My last post about curriculum detailed Andy’s work for the upcoming homeschool year. I have two other homeschool attendees as well. Anna and Tanner are 11 and 10 years old. Both were adopted five years ago from Ukraine. Both have Down syndrome. Tanner was non-verbal until after we brought him home, has ADHD, and Fetal Alcohol syndrome. He also doesn’t make growth hormone, that’s why he seems to never change on the blog here.
For these two I have basically tried everything to see what would stick. It is most definitely trial and error. There are no manuals for how to teach a child who was neglected and malnourished in a Eastern European orphanage for half of their life. Oh how I wish there was one though.
In years past, I have used the ‘learn to read by sight word’ approach. It is proven effective with people who have Down syndrome. To some degree it was effective with my kids. However, we have struggled with what to do about decoding and learning to read with those skills. Both of them know their alphabet and the sounds of each letter. They didn’t seem to retain the words they memorized weeks later, even with rigorous review. Thus, this year we are going to try the phonics approach. We are also doing our fourth year of preschool/kindergarten work, and most likely Grace (age 3) will want to join in. So here’s the rundown of what we have decided to use this year.
- Love and Learning– this one helps to build vocabulary, comprehension, and reading by sight. While I am doing phonics, we are going to also do this program as well. It helps them to practice talking and expanding their vocabulary.
- Explode the Code- We are using this for the first time this year. I used this to teach Andy how to read, and he was reading well beyond grade level by first grade. I do not honestly know how this will go for Anna and Tanner, but for the price, it’s worth a try.
- Math- I have a book called Teaching Math to People With Down syndrome, it is packed full of information about how people with Down syndrome learn math. It also has many activity ideas, it really is a gem for kids with Down syndrome. We will use this and various preschool workbooks. The kids already know their numbers 1-10, shapes, colors, and how to count objects.
- Life Skills- I do not have a resource for this one, just a plan for my kids this year. I am hoping to have them both able to squeeze the right amount of toothpaste out and brush their own teeth effectively. Tanner will be working on practicing more self control, hopefully rewarding him and praising him for not acting on impulse will help. We are going to work on following 3-5 commands in sequence.
I’m sure there are more things that we will use that I haven’t listed. I have a Smart Board, so I use that with Starfall and ABCYA for the littles. If you homeschool children with special needs, and you have found something effective that you love, please share it here. I love hearing what other people are using.