How DO you teach reading to a child with Down syndrome? GO IN THROUGH THE HEART
“How DO you teach reading to a child with Down syndrome?” asked the Mensan. I was flying across country to give workshops when a fellow traveler asked me this question.
Mensa, for those of you who don’t know, is a brainiac organization for very bright humans. I had noticed him reading his “Mensa Bulletin” magazine, and we began to talk about education, a passion we shared. I knew his question was sincere.
I surprised both him and myself with my immediate and simple answer: “You go in through the heart and teach to the brain.”
“What do you mean?”
That was naturally his next question.
“We target the child’s dearest interests, the people or things he loves best, as topics. Using those door-opening keys, we design materials that are extremely brain-friendly—that is, easy for the brain to grasp and retain. We use elements that include extremely large type, a high focus format, visual separation of text and pictures, and we teach words quickly with the Fast Flash Technique. That’s how we do it.”
Back to Personal Books
Remember Personal Books? Going in through the heart WHILE teaching to the brain is the whole point of Personal Books. (enter “Personal Books” in the search box to the right to get ALL the related articles on how to make them).
Remember to use humor. Ask our children;”Humor” is their middle name. Why have many children with Down syndrome learned to read first with the Spaghetti book? It’s ridiculous, that’s why (and designed for the brain.) To quote Dr. John Langdon Down, “Individuals with Down syndrome have a lively sense of the ridiculous.” Indeed! So remember to use “ridiculousity” in your personal books.
Phenomenal educators have gone before us showing us the way to simplicity, heart-centered books, and brain-friendly formats. The work of Maria Montessori (see my article on the special ed origins of her work), Glenn Doman (Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential) and Robert Doman (National Association for Child Development) immediately come to mind.
I’m still waiting for all school systems to wake up and realize that drilling too-small type on uninteresting topics (uninteresting to THAT child) is the slow boat to China. Make that a rowboat.
While not getting our knickers in a twist over the fact that time is rushing by, as parents we know we want to make the best of brain-formative years. So why would we take a rowboat when we can take an A-10 Warthog? (No, not Hogwarts…The A-10 is arguably the fastest aircraft today at 440 mph).
“In through the heart and teach to the brain” is our Education A-10 Warthog.
“Fasten your seatbelts. Crew, prepare the cabin for takeoff.”
Fastening my seatbelt,