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Homeschooling a Child with Down Syndrome
Homeschooling Resources, Price Information, Materials and Level Assessment for Children with Down Syndrome
When I began considering homeschooling my child with Down syndrome, I immediately found myself in need of legal information. I needed to know the homeschooling laws in my state. I joined several online email lists, where the members promptly helped me learn what I needed to do to legally to homeschool.
Once that part was over, the next step was to find curriculum. That is no easy task! There are a huge number of educational programs available to homeschoolers. I've spent a great deal of time researching the curriculum to see if it would meet the needs of my children with Down syndrome. I've put my reviews of these curriculum programs in this lens in addition to these two common questions, "How Much Does It Cost?" and "What Level Is Right for My Child?"
A Parents Review of Hand Writing Curriculum for Kids with Down Syndrome
The handwriting without tears program begins with simple writing strokes in the pre-k program. Kids practice making lines up, down, left, or right as instructed. The pre-k program also focuses heavily on learning colors and other concepts beyond handwriting. Wooden blocks are used to introduce the lines and curves of each letter.
The kindergarten program focuses on capital and lowercase letters and numbers. By the time this level is mastered, children will know the proper way to make their letters.
Cost: $15.00 - $100 per grade level
Buy |More Review of HWWT
You can print free practice writing worksheets (see free worksheets at the bottom) and use them to practice writing letters in the correct form and spelling words at the same time. I've noticed kids need to transition from the boxes on the Handwriting Without Tears worksheets to lines and the printable handwriting practice helps with this.
A Parent's Perspective on Homeschooling Resources for Reading
Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome
This book is part of the Down syndrome series published by Woodbine House. It gives important information on how how children with Down syndrome best learn to read, obstacles they may encounter and how to overcome them. This is NOT a resource that will provide you with actual worksheets. Instead it gives you techniques for incorporating learning into daily activities and explains the methods to make the materials that will be needed for the lessons. The appendix does contain some resources that can be copied for games, flash cards, and activities. This book will take your child from beginning reading through adulthood.
Provides worksheets and lessons for children learning phonics and beginning reading and spelling.
This is a full reading program with teacher's guide, student workbooks, and learning accessories, such as flash cards and pictures.
Phonics and Letter Sounds
When I began homeschooling my kids with Down syndrome, they were both in 4th grade. One child knew the alphabet and could associate sounds or words with all the letters. The other struggled to learn the alphabet, knowing about 1/3 of the letters. We started the "Get Set for the Code" & "Explode the Code" series and it was unbelievable how much it helped them. It helped one child reinforce letter sounds well enough that he began reading CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words. The other is making a lot of progress with his alphabet as he learns letters by associating sounds with them. This is amazing to me as we'd been struggling with letters for 5 years. Most importantly both boys enjoy it. The worksheets are repetitious, but they don't notice. They are constantly feeling good about their work, as they are able to successfully complete every worksheet without struggling. We bought other phonics programs, but this is by far my favorite. I highly recommend it.
*Get Ready for the Code - Book A explores consonants b, f, m, k, r and t
*Get Set for the Code - Book B explores consonants p, j, h, s, n and d
*Go for the Code - Book C explores consonants c, l, g, w, y, v, z, q and x
*Ready Set Go - Picture Letter Cards picture cards with words exploring the consonants in the previous 3 books.
*Explode the Code - Book 1 short vowels
*Explode the Code - Book 1 1/2 more practice of short vowels
*Explode the Code - Book 2 blending consonants
*Explode the Code - Book 2 1/2 more practice blending consonants
Cost: $5-10 per Book
More Good Phonics Programs
Edmark - Prufrock Press
Hooked on Phonics
Teaching a Child with Down Syndrome to Read with Rhyming
After a child has learned all the letter sounds, they need learn whether the sound occurs at the beginning, end, or middle of the word. The "Explode the Code" series above introduces ending letter blends in book 2. Rhyming also helps to introduce ending letter sounds. LakeshoreLearning.com has some very useful tools including the "sliders" seen in the photo for dissecting the parts of a word.
Also, helpful will be robot talk, or saying each letter separately "c"..."a"..."t," then moving them closer together, "c"."a"."t," and finally "cat," to help the child understand the sounds in the word.
Finally, introducing word families is the first step to actual reading and helps the child learn that changing the first letter changes the word entirely. For example, learn the sight word "at," then add "cat," "sat," "mat," "rat." Sliders and handwriting worksheets work well for enforcing this concept.
Abstract Concepts can be Difficult for Children with Down Syndrome
My children with Down syndrome struggle with abstract concepts. It is very difficult for them to understand things they cannot see including prepositions, such as under, on, over, in, behind, above, below, top, bottom, etc. Here are some ideas for teaching children prepositions.
1. Use PECs to teach these concepts.
2. Let the child act out the descriptive word using real life objects. For example, have them put a ball under a sheet.
3. Try these preposition worksheets.
4. Take lots of pictures of everyday life and talk about them with your child that has Down syndrome. This helps bring a visual identity to normally abstract concepts.
A Parents Perspective on Homeschool Resources for Math
Cost: Kits $100 - $225 per level
Cost: Student Workbook and Teacher Manual $150 per level + Manipulatives $130
These are computer based math lessons for grades 3 - high school. They have samples available online for free.
Cost: Software for each grade level $100 - $125
These are online manipulatives. What are manipulatives? As you are teaching a child math, there are many accessories that are used. These are called manipulatives. Wooden blocks to count would be an example. This site offers all the manipulatives you could need online for free. I personal think children learn better holding and counting a block than clicking a mouse and looking at a computer screen, but if you have an activity that needs a manipulative that you don't own, this could be a very handy resource.
Resources for Kids with Down Syndrome and Other Homeschoolers
This is an online resource designed to allow children to tour the Louvre virtually!
Teaching History to Kids with Down Syndrome at Home
This website is sponsored by the US National Endowment for the Humanities. It contains pictures of the most significant events, and people, in US history.
Teaching a Homeschooled Child with Down Syndrome about Science
The ScienceA-Z website has a variety of activities to teach elementary school students about life, earth and physical science. The lessons are heavily based on books. After reading a short story, (all stories have new vocabulary identified), you discuss the story and are encouraged to make observations in your own world to support what you read. All materials used must be purchased independently. The lessons for all grade levels, (in case you are schooling more than one child) are accessible for 59.95 per year. The site also has handy information about science state standards for each grade level in your state. It also has available free book downloads that print out with a lesson to teach the book, so you can do a few free sample lessons to see if Science A-Z is for you.
There are many places online that will provide free worksheets. Here are some of the BEST. In addition to your regular curriculum, you can print off worksheets in an are where your child needs additional reinforcement.
Education.com - All subjects arranged by grade level
Lakeshore.com - Customizable handwriting worksheets. Great for practicing spelling words or word families.
Free Flash Cards
Flash Cards Come in Handy for So Many Subjects
Whether you are teaching math facts, sight words, spelling words, or science facts, flash cards come in very handy! Repetition is the key to learning for many kids. You can make your own free customizable flash cards and print them at home. Free Flash Cards
Free (Really) Lesson Plans
You can print free lesson plans here: Lesson Plans for Teachers
In addition to printing lesson plans, there are other methods to help you stay organized. There are plans available which indicate you can store an entire year of school work in a binder. (I find that somewhat hard to believe.) There is the "workbox" method where the child's activities for the next day are placed in separate boxes by subject. This is helpful for the kids because it fosters independence. They can get their own school work and see their progress based on how far through their boxes they've gotten during the day. The method I use is bookshelves and expandable folders. I keep all my homeschooling resources in a room with 5 bookcases. One shelf is designated, form current lessons. On this shelf each subject is has an expandable folder with the workbooks in it and any supplies needed for the lesson. There is no planning each night with this method, I simply open the folder each day and pick up where we left off the day before (marked with a bookmark).
Educational Games to Help Your Child Learn
The best website for children working at the pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten level. Full of free, quality online games.
Contains printable puzzles and games in worksheet format. Categorized by age level.
Online Games and free audio stories for kids of all ages.
A large variety of truly educational games organized by subject, such as science, art and math.
Tons of online logic and reasoning games such as tic tac toe.
Online Public School
Inclusion was introduced to our children with Down syndrome in the 1970s. Because children with Down syndrome have been included in the mainstream classroom for only 40 years, few studies have been done showing how mainstream education compares with inclusion. One such study was done by Buckley, Bird, Sacks and Archer. The study indicates that children included in the mainstream classroom do not excel in reading and math over their peers taught in the special education classroom. In fact, children with Down syndrome that are mainstreamed actually score a few points lower in math and reading overall. However, the socialization skills of children that have been mainstreamed far exceed those who have not. For that reason, I believe that mainstreaming children with Down syndrome in public school should be done for the purpose of socialization.
Inclusion can work if the teachers and para-educators are dedicated to modifying the curriculum. If you have a child that is included in the mainstream classroom at a public school, and little is done to modify their lesson plans, the child will not be able to understand the vocabulary of the classroom, the worksheets, or the meaning. A child in this situation will learn very little.
I have been overwhelmingly impressed by reports of just how successful homeschooled children with Down syndrome can be. Gone is the day that people do not expect kids with Ds to read, or learn math.
Another option for parents that want children to have individualized lessons, is online public school. Technically, this is not considered homeschooling because the curriculum is not chosen by the parent. However, the children do learn at home and each lesson is at the child's own level, an important benefit over standard public education. Also, the child is actually enrolled in public school, so the school system must acknowledge the child's coursework if the child ever returns to a brick and mortar public school. http://www.K12.com is one example of an online public school website. The cost is almost free. An enrollment fee around $90 is charged. Curriculum is provided for free.
Homeschool Products Cheap at Amazon - Homeschool Resources for Children with Down Syndrome
These are my favorite homeschooling books that have worked for my children with Down syndrome
Some very good advice on how to approach home schooling as a lifelong process, not a few hours a day.
- Focus on the Family
We started home schooling with the perception that it would be "school at home." Gradually, over the last several years, we have learned that "school" is not confined to a room and a time. It is a vital, growing aspect of family life.