Teaching Resources for Children with Down Syndrome

The following is adapted from an email response by an educator and mother of a child with Down syndrome.

Fortunately, there are many wonderful resources today for teaching children with Down syndrome. Some of them are specifically developed with Down syndrome in mind. Others are intended for use with a wider spectrum of abilities. 

I have listed below some of the resources that I used with our own son who has Down syndrome. He is now 16 and is a delight to our family as he reads everything in sight, learns to manage money, and works in our family business. He surprises us everyday with his capabilities, whether it is learning to drive the golf cart or calling 911 with his new phone (twice in one day with thinly-veiled excuses!!!).

Disclaimer: If you use the below methods and they work, I am not responsible for anyone else using number skills to call the ambulance unnecessarily.

Nevertheless, here are some suggestions.

Whole Child Reading is a good quick read that includes many of the successful methods I used with our son. It also explains the reasons behind the methods.

The two books below about how to teach reading and math are excellent; however, they may not be in print anymore. It looks as if you may still be able to get them from Amazon, and you might also still be able to find used copies. What I found invaluable was the introduction to the reading book which explained how to teach to inspire confidence and how to differentiate between teaching and testing. It also has an excellent chapter about the learning process. It gives good advice with specific examples such as the danger of labeling a child as stubborn when, instead, the problem may be that the material has not been broken down into small enough steps to ensure success.

Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome

Teaching Math to People with Down Syndrome

DSE is a very good evidence-based resource. I used some of their printed resources/kits in teaching our son. They use the same method as the above books, but they have physical bundles with guides that are very useful.

I don’t like using too many computer or tablet resources, but one that was helpful to our son was Starfall. It incorporated enjoyable learning without too many distractions, and the screen was simple and uncluttered. A subscription for one year is also quite inexpensive and could be used as support for whatever curriculum you choose.  

Mercy for Marthas is a blog with plenty of information about education for children with Down syndrome. It has many helpful ideas as well as links to other resources. Even though it is a homeschool resource, the one-on-one methods will be useful in a school setting as well, especially if the child is being tutored.

Positive Discipline for Children with Special Needs is a good book for meeting the unique discipline challenges of children with special needs. Because of cognitive differences, children with Down syndrome often don’t make good connections between their behaviors and punishment. This confusion for why they are being punished can really destroy/delay advancements in behavior and academics. Spanking is particularly ineffective because many of our children with Down syndrome don’t process pain in the same way other people do. This book provides other ways of providing kind yet firm guidelines that work much better than traditional methods for children who are developmentally delayed. 

I wish you the best as you serve our Down syndrome community by learning how to serve one precious child.

Photo by Pavol Štugel on Unsplash.

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