About the Learning Program
The Learning Program is an educational program intended to supplement, not replace, your child’s formal education. The program focuses on developing competencies in literacy and math through direct instruction and targeted materials you will receive for use at home.
Originally conducted by the Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County, who partnered with Sue Buckley, Down Syndrome Education USA and our Learning Program Advisory Board, we hope to combine current research on best practices with effective teaching strategies to help support you and your child in the educational process. While there are many great teachers, too often public education fails children with Down syndrome due to poor educational placement, lack of trained support or low expectations. This program seeks to strengthen the educational outcome for your child.
The Value of Teaching Early Literacy & Math
Researchers now recognize the benefits of involving children with Down syndrome in reading and literacy activities at an early age. Early reading skills can improve a child’s ability to participate in formal education and learning, increase employment opportunities and provide access to books and newspapers.
Reading instruction from an early age serves other purposes, too. Research suggests that exposure to literacy activities can improve spoken language and memory skills, even without independent reading. Interestingly, studies show that reading ability is often a strength for children with Down syndrome and that children do better than might be predicted on the basis of their language skills or general “mental age” measures. Other by-products of an early literacy program include improved speech, articulation, and grammar.
Little research has been performed regarding the math capabilities of children with Down syndrome. The limited information available shows a wide variation in number ability, and we need further research to better understand math potential. However, the present data suggests that the early teaching of math to children with Down syndrome will influence math abilities and, notably, that children with Down syndrome learn about numbers in much the same way as typical children.