Q. Our school uses Memoria Press K-8 classical curriculum. Currently we have a child with Down Syndrome in first grade. We are looking for any help you could offer with new modifications to the existing curriculum.
A. Children with Down Syndrome can vary widely in ability, but these initial thoughts might spark more ideas of your own:
- Create a Strategy Team
- Include his parents, K and 1st grade teachers, someone in your school with special-education training or experience, and his therapists (speech, OT, PT).
- Discuss his unique strengths within the MP curriculum.
- Determine his most pressing areas of need (e.g., recitations, reading).
- Brainstorm ways to modify instruction (e.g., more visual or manipulative materials, more repetition through regular tutoring at home or after school).
- Plan ways to adjust his required responses (e.g., fewer written answers).
- Set realistic short-term and long-term goals with a plan to reconvene each quarter.
- Obtain Necessary Support
- Secure a thorough evaluation (cognitive, speech and language, academic) and request professional recommendations for specific academic modifications.
- Provide recommended equipment (e.g., postural or writing aids for low muscle tone).
- Ensure recommended therapies, if he does not yet receive these.
- Plan for the Future
- Plan for needed modifications in second grade and beyond.
If you foresee a need for more intensive help, you might consider creating a resource room or a tutorial K-3 and 4-6 classroom for students with significantly different learning needs. Our new slower-paced, multi-sensory Simply Classical Curriculum is designed for such a situation.
Originally published in The Classical Teacher Spring 2015 edition.