The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association is extremely proud of Michael Holdsworth becoming a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in this week’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.
The NZDSA believes Michael is the first person with Down syndrome in New Zealand to receive this kind of honour.
Michael was recognised for his decades of work for Special Olympics and his advocacy work for full inclusion of people with Down syndrome in their community in New Zealand.
NZDSA President Kim Porthouse says that Michael has been a trailblazer for people with Down syndrome, both during his education in mainstream schools and his employment with IHC.
“Michael has been a great role model and has helped to remove a lot of barriers for people with Down syndrome,” says Ms Porthouse,
“Aside from that, he is also an accomplished musician and his piano performances have been a regular feature during the NZDSA National Achievement Awards at Government House,” says Ms Porthouse, adding that Michael himself was a recipient of the National Achievement Award in 2012.


“Every person with Down syndrome and their families in New Zealand will be extremely proud of Michael’s achievements and it is wonderful to see this recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours.”
Michael represented New Zealand at the World Down Syndrome Conference in Dublin, Ireland, in 2009 to share his story of advocacy and inclusion.
He has been involved with Special Olympics for 32 years, as an athlete, advocate and as a Global Ambassador, and has been working for IHC in the library for almost 27 years, being the helpful voice at the end of line for people looking for resources.
The Special Olympics swimmer and skier says he is very honoured.
“With all the years of Special Olympics it has been the best thing of my sport,” he says.
The NZDSA President says that Michael is yet another example of the amazing things people with Down syndrome can achieve.
“More and more people and organisations are starting to realise what people with Down syndrome are capable off and what a great asset they are to their community.
“Michael has been one of the trailblazers and we are excited to see so many other young people following his footsteps.”

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The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association has launched a wonderful new resource to fill a “huge void” for health professionals when dealing with new parents of a child with Down syndrome.

“We have received overwhelming feedback from parents and whānau that the health professionals they deal with in those whirlwind first days, often do not have the information they need, so we hope that this will help both parties fill this huge void,” says Zandra Vaccarino, the NZSDA’s National Executive Officer.

Vaccarino says that new parents deal with a variety of health professionals, from their midwife, early intervention team and paediatrician to the Plunket nurse and GPs.

“Often these professionals seem to think that one of the other will have given given parents and whanāu specific information on Down syndrome, but often the parents fall in a big information-free abyss,” says Vaccarino.

The National Executive says that the Down syndrome diagnosis is a surprise for many parents so they have lots of questions and need to learn more about Down syndrome as well as navigate where and how to access  support.

“Parents are looking for answers and support, but often the first conversations are unnecessarily stressful and very upsetting, when the health professionals have no information – or worse – provide misinformation,” says Vaccarino.

The new brochure, Tips For Health Professionals, provides professionals with resources, key contacts and useful tips on how to approach these vulnerable parents in a respectful and sensitive manner.

“In many cases, doctors, nurses or other support workers will have limited knowledge of Down syndrome and may not be aware of the amazing resources and support organisations available to the parents.”

A large section of the brochure covers the language professionals are suggested to use and what phrases to avoid, as they may be considered offensive or archaic.

The brochure also includes a milestone map specifically for children with Down syndrome.

“Usually parents are given a milestone list for typical children. Having a specific Down syndrome road map will provide parents with realistic expectations about their child’s development and hopefully avoid unnecessary concerns and frustration.”

Health professionals and anyone interested in people with Down syndrome can download Tips For Health Professionals, and other resources on the NZDSA website. The resources are free to download once you have registered your contact details.

 

 

Actor Duncan Armstrong stars in a series of new videos released by the Health and Disability Commissioner and the Nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service to help people with learning disabilities think about their own experiences with using disability services and their rights under the Code.

There are five videos, each with a different story. The videos look at how Sam, played by Duncan, and his friends use disability support services and how they resolve any concerns that they have.

The videos were produced by Film for Change Aotearoa and made locally in Wellington with Wellington actors, including people who use disability services.

Each video has a closed captions option, and the closed captions and slides have been transcribed into Word documents. Deaf Aotearoa has created New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) for each video.

 

Down Syndrome International recently hosted a webinar to provide information and receive feedback about the first international guidelines for educating learners with Down syndrome.

If you missed the webinar but are interested in learning more, you can watch the webinar here.

Down Syndrome International (DSi) has developed these guidelines, using experts and existing research from around the world, to enable teachers to help their students with Down syndrome reach their full potential.

NZDSA National Executive Zandra Vaccarino thinks these guidelines are a game changer and will become an invaluable asset to New Zealand educators.

“We know that educators in New Zealand will welcome this resource as there is a great need for expert guidelines to  teach students with Down syndrome,” says Mrs Vaccarino.

“These new global guidelines have pulled together the best practices available around the world and will facilitate the realisation of the right of people with Down syndrome to an inclusive education and lifelong learning.”

New Zealander Bridget Snedden, Vice Chairperson of DSi says these guidelines have been developed to improve the availability and quality of education for people with Down syndrome around the world.

“We need to raise the expectations among educators of what young people with Down syndrome are capable of,” says Snedden who was closely involved in developing the guidelines.

To download the guidelines, please go to:

https://www.ds-int.org/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=7a4a9546-287d-49c1-8573-888319d7310f 

NZDSA Media release

The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association (NZDSA) has welcomed the first international guidelines for educating learners with Down syndrome which were released last week. These guidelines are an important document that will inform the education needs, inclusion and life possibilities of learners with Down syndrome.

Down Syndrome International (DSi) has developed these guidelines, using experts and existing research from around the world, to enable teachers to help their students with Down syndrome reach their full potential.

NZDSA National Executive Zandra Vaccarino thinks these guidelines are a game changer and will become an invaluable asset to New Zealand educators.

“We know that educators in New Zealand will welcome this resource as there is a great need for expert guidelines to  teach students with Down syndrome,” says Mrs Vaccarino.

“These new global guidelines have pulled together the best practices available around the world and will facilitate the realisation of the right of people with Down syndrome to an inclusive education and lifelong learning.”

New Zealander Bridget Snedden, Vice Chairperson of DSi says these guidelines have been developed to improve the availability and quality of education for people with Down syndrome around the world.

“We need to raise the expectations among educators of what young people with Down syndrome are capable of,” says Snedden who was closely involved in developing the guidelines.

Snedden’s own son Alex is 32 now, “and I think if we had these guidelines when he was at school then it would have made his full inclusion a more positive experience for everyone and would have increased the expectations of teachers and supported his inclusion at school”.

Vaccarino says that  the need for international guidelines has been a hot topic at the international conferences the NZDSA has attended.

“I was fortunate to attend, along with other New Zealand parents and a host of representatives from all over the world, a vital session to discuss  issues with inclusive education and to find solutions.  The outcome was the need for a document that would provide guidelines that could be used worldwide,  so we celebrate this resource that DSI has published.”

According to Snedden, Down Syndrome International sees full inclusion of students with Down syndrome as the key to successful outcomes at school and in life.

“Even in 2020, too many New Zealand schools will direct students to learning support units, essentially segregating them from the peers in their community, without fully exploring opportunities to adapt the curriculum.

“There may be good reasons to do so, but too many students end up going through school without interacting with their non-disabled peers, not giving all children the opportunity to learn from each other and the skills they need when they finish school to participate in the wider community,” says Snedden.

“We hope these guidelines can facilitate greater independence and future employment.”

To download the guidelines, please go to:

https://www.ds-int.org/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=7a4a9546-287d-49c1-8573-888319d7310f 

Media release from Associate Minister of Education Tracey Martin

Students with high and complex learning needs, as well as their teachers and parents, will benefit from a substantial increase to Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding, Associate Education Minister Martin announced today.

“Nearly $160 million will go towards helping these students by lifting their base support over the next four years, and by providing extra short-term support in response to the impact of COVID-19,” Minister Martin said.

Hon Tracey Martin

The baseline increase of $128 million over four years will support students who are ORS verified by increasing the average ongoing funded teacher aide hours per week from 10 to 13 for high needs students and 17 to 20 for very high needs students. This increase will take effect from the start of term three 2020.

The actual number of teacher aide hours allocated to individual students will be based on individual need. This will enable these students with complex needs to have ongoing support to increase attendance, participation, engagement and progression.

“In addition to this, an extra $31 million response fund will be available from now until June 2021 for schools to employ additional teacher aide support for those ORS students who need extra help on their return and transition back into school due to COVID-19,” Minister Martin said.

“After an extended period away from their learning routines due to lockdown, some students who are ORS verified may need additional teacher aide support to strengthen their attendance, participation, engagement in learning, and to reduce the stress and anxiety of transitioning back to school.

“For example, I am aware that some students’ transition visits have been delayed as a result of lockdown. The response fund will assist students in these types of situations.”

The response funding can only be used for teacher aide hours to the end of June 2021. It will enable schools to employ up to an additional 1,025 FTE teacher aides for one year.

To speed access to the fund schools will complete a simple application for their ORS verified students.

Over the more than 40 years of its existence, the Champion Centre has helped transition many children with Down syndrome into early childhood centres and schools. Some teachers have good knowledge about the needs of children; but others have questions and concerns about how best to support them in the learning environment. As a result of many conversations with teachers, the Champion Centre has developed a small booklet which it offers to early childhood centres and schools to help them understand how best to support children’s learning. Below is a sample section from this booklet to give a flavour of the information and advice being offered.

Supporting learning

Learning is rarely a straight path for any of us; but for children with Down syndrome it often seems to be particularly circuitous. Learning happens because new connections are being formed in the brain. And in the brains of children with Down syndrome forming these connections can take longer and can need more repetition and reinforcement to be maintained than in the brains of typically developing children. As a result, skills may appear and then apparently disappear, only to reappear later. Sometimes this is the result of periods of poor health or the transition to a new environment; but at other times, learning requires not just the ‘addition’ of new information but the ‘reorganisation’ of existing knowledge and this can temporarily or permanently dislodge things that have already been apparently learned. As each new skill or piece of information is learned, it is important that existing ones not be forgotten, but reinforced through activities that integrate the old and the new.

An ability to sequence and to process sequences (of words, of numbers, of activities and ideas) is at the core of learning, and children with Down syndrome find sequencing challenging. They process more slowly than typically developing children, and their challenges with memory mean they often forget earlier parts of the word, sentence, instruction, or idea by the time they reach the end. In other words, because auditory processing is poor, it does not support memory (with internal speech) the way it does for most typically developing children.

Here are some strategies that teachers and other learning support personnel can use to help children learn in the classroom:

  • Use visual schedules to help the child understand the routines of the classroom and the sequence of activities expected
  • When giving instructions or directions present them both orally and with a visual support (e.g., a picture or a written word) and make sure they are simple and step-by-step and that the child is watching, listening and attending. Be aware that children with Down syndrome may process only part of the instruction and appear to have done the opposite of what was intended (e.g., “don’t cut it” may be processed as “cut”). Alternatively, if they did not understand they may simply copy another child.
  • Help children understand the steps involved in a complex task and help them think about those steps, perhaps by saying “What do I need to do before….?” “What do I need to do next….?”, “What do I need to do after….?” In this way, they will begin to understand the structure of the task (beginning, middle, end).
  • Remember that children with Down syndrome are not as flexible in their thinking as other children and will have difficulty revising their approach to a task already learned. Where possible teach to the endpoint you want to achieve; breaking the task into manageable components.
  • Limit the distractions around the child while still keeping them as part of the classroom. Think about providing them with only the tools (pencils, ruler, etc.) that they need for the job at hand.
  • While Buddy systems are important for social connection, other young children will not understand the challenges of learning for children with Down syndrome, so limit peer teaching/learning expectations.
  • Be overt with the language of “learning to learn” is important. For example, when selecting a book it is important to talk about the concept of reading for meaning e.g. “Let’s find out what this book is about…” “What will happen next?” “What was this book about?”
  • Let them use a keyboard if they find this more effective than using a pen or pencil that requires more fine motor control that they are able to manage.
  • Make sure you know whether they are staying on task, perhaps by having them working near the teacher. Help them avoid paying attention to irrelevant details of the task.
  • Give them time to process; support them when they make mistakes; and help them achieve a sense of success and achievement.
  • Make sure they know that you care that they do their best. Give praise and encouragement and expect to repeat verbal prompts and reminders even if they have a visual prompt as well.
  • Connect with the child’s parents and make sure you have good communication so that the parents understand what the tasks of school are and can support the child to practice them at home.

Motivation for learning depends on interest and meaningfulness. Ensure tasks are meaningful and where possible, playful, so that children are engaged and motivated to participate.

The above is a section on Supporting Learning from a short booklet developed by The Champion Centre, for early childhood and primary school teachers entitled “Helping Children with Down Syndrome Reach Their Full Potential”.

The full booklet has sections on supporting language and communication, supporting learning, supporting behaviour, and supporting children as people.

A printed copy is available from the Champion Centre for $9.50, including postage, payable by cash or via direct deposit. Please contact [email protected] for more details.

In her third article on education, Margi Leech provides tips for families to get their children truly included and get the most of out their time at primary school.

Children and young people learn best when they feel accepted, when they enjoy positive relationships with their fellow learners and teachers, and when they are able to be active, visible members of the learning community.

Enacting Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles, inclusive learning communities do the right thing by learners and communities (tika), with integrity (pono) and with care and sincerity (aroha).

Some schools are following an approach, the Universal Design for Learning. You can read more about it on the TKI website (www.inclusive.tki.org.nz). The guidelines enable teachers to understand and practise inclusive education. These key features are seen in every school and provide multiple means of:

  • Engagement – the ‘why’ of learning
  • Representation – the ‘what’ of learning
  • Action and expression – the ‘how’ of learning

We know from our experience that schools and teachers are on a continuum of practising these beliefs. This information will help you in your discussions with schools especially in writing IEP goals.

Learning is an interaction between the individual and the environment and people around them. Every person is therefore a valid learner. A teacher sets the stage for each child to learn, not trying to make the child learn in the setting that suits the teacher. The learning goals need to be really clear.

I think about how I can be flexible to enable children to access their learning. (Jon Munford, Kennedy Krieger University)

With Universal Design for Learning, there isn’t just one way to do it. As we think about design in terms of what a learning environment could look like- if we just embedded that slight shift in language – we are already embedding some flexibility.

Comfort is another factor in learning. Are the children in a physically comfortable environment? Are the chairs and table heights suitable? I can also ask, “Does this work or learning matter? Do students feel motivated by and connected in this work?”

Developing relationships and demonstrating those relationships within the classroom space is important. The teacher is key in helping students to get to know one another and support positive interactions within the classroom.

So, in your discussions with your schools talk about these points and clarify how the teacher will meet your child’s needs.

In my previous article I shared activities and skills you can develop with your child before school. Many of our children begin at five knowing more than their peers. This gradually changes through the months and years that follow.

Supported learning is really paramount to enable our children to be at the same table as their peers rather than being in a separate environment. There are other factors with our little people that means that for some of the time, they do learn best in a small group in a quiet place better. In both places, explicit teaching is important.

What can I do as a parent supporting the learning?

  1. Provide a good breakfast with lots of protein to sustain their hard work throughout the day.
  2. Ask the teacher for a goal for each week to do the same at home.
  3. Use a communication notebook. Realise that a teacher may not have time to write in it every day. The classroom is a busy place!

Maths

Maths is a language enabling us to talk about and record relationships and explore patterns.

  • Play with construction blocks, building and taking apart.
  • Play with inset puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, matching outlines and filling them up with blocks or fabric.
  • Have fun with dramatic/pretend play to build the understanding of ‘how many’ and learn social skills
  • Play with measuring spoons, jugs, containers, timers, rulers, different lengths of sticks
  • To be able to do the activity below, a child would need to understand ‘same’ and ‘different’. Play these activities in a variety of ways, continuing the pattern forwards and backwards, up and down.

We compare different sizes of objects, lengths of lines, Cuisenaire rods and Numicon shapes.

Give your child experiences of matching things that are the same; match the sameness, sort out to group objects with similarities. Sock sorting is fun! Putting dishes away after they have been washed, setting the table is teaching patterns and logic.

Enjoy counting songs and books to show groups of objects. We name those groups by using words such as ‘one, two, three’. Counting is actually very complex. It’s a compilation of many thinking and memory processes.

We know that for many children with Down syndrome, they have their own version of dyscalculia which is a difficulty with maths. One characteristic is not all the numbers we know exist for them. ‘Four’ and ‘seven’ are the most common that children struggle to learn and include with the other numbers. If your teacher is insisting that your child must count accurately before they can move them on, she is unwittingly providing a block in the road for learning.

My daughter really only learned to count reliably at secondary school. There’s a lot more to maths than counting which is a life skill, not the foundation.

Teach your child these skills too:

  • Recognising a problem
  • How to solve it
  • When and how to ask for help
  • Predicting outcomes
  • Checking
  • Working step by step in a pattern

Numicon has shown to be effective for all learners. It was written when teachers discovered their bright children failing the same time the Numeracy Project was introduced in their school in the south of England. They, along with a maths expert wrote 12 weeks of activities that became Firm Foundations. In that school was a student with Down syndrome. Her maths understanding and achievement really took off. Her enthusiastic mother began the trend that is now worldwide- of taking Numicon and its success to other families.

I was sceptical at first but saw first-hand with both of my girls how wonderful this programme is. Firm Foundations along with three following books has been rewritten to support children with special and high learning needs as Breaking Barriers. It’s highly successful with research and huge evidence behind it.

Schools using Numicon in New Zealand as their mainstream maths programme are reporting a substantial increase in success across all their year levels 1 – 8 when they introduce it.

I’m particularly thrilled about this. New Zealand used to be in the top four countries of the world when I began teaching in the 1970s. Now we are at 21 and slipping. The impact on our country is already being felt in trade, industry, further education.

Here’s the sequence for beginning maths with Numicon:

  1. Making sequences of patterns.
  2. Matching Numicon shapes and pictures of Numicon. Learning the colour names.
  3. Learning about ‘bigger’, ‘smaller’ and ‘biggest’ and ‘smallest’.
  4. Putting the shapes in order.
  5. Naming the shapes by number.
  6. Making the Numicon patterns with counters and objects.
  7. Matching the patterns to the shapes and numerals
  8. Joining and separating the patterns to learn addition and subtraction
  9. Balanced to show ‘equals’
  10. Repeated addition and subtraction leading to multiplication and division.
  11. Fractions.

Numicon sets can be borrowed from Linda de Kaat at NZDSA as well as other DSA’s. You can purchase in New Zealand from Edushop and use the PARENT code to receive a discount.

The online instant HTML editor tools make a great resource that will help you a lot in your work.

There are other resources that work well for children too such as Cuisenaire rods and Stern blocks.

Reading and Writing

People with Down Syndrome are often good readers, but do not always understand what they are reading.

Research shows us that it’s best to learn the ‘picture’ of the word and at the same time learning the sounds of letters that make words. These are the ‘whole word approach’ and ‘phonics approach’.

The first step is being aware of the sound and how it’s made then linking it to a letter.

If you are working with a speech language therapist, she will take you on the journey of learning the sounds and letters in a sequence. If you don’t have a speech language therapist buy a programme such as Reading Eggs, Jolly Phonics, Fitzroy Readers, Reading A-Z Decodable Readers and Handwriting Without Tears.

These resources are multisensory and lots of fun. You will be introduced to handwriting, spelling and the enjoyment of reading as well.

There are free resources you can download as well – Letters and Sounds, Fun Phonics, Oxford Owl for Home UK, Freereading.net, Speld SA Phonic Books with excellent videos.

To bring enjoyment to reading, the whole language approach is very effective. There are many choices in New Zealand – the PM readers, Ready to Read, School Journals, Sunshine books, Oxford Owl (online) which begin with books with no words, just pictures to talk about.

The New Zealand Government has produced two series – Sound Sense and Sounds and Words. You download a booklet about the approach at www.literacyonline.tki.org.nz

Enjoy these early years at school and expect to see great progress in the first year with explicit teaching that will continue through all their years.

The online instant HTML editor tools make a great resource that will help you a lot in your work.

In her second article on education, Margi Leech focuses on taking tiny steps in the earliest stages of teaching your child.

Most parents and teachers have discovered that what they do for children with learning difficulties works for all children.

This article does not intend to be the final note on learning, or your child, but rather an introduction to approaches and strategies that have had success internationally.

Keep in mind that not all children learn the same way. You may need to try different approaches.

What does work, is taking tiny steps.

How do you eat a chocolate cake? The whole lot at once? No, piece by piece. Children with Down syndrome learn ‘crumb by crumb’.

What is learning? There are many theorists who have written about this over the years, but simply put:

A memory journey of putting together ideas and making connections between them to solve problems.

When does learning begin? Before we are born. We can hear, feel, be aware of emotions and see light. We arrive knowing about communication.

What about ‘learning’?

“All children can flourish and enjoy learning when the environment is safe with the right supports and framework or pathway to structure and organize their thinking,” says Neil MacKay in Total Teaching (SEN Books).

Our children are NOT learning disabled. They are not an educational disaster. Expect that your child will learn.

Our children are not sentenced to a life of being ‘taken care of’, being excluded and not making a contribution to our community.

Be careful, because their education will reflect whatever values you hold. You will have to sort these out before you enter the child care, early childhood centre, and school settings.

And, you will have to educate/remind all those who you meet to uphold your values if they don’t already have them. Be strong!

We know that there is a huge range of abilities of the entire population, same too with the Down syndrome population. The impact of other challenges should not be overlooked.

Some of our children will have aspects of Autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, OCD, memory and organisational difficulties. Explore these differences so that you are aware of them and can support your child. A great book to help you is: The Parent’s Guide to Specific Learning Difficulties by Veronica Bidwell. There are copies to borrow in the IHC library.

The best thing you can do for all your children of all ages is to build up their ‘working memory’.

Working memory is necessary for all learning. It is the memory that is seen when your mum is trying to call your name but calls everyone else’s first! This is now being researched and found to be very significant. The challenges to using our working memory are:

  • Distractions and noise
  • Too many requirements
  • Having to think about the activity AND concentrate on instructions
  • Instructions in sequence
  • Too many words to listen to
  • Too much to look at

Best tips: Listen, look, do, know! Touch it, see it, hear it, got it!

  • Write down your instructions on a sticky note and point to them while explaining what to do.
  • Give them something to DO. We learn best by doing. It’s known as kinaesthetic learning.
  • Give time to think
  • Repeat it exactly, immediately and later until confident. (Emily took 3 weeks to learn somethings.)
  • Whakarongo, Titiro! Mahia kia mau!

Approaches

  • Education is all about relationships.
  • Build a positive learning journey and fun times together.
  • Use multi-sensory activities to strengthen memory – seeing, doing, touching…
  • Use art, music, drama, play, games, movement
  • Be creative and adventurous
  • Keep it short – 1 minute or even less to start with
  • If you find the task too difficult, think about the little steps that together complete the task. Remember how you learned to drive a car. You probably didn’t drive down the motorway on the first day!
  • Finish with success always! You will both want to do it again later. I found the best time was as Emily was finishing her breakfast. I brought to the table what she was going to do on a tray already set up the night before.)

Strategies

  • Copying
  • Matching
  • Sorting
  • Exploring relationships (bigger, smaller…) and positions (behind, inside…)
  • Social stories

Start when your child is 18 months. The UK early intervention team starts working with children at 18 months. The activities they do are around speech and language, reasoning, problem-solving to find, fix, match, sequence and sort. Look at the great supports on: https://www.portage.org.uk/support/resources/parent-list/317

  • Reading books together
  • Talking about pictures in books, newspapers, magazines, social media
  • Singing rhymes and songs
  • Cultural music activities (poi, haka, hula…)

Begin the activities below from 3 or 4 years of age.

Here are websites to explore with lots of fun activities.

Little Bins for Little Hands
Fun Learning For Kids
Oxford Owl

Reading, spelling and writing

Many people have studied how our children learn and there are some great programmes available.

Teach letter sounds and names, writing his/her name with slim chalk, then pencil. Explore these programmes:

Handwriting Without Tears – preschool and school – book and app activities.

See and Learn and all the apps and programmes from Down Syndrome Educational

Letters and Sounds – children learn to read and spell at the same time. Mona McNee has a son with Down syndrome. She taught him using phonics. Her programme is now used throughout the UK with support from the government (http://www.letters-and-sounds.com/) and is available for free from her website: http://www.phonics4free.org/home

ADSA also has some of the resources in the library and are available through me. [email protected]

Use readers that have been written to help children learn to read. These are decodable readers. You can download these from Reading A-Z. There are also Fitzroy Readers.

Also choose readers that help children enjoy the language of reading. These readers are:

PM Readers available from: Cengage. Begin at the Magenta level.

Ready to Read from schools (Jodi Wickstead, one of our mums is the graphic designer!)

Joy Allcock resources

Jolly Phonics

The Learning Staircase

Maths

This is more difficult for children with Down Syndrome because so much is abstract and has special language. Remember that Maths is all about patterns and relationships which our children are good at.

Rhonda Faragher’s research on people with Down syndrome and their mathematical thinking showed that a majority have dyscalculia (the maths version of dyslexia) – their own version.

Create patterns with objects you find on the beach, in the park, in the kitchen, with food on your plate!

You can download great beginning activities from www.numicon.co.nz – Resources and Free Downloads for patterning, sequencing and counting.

Counting – is really hard. There are five thinking processes to remember and coordinate when counting. Some children may not learn for years or never count, but they can still learn maths which is more than counting. Follow these steps to begin with:

  1. Hold a small block or object in one hand and another in the other hand at the same time.
  2. Place one small block or object beside the other.
  3. Pair an object with another the same. Eg., shoe and shoe, spoon and spoon.
  4. Roll forwards and backwards under the hand a small cylinder – a pill container or cotton reel
  5. Pile then a tower of blocks or stack of plates or cups. Duplo is good for this.
  6. Match another – find the same.
  7. Join two, then three blocks together. Lego or Snap Cubes work well.
  8. Draw over a thick straight line with a finger, from left to write.
  9. Draw over a thick straight line with a finger, from top to bottom.
  10. Place a block on an outline of a block, a cylinder on a circle, an object on a circle.
  11. Place blocks or objects into a pattern line; first horizontal, then vertical, and then diagonal.
  12. Place blocks or objects into a pattern – Numicon patterns are so good for this because then the children learn what a group is and that a group has a name. Then sequence the patterns.
  13. Recite and count objects into egg cartons, along a line, into a drawer, onto the table, out of the bath…
  14. Programme a small toy or robot to move forwards and backwards. A Chess board works well to guide this.

You can find products at Switch Learning, Sensory Corner and Edushop.

Enjoy this precious time together!

Next time you can read about activities and learning in the primary school years.