us who are called to homeschool are led there by a loving Father. If He leads us here, He will provide all that we need to accomplish His goals for us and our family. 5. Remember why you homeschool. Keep your goals for your children close and in the proper perspective. Are you homeschooling to instill proper morals and values? Are you homeschooling because you believe you and your family are contributing to the need for more strong soldiers for Christ? Do you think you can provide a better education for your children than the system can provide? Do you have a child with special needs who thrives in your homeschool environment? Worthy goals - keep your eye on the prize! I've graduated one well-rounded young lady who, with her natural gifts, will contribute greatly where ever she is planted. It was worth every second! 6. Take good care of you. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take care of yourself. Eat right, exercise and get proper sleep. Your world will be a better place. 7. Don’t compare your children

emotionally spiritually ready for learning? If that is the case, then learning will occur. They may not learn all that is on your agenda for the day but they will be open to the experiences and opportunities provided. -Wake up with a thankful heart. Thank God for the opportunities that He will place before you as the day unfolds. -Pray for your children and ask God to bless your day together. -Thank God for them and the joy they bring – even when they are bickering. -Verbalize all you find in the day to be thankful for. Soon you will find your children doing the same and the joy is multiplied! 9. Learn to live with dust bunnies. One of the hardest things for me as a homeschooling mom was letting go of my need for a clean, tidy house all the time. I am a recovering neat freak. I am a recovering neat freak living with people who don‟t see what the fuss is about. They are right of course. 10. Schedule flexibility. That's right - if you are the obsessive-compulsive type like me who has a daily schedule, put a little flexibility in your schedule. Leave time for spontaneity and discover the joys! 11. Delight in the little things.

Don't compare them with each other, family members or those in the community - especially if they have special needs. This is probably one of THE most destructive thing any parent can do. Compare them only to themselves. Are they working towards goals that are reasonable and obtainable? Are they making progress? Sometimes it is essential to look at the baby steps they might be taking toward a long sought after goal to find success. Find it and celebrate it!

A cup of hot tea or hot chocolate with instructions that mama is taking a few minutes of time out and take it. My homeschooling friend, Amy, puts on her red tennis shoes every morning because they bring her a sense of delight – every day. 12. Make time for the things you enjoy and that refresh you. Whether it be a good book or a hobby - do it.

8. Work at changing your thought patterns. -If you are often finding yourself discouraged and down, try to focus on your blessings. Are you children healthy, clean, fed – physically,

13. Make a list of things to look forward to -Schedule a date night with hubby – even if it has to be in your own home. -How about a game night with the kids?

-An occasional mom‟s night out with friends. Real life friends are important. -A special dinner once a week with all your favorite foods.

15. Explore curriculum choices. Most of us have homeschooling conventions on the horizon. Take the time to get excited about next year, investigate new options/curriculum choices and make plans on where you want to spend your time in the vendor hall. 16. Seek out the homeschooling community on the internet for support. There are so many wonderful places to find support on the internet - way to many to list but you might try The Swap, The Homeschool Lounge, Heart of the Matter Online when you can't meet with your local homeschoolers for support and fellowship. I doubt you can find a homeschooler that has not experienced burnout. Let others share their ideas to get through this season.

14. Make a list of projects to take on. I usually have a winter project because we spend more time at home. Even if it is just a closet or a few drawers, it is something outside the daily routine. It makes me feel productive in a different way. Involve the kids and it will be more fun! I don‟t know if the kids will find my winter project fun – stripping the kitchen wall paper – but you never know.


Chapter Seventeen
The Homeschooling Community - Supporting Homeschoolers with Children with Special Needs
Matthew 25: 31-46

In every homeschooling community you will find homeschoolers educating children with special needs. You may not see a lot of them but they do exist. Why don’t you see them? They may not be comfortable bringing their child with special needs to events and gatherings due to social, behavioral and/or physical issues. They may be using all their available energy to meet the needs of their family and their child with special needs. They may not feel their children are accepted as fully participating members of the community. Does the homeschooling community have a responsibility to nurture and support those homeschooling children with special needs? The homeschooling community is primarily made up of Christian families. Jesus welcomed – even healed - many people with special needs. He gave them His time and attention. Why should the Christian homeschooling community be any different? Many of these families are already a part of the homeschooling community. Their children with special needs should be welcomed into the community as every other child is welcomed.

Individuals with special needs are an often marginalized segment of society. They are often excluded because they look and/or act differently. Much of society doesn‟t value those with significant needs and/or cognitive challenges. In fact, many with known genetic syndromes are aborted in utero. Babies created in His image disposed of as useless tissue! Let the homeschooling community be different. Embrace those with special needs and their families as Jesus would! What you, as an individual, can do: In every homeschooling community you will find many who would love to support those homeschooling children with special needs but aren‟t sure what they can do. 1. Acknowledge we are dealing with more than the typical homeschooling family. We acknowledge that every child is special but we do deal with challenges beyond the typical family which impact our lives, our marriages, our typically developing children and our relationships in the community. Often times, we work endlessly to find ways to meet the needs of our child with special needs and spend many more hours per day meeting that child‟s needs to helping him/her reach beyond their challenges. 2. Keep a mental list of those you meet in the homeschooling community with children with

special needs. When you meet someone who homeschools a child with special needs, ask them if they know someone you are acquainted with who also homeschools a child with special needs. Networking with others for an acquaintance can lead to invaluable support. 3. Do not be afraid to approach the family. Many people just don‟t know what to say or do. Let us lead the way for you. As you get to know the family, you will probably be surprised by the blessings they know as a parent of a child with special needs. You will discover that our lives are more than our child's diagnosis. We, as a family, are just like your family. Beyond the challenges we face, are the same dreams and hopes for our children...and we share many of the same problems. 4. Don’t be afraid to inquire about our child’s special needs Most families are quite willing to share – they live with those special needs day in and day out. 5. Do not be afraid of the child with special needs. They may look different or act differently but they are always children first. The nonverbal child will appreciate a smile, a light touch and friendly conversation – just like every other child. Some children will have „invisible‟ special needs and are also in need of your support and understanding. 6. Educate your children about our special blessings and encourage friendships. It is important for children with special needs to have friendships with typically developing children. Children with special needs learn a great deal from peer relationships. There peers will learn a great

deal about befriending those who really are more like them than different and valuing all of God's creation. 7. Include the family openly and lovingly in homeschooling group activities. Your kindness will be deeply appreciated. 8. Allow us the opportunity to educate your coop, field trip group, and/or social group on the special needs of our child. This may help others feel more comfortable with our children. We hope they will be valued for who they are and not their diagnosis…and included as fully as possible. 9. Mentoring opportunities. Older typically developing children can be of great assistance to the family homeschooling a child with special needs during group activities. Having an older buddy guide them through those activities has many mutual benefits. 10. Do remember the siblings. At times, people forget about the devoted siblings. Growing up alongside a child with special needs comes with many blessings but sometimes they need to be acknowledged for who they are individually. No one really wants to be known only as the sibling of the child with special needs. 11. Invite the parents out or over for an occasional social activity. We need to just be grownups sometimes and away from our daily responsibilities.

12. If you are so called, offer respite care on occasion.

An hour or two on occasion will provide refreshment for the overwhelmed parent. Perhaps you have a teen willing to be trained in meeting the family‟s needs. Helping with some light household tasks or entertaining a toddler will be huge for a family dealing with a child with special needs. 13. Do not feel sorry for us. We don‟t need sympathy when, for the most part, we are abundantly blessed! Most often we just need fellowship but there are episodic times of grieving for those raising children with special needs. 14. Empathy is genuinely needed at times. Offer your ear and an open heart when we do struggle. Sometimes we just might need someone to listen. Even if you can‟t truly understand, a compassionate heart might be all that is needed. 15. Pray for our families as you feel led. We all need prayer but our families may have different specific needs. What can the greater homeschooling community do? This needs to be a ministry to an often marginalized group of families. A little extra effort to support our families will go a long way. Even the small things mean so much. Don‟t expect those homeschooling children with special needs to have the time and energy to give to the greater community on a regular basis. They are too often overwhelmed by what they have been called to do – especially in the early years where they are dealing with their child‟s diagnosis, seeking answers to why their child isn‟t developing

typically, frequent visits to physicians and/or therapists, dealing with behavioral challenges and meeting the needs of the rest of their family. This is the time when support is needed most. Some other suggestions:

Acknowledge that families homeschooling children with special needs exist – then ask how you can support them. Have special needs resources in your local homeschooling library or keep of list of print resources for referral. Have links to special needs resources on the internet on your homeschooling association‟s website. Also include links to local, state and national support groups for those homeschooling children with special needs. Seek out those who homeschool children with special needs as mentors for those inquiring about homeschooling their child with special needs. Print an occasional article about homeschooling children with special needs in your newsletters. Think about convention support. There are many speakers available to support the homeschooling and special needs community.

I promise you will be blessed in giving a little or a lot. When you reflect God‟s love for all of His creation – especially to those with special needs – you will discover a heart more inclined to love as Jesus calls us to love. Bless and be blessed!




Appendix A Prayer for Homeschoolers with Children with Special Needs
We thank you Father for placing your special children within our care and for trusting us despite our human failings. We seek your will in training up our children to Your glory. You created our children with special needs in your image. You reveal yourself to us through your creation and your Word. Let us study all you reveal with a discerning mind, seeking wisdom with a grateful heart that allows us to know you and your plan for our lives. Specifically we pray... We always remember to put you first in our lives and lead our children to do the same. For patience when we are frustrated. For enthusiasm when teaching the same concept repeatedly. For creativity in teaching concepts which are difficult. For hope and strength when learning seems to be at a standstill - knowing that it will occur in your time. Help us to see the baby steps and rejoice in them. For positive attitudes when behavior problems overwhelm us. For wisdom and discernment when making decisions for our children. For courage to encourage independence as our children make their way in the world. May we see you in your special gift to us as we stumble, and occasionally fail, seeking your will. For comfort for those who are grieving the loss of a "normal" child and those who struggle with depression or feel overwhelmed as they see Your will for their families. That we may freely give you our sorrow, anger and grief. For others who offer an ear, a shoulder, or a discerning heart traveling alongside us in friendship. For professionals that lend a helping hand in the way of therapies as we educate our children at home. Let us remember that you alone gave them the gifts they use to guide us. Give us a discerning heart and mind to lead us towards those who are homeschool friendly. For our typical children - that they may come to understand Your will for them as it relates to their "special" sibling. For our spouses as they journey with us - may we find our hope and strength in You. As we seek your will for our precious children and ourselves, we ask for wisdom, strength, courage and discernment. Help us to always see Your loving arms beyond our early shortsightedness. Bless our homes, our lives, our homeschool gracious Lord. Let your will be done in our lives. May all we say and do glorify you - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen


Appendix B Reading Recommendations
These recommendations were compiled based on parent opinions from several e-mail lists and research into how children with Down syndrome learn to read. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions or suggestions. Reading for Children with Special Needs/Visual Learners/Down Syndrome Early Readers Bob Books Early sight word readers Rittenhouse Publications Color-coded word families Dick and Jane Series Sight word books with repetition of frequently used words Wilbooks Inexpensive readers with repetition Readers for Children with Special Needs Greenhouse Publications Interactive sight word readers Special Reads for Special Needs Sight word readers Down Home Learning Sight word readers taught on 3 levels - created by a parent of a child with Down syndrome. Love and Learning Sight word program – video/DVD Software Developing Child A flash card sight word program for early learners Flashcards from Geddes Productions Flashcard program that can be customized

Essential Skills Sight words and phonicsEdmark Reading Program Level One and Level Two Sight word reading curriculum for children with special needs. Flash Series Reading Curriculum for Children with Special Needs Edmark Reading Program Reading (sight word) curriculum for children with special needs. Reading Milestones Reading Curriculum Designed for Children with Down Syndrome See and Learn From The Down Syndrome Educational Trust – Online program in pilot phase. Cataphonics Phonics program developed by a mother to a child with Down syndrome Special Reads for Special Needs Sight word readers created by a parent with a child with Down syndrome. Down Home Learning Sight word readers taught on 3 levels. Created by a parent of a child with Down syndrome.

Love and Learning Sight word program – video/DVD Special Offspring Series Developed by a parent with a child with Down syndrome

POPS Resources Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County Online literacy and math activities to download. eReadingPro

Video/DVD Reinforcement LeapFrog Your Baby Can Read Cueing - Another Visual Aide Visual Phonics Cued Speech Tucker Signing Strategies Other recommendations for visual learners Fletcher‟s Place Picture Me Reading Resources For teaching children with Down syndrome to read: How to Teach Your Baby to Read by Glenn Doman Successful method for children up to 3 years of age Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome by Patricia Oelwein Reading program for children of typical school age The Development of Literacy Skills in Children with Down Syndrome: Implications for Intervention Margaret Snowling, Hannah Nash and Lisa Henderson

Developed for Typical Learners, Used with Success in Some Children with Down Syndrome Hooked on Phonics Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons Phonics based Your Baby Can Read Sight word program Thrass Jolly Phonics Reading Reflex Online Reading Programs Starfall Early reading based on word families Online Picture Symbols - Visual Aides in Reading Do 2 Learn A wealth of picture symbols Beyond Autism, PECs, pictures, icons pages A compilation of sites for picture symbols Picture Symbol Software Boardmaker PixWriter Writing With Symbols Picture It Overboard


Appendix C Math Curricula Suggestions
Math skills are difficult for most children with Down syndrome. A great place to start in your research about number skills and Down syndrome is found in Down Syndrome Issues and Information - Number Skills Development. It is now online and free! The following list is a compilation of resources used by parents with success for children with Down syndrome. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions or suggestions.

Math Resources
Finger Math Also known as Chisenbop or Chisan-Bop The Complete Book of Fingermath, Edwin M. Lieberthal, Fingermath International, ISBN: 0070376808. Tutorial Teacher intensive – long learning profile but successful. TouchMath Kumon Math If you have a Kumon Center near you, take advantage of their expertise! Teaching Math to People with Down Syndrome and Other Hands-On Learners Book One and Book Two By DeAnna Horstmeier, Ph.D. Numicon Recommended by The Down Syndrome Educational Trust. Can be purchased through their store in the USA. Mastering Mathematics Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County Math-U-See Developed by a father who has a son with Down syndrome Shiller Math Montesorri- based learning Software Reinforcement for Learning Math Master Essential Skills Video/DVD Mathtacular K level math concepts Backyard Math with Zac First grade math concepts Dr. Finkle‟s Math DVDs and CDRs Online Math Activities to Download


Appendix D Curriculum Resources
This list came about from a need to find solutions to my daughter‟s learning problems. I needed to search outside the world of homeschooling and delve into special education materials. I have included a few homeschooling companies that have useful materials for children with special needs.

Curriculum Resources
Bob Jones University Press Adapted curriculum for children with Down syndrome at the K4 & K5 levels of learning. Send me an email for further information. Remedia Publications PCI Education Attainment Company Bright Apple Special Education Nasco Steck-Vaughn Handwriting Without Tears Writing Program Mastery Publications Math, language, writing programs Different Roads to Learning Curriculum, flashcards, software, games mainly targeting children w/autism but good for all visual learners. Resources for Information Special Needs Project Brookes Publishing Woodbine House Educational Materials, Manipulatives Educational Insights Bargain Hunting Don't forget to check for bargains! I've found some great bargains below. Book Closeouts


Appendix E Software Recommendations
As we all know, children with Down syndrome are primarily visual learners. Software can be a fun way to make learning meaningful and reinforce skills. This list is just a starting point and complied from recommendations by parents with children with Down syndrome.

Software Recommendations
Edmark Software - now at Riverdeep Broderbund The Learning Company Laureate Learning Systems Educational Software for children with special needs. Very pricey but some programs may help pay the costs. They are willing to send a software demo. Dorling Kindersley Educational software LinguiSystems New line of software for speech, language and communication issues. IntelliTools For children with special needs. Different Roads to Learning Targets children with autism but good for all visual learners. BloomingKids Variety of software for children with special needs Earobics Help for auditory processing All-In-One-Language-Fun No longer available from the distributor but can be occasionally found on ebay Reading software Love & Learning Reading Software Developing Child A flash card sight word program for early learners Flashcards from Geddes Productions Picture/word flashcards - can be customized Essential Skills Wide variety of educational software Edmark Reading Program Reading (sight word) curriculum for children with special needs. Lexia Learning Phonemic awareness, phonics and decoding skills Flash Series Sight words and more! Math Software Math Master Learn basic counting skills, addition and subtraction Touch Money Picture Math Birdrock Software/DVDs Affordable software,


Reviews Here is a good place to check out reviews for software before you purchase: Software Reviews

Be sure to shop for bargains! Often times a good bargain can be found on eBay.


Appendix F Resources for Speech, Language and Communication
Speech, language, communication and auditory processing issues are almost universal in children with Down syndrome. As a homeschooling mom with a child with Ds, I'm very interested in learning all I can about how to help my daughter deal with these issues. While we do use a professional speech therapist, I supplement what our therapist does with resources I've found with the companies below and thought I would share. Speech, Language and Communication Resources Pro-Ed, Speech, Language & Hearing Catalog ECL Publications LinguiSystems Great Ideas For Teaching Laureate Learning Systems Super Duper Publications Janelle Publications


Appendix G Resources - Homeschooling and Down Syndrome
These resources will educate the homeschooling parent about Down syndrome, their unique learning needs to deliver targeted interventions, and take the mystery out of therapies.

Gross Motor Skills in Children with Down Syndrome by Patricia C. Winders, P.T Fine Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome by Maryanne Bruni, BScOT Teaching Math to People with Down Syndrome and Other Hands-On Learners by DeAnna Horstmeier, Ph.D. Book 1 and Book 2 Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome by Patrica Oelwein Mental Wellness in Adults with Down Syndrome by Dennis McGuire, Ph.D. & Brian Chicoine, M.D. (not just about adults) My ebook Homeschooling Children with Down Syndrome compiles much of the information and research available - one stop shopping and it's free!

Websites The Riverbend Down Syndrome Association A wealth of information about how children with Ds learn and a homeschooling folder. The Down Syndrome Educational Trust Publishes research about Down syndrome from around the world. Books and other Materials Down Syndrome Issues and Information Effective Teaching Strategies for Successful Inclusion: A Focus on Down Syndrome, published by the PREP Program The Source for Down Syndrome Written by Catherine I. Chamberlain & Robin M. Strode Early Communications Skills for Children with Down Syndrome by Libby Kumin, Ph.D. Classroom Language Skills for Children with Down Syndrome by Libby Kumin, Ph.D. Helping Children with Down Syndrome Comminicate Better by Libby Kumin, Ph.D., CCCSLP (ages 6-14)