Teaching Reading to Down Syndrome Students
It is widely recognized that children with Down syndrome have greater receptive language skills than expressive ones. In simple terms, that means that they can often understand far more than they can express in words. Learning to read can expand their opportunities for enjoyment and participation in the world around them.
If you are homeschooling a child with Down syndrome, reading may be one of your main concerns. The main thing to keep in mind when teaching reading is to use your child’s strengths to his/her advantage. By tying reading strategies to the areas your student excels in, you will experience less resistance and more positive results.
Teaching Students with Down Syndrome to Read
Because Down syndrome affects language and hearing, it naturally affects how a child with Down syndrome will acquire reading skills. Due to their innate visual learning preferences and auditory weaknesses, these students don’t always benefit from a traditional phonetic approach when learning to read. Focusing on sight-word learning, while using phonics as a supplemental skill, is often a more successful tactic.
When phonics is taught, ideally there should be a link between auditory and visual information. This allows students to access their strong visual learning style to support the sounds they are introduced to.
It’s important to keep in mind, too, that students with Down syndrome may not develop reading skills along a traditional timeline. Reading readiness can occur at any age, and skill-building may not even be linear. Literacy may be an ongoing part of life for your child instead of something that is accomplished “all at once.”
Reading Strategies for Students with Down Syndrome
Teaching reading to students with Down syndrome can be aided by the following strategies:
- Capitalizing on their visual spatial learning style by using multimedia teaching tools
- Breaking reading instruction into manageable chunks with plenty of breaks in between
- Teaching incrementally, with each lesson building on what the student has learned in previous lessons
- Keeping instruction structured and predictable
- Support instruction with game-based play
Reading Programs for Students with Down Syndrome
When homeschooling a child or teen with Down syndrome, reading program choice is critical. Simply picking the first curriculum that appeals to you could be disastrous for your child. He or she needs an approach that is individualized to maximize their unique strengths while minimizing weaknesses.
Questions to ask yourself when deciding on a program might include:
- Does it incorporate plenty of visual aids as well as visually-based instruction?
- Is it engaging enough to keep my child motivated to learn?
- Does it allow for keyboard rather than handwriting input?
- Does it use a range of activities and/or modalities to teach specific concepts?
These questions will clue you in to whether the program is a good fit for your child and give you a huge advantage on choosing a customized program. The best reading program for Down syndrome is the one that is most aligned with your child’s specific learning needs.
How Time4Learning Curriculum Helps Students with Down syndrome
One of the key things reading programs for students with Down syndrome should have is corresponding visuals. With the right teaching approach, many children with the disorder are able to learn to read successfully. Using an interactive online environment, the Time4Learning educational learning system builds and reinforces reading skills. It can be used as core reading curriculum or a supplement to other tools.
Many families homeschooling a child with Down syndrome use Time4Learning. Here’s why:
- Visual demonstrations within the lessons aid in making information understandable.
- Every subject is presented in a multimedia format and is highly interactive and engaging.
- It builds on existing skills, not just in reading, but in math, science, and social studies as well.
- It allows for placement of different grade levels in different subjects.
- New learning opportunities are introduced in a safe, supportive environment.
- Learning is balanced with fun!
Choose your subject and grade level to experience demos of Time4Learning’s interactive curriculum.
Additional Resources Related to Homeschooling a Child with Down Syndrome
Have other questions about homeschooling your child with Down syndrome? You may find the following pages helpful.