So, you have 35 years of evidence-based research and federal law behind you. Your child with Down syndrome has a teacher with an open heart and willingness to include him or her. But it’s the actual act of inclusion day in and day out that’s stumped teacher. It’s the “HOW” and “WHAT” to teach students with Down syndrome in the general education classroom that can often be difficult.
Let’s be honest, most general education teachers do not receive the proper training or support to include a child with an intellectual disability in their classroom. I have a Master’s in Education and only took two graduate level classes on special education. I received no hands-on training. So, I can empathize with teacher’s who are at a lost as to what and how to teach our children.
The link above walks parents through 5 tips to help their child with Down syndrome be included. We know parents are the expert of their child, but it’s the teachers that need support. It’s a fact, that including a student with an intellectual disability takes some preparing and a village of support. Although following the law and having an open-heart is half the battle, teachers also need evidence-based resources that they can use tomorrow in class.
Here are 4 resources to help teachers include students with Down syndrome in their class:
- I took a fabulous inclusion workshop by Richard Villa this past summer at the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention in Sacramento. He helped me find NPRinc, which is a treasure trove of professional development products for teachers. This is a the “HOW” of teaching students with Down syndrome.
- Villa just published a quick-reference laminated guide to “Differentiated Instruction in the Inclusive Classroom.” You can find it here. NPRinc. also has hundreds of other books and quick reference guides to include students with disabilities. Look at the “Products by Topic” on the left, or enter “Down syndrome” in the search engine. You’ll find books on teaching students with Down syndrome to read and do math, as well as dozens of other topics.
Related: Federal Appeals Court to Decide if Student with Down Syndrome Can Stay In General Education Classroom
- Universal Design for Learning is the wave of the future. This approach takes into account the fact that all students learn in their own unique way. It’s another “HOW” in teaching students with Down syndrome. The National Center on UDL has teacher toolkits and great examples and resources that teachers can implement right away. There’s 3 basic ways to reach all learners according to UDL:
- Multiple means of representation to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge,
- Multiple means of expression to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know, and
- Multiple means of engagement to tap into learners’ interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn.
- In answering the “WHAT” of teaching students with Down syndrome, this is a great place to start. Common Core is a controversial topic, but some amazing educators took the standards grade-level content and broke it down for students with disabilities. “The purpose of the Essential Elements is to build a bridge from the content in the Common Core State Standards to academic expectations for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.”
- You can check out essential standards for grades kindergarten through high school right here.
- I usually don’t like Down syndrome-specific learning techniques, because I think students with Down syndrome can learn like other students if the appropriate accommodations and modifications are used. But I do love Sue Buckley’s literacy and math techniques.
- Buckley is the creator of Down Syndrome Education International, and she has educator online training. These one to two hour webinars offer research-based techniques, practical advice, and work examples. I’ve seen Sue Buckley in action at several conventions, and she’s amazing! Click here to register.
If you’re an educator, share your biggest challenge in teaching a student with an intellectual disability below. If you’re a parent, what do you wish your child’s teacher knew more about? Share your journey with me below or send me a private email!