Down syndrome children: How to teach them effectively


Teaching a Down syndrome child

Down syndrome children can learn just like typical children. So assuming and treating them as incapacitated people is inappropriate when it comes to academic work. For the fact that they have proven behavioural disorders is the more reason why the society should strive to move them progressively along the learning continuum.

Solid intervention and high-quality instruction have correspondingly been proven to lead to improved academic achievement for Down syndrome students.

In my last article on this theme, I wrote about social inclusion of kids with Down syndrome. In this article I will write about the how to teach them effectively. What are the best way to teach Down syndrome kids?

Understand Down syndrome children and how they learn

For a teacher to impart in a kid with Down syndrome, he must know who his student is and figure out how he learns which differs from the way other children learn. He must understand what motivates him; his strengths and weaknesses in order to succeed.

The teacher, moreover, needs to know if he has any medical conditions or limitations for recess, physical education or nutrition.

The information will guide the teacher towards setting and incorporating the student’s learning goals into his daily class routines and activities. This gives the room to capitalize on their strengths and interests, improve on their weaknesses and further build motivation for his success.

The teacher can also study the Individualized Educational Program (IEP) of the kid with Down syndrome regularly and follow up on the reviews.

Instructional curriculum planning and implementation

Instructional curriculum planning and implementation in favour of children with disabilities may be more tasking for the teacher but the results far outweigh the commitment.

Ability to link the lesson contents to the students’ prior knowledge and interest area lessens the length of class and home work.

Educators should encourage adult and peer support and allow for different means of representation. Structured learning and teaching opportunities should enable the student to engage in tasks with other students, who can act as appropriate role models.

One of the best practices to that end is creating the Down syndrome children’s curriculum similar but unequal to those of other students, maintaining high work and performance expectations from both groups. Equity not equality is the objective here. Don’t expect your Down syndrome kids to have the same work load and results with other typical students.

Being able to predict the ability of the children at every point in time is evaluative in nature and measures desired learning outcomes. Every student should be working to the best of his or her ability.

Classroom management in favour of Down syndrome children

Students with special needs are often time easily distracted. Teachers should ensure that the classroom is quiet and orderly and structured in such a way that they know your rules, routines and expectations. Also, he should ensure that Down syndrome children are not seated close to the window.

Ensuring Effective instructional communication

An appropriate instructional communication model is the use of language and speech instruction to facilitate effective communication because Down syndrome kids may have severe hearing impairment and articulation problems. At times, facilitated communication will be a good augmentative or alternative communication.

Many students with Down syndrome do not have adequate expressive verbal skills, so consequently benefit from augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems. However, facilitated communication through personalized one-on-one support is recommendable but shouldn’t be in excess.

Engagement in simplicity of instruction

Having a consciousness that a student with Down Syndrome will usually have a good short term memory, educators should be skilled enough to employ simple and common language appropriate for their understanding.  He should speak slowly when necessary, ensuring shortness, clarity and straightforwardness of instruction and always breaking tasks into smaller steps and providing instruction for each step.

Even though they have good social skills, the instructor should allow adequate time for the child to process language and respond during instruction.

Again, making bold eye-to-eye contact when teaching is engaging, keeping in mind that their receptive language skills are more advanced than their expressive language skills.

Direction of instruction in short time intervals along with smaller chunks of activities is learning-supportive. Introducing new item slowly, in succession and step-by-step fashion will ensure maximization of learning.

Taking only one step in advance of the learner and asking the learner to repeat the just concluded lesson items back to you aids rote recall. Avoid competition. It is better to use multi-modal instruction approach that works best for every student.

Engagement with instructional aids

Articulative teachers use strong visual assistance and schedules to teach reading skills since Down syndrome kids have strong visual sense of learning.

Reinforcement in visual learning in terms pictures, illustrations and demonstrations can launch them into the realm of learning. Employing of manipulatives and activity learning to number work is undoubtedly beneficial. Available concrete materials and real world authentic situations can make a difference.

For the fact there are children with disability in attention and learning, the teacher should adopt Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for diverse means of representing materials, engaging with materials and reacting to materials. Ensure that the child has access to effective communication system used as aid.

Enhance their engagement and access to instruction more by adopting modern technology to their learning styles like recorded book, picture boards, word document processor, speech-generating devices and other applications.

Manifest teaching styles suitable to different types of learners – visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile. Employ the ‘classmates and older students’ teaching style in class lessons to strengthen hold on outcomes.

Phonics and phonological teaching is quite unnecessary.

Collaboration with team members

Coordinate all IEP and ensure all stakeholders in the children’s IEP work collaboratively to achieve set goals. Goals should be connected to classroom participation, such as, making lesson contributions and asking questions and the curriculum, such as art work, science practicals)


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