Learning to Learn
Notes from our recent training session
Down Syndrome Support Organisation
Supporting the Present to change the Future
Patrons: Dr Anna Baverstock MB, ChB, MRCP(UK), MRCPCH, Ms Sally Lindsay
The Old School, School Road, Westonzoyland, Somerset TA7 0LN Tel 01278 691100
UNDERSTANDING OUR CHILDREN
Saturday 28th January 2017
Learning How to Learn – David Cudworth
This training session examined the learning profile of a pupil with Down Syndrome, including reading, and managing behaviour.
David was Education Officer and Specialist Advisory Teacher for Ups and Downs Southwest for nearly four years, providing support and training to nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools and FE Colleges in over 250 settings across the south west and south Wales. David is now Inclusion Coordinator at The Park School in Yeovil, a small non-selective and very inclusive mainstream independent school for children aged 3-18.
The following notes are from David’s inspiring and thought provoking training.
INFORMATION AND TIPS
Some facts about Down Syndrome:
- Babies with Down Syndrome are usually born to older mothers.
- It’s often been thought that the average age expectancy of a person with Down Syndrome would be 30 years old but now, many can expect to live as long as an average person without Down Syndrome.
- Many adults with Down Syndrome can lead a mostly ordinary, independent life with some support.
- Children with Down Syndrome are not typically loving, affectionate or stubborn. These are learned behaviours that children have gained.
- Children with Down Syndrome do have delayed speech.
- All children with Down Syndrome have learning difficulties.
The aims of the training:
- To raise awareness.
- Provide strategies.
- Help for your school/child.
- To help you remember we all have 46 things (chromosomes) in common with people with Down Syndrome.
- To show that children with Down Syndrome develop a wide range of abilities.
- To learn to accept and not worry that there will always be a gap in learning compared to a typically developing child the same age.
Successful inclusion depends on:
The attitude of the school; Support and training the school are willing to do; Behaviour of the student; Ability of the student.
A typical learning profile of a child with Down Syndrome includes:
- Strong visual learning skills.
- Ability and desire to learn from their peers.
- Learning and using written words.
- Learning best from pictures, photos and practical demonstration, sign and gesture.
- Being a keen communicator despite language delays.
- Structure and routine, e.g., Visual timetable.
Typical inhibitions include:
- Fine and gross motor skills.
- Speech and Language and Auditory and visual issues
- Auditory memory (remembering things they have been told/heard).
- Shorter concentration span.
- Consolidation/retention of information.
- Thinking, reasoning, and Avoidance tactics!
Differentiation is a ‘must do’ whether your child is in Reception or Year 11!
Effective communication relies upon:
Class teacher and teaching assistant; Regular liaising each week/fortnight; Copying teaching assistant into planning; Ensuring the teaching assistant is valued; Using basic, simple visuals; Teaching a child to learn one thing well.
Managing support at school:
Primary – Recommended that two Teaching Assistants/Learning Support Assistants, not one, support the child e.g.. One for the morning and one for the afternoon.
Secondary – Teaching Assistants classroom based by subject area instead of one morning and one-afternoon Teaching Assistant.
Points to note if you have a Single Teaching Assistant (TA)at school:
Can work well, depending on the personality of the TA and rapport with the child. The child can become overdependent on the TA.
It can be a barrier with the teacher talking to the TA, not the child. Remember a TA needs to be a TA, not a PA!
Types of TA:
Velcro – lots of support but stuck to the child at every moment! Helicopter – offers support but hovering over the child.
Bridge builder – creates stepping stones for the child to move forward with their learning. Peer support:
Instead of just relying on one ‘buddy’ child, have a range of children a similar age to help with peer support for your child at different times. That said it’s essential to get the right match and obviously, a child who is willing to be a peer support!
Children with Down Syndrome are visual learners:
Use See & Learn from the Down Syndrome Educational Trust, available through the Down Syndrome Association to order as a pack or a downloadable app.
It uses photo visuals and matching words.
There are three stages of learning for word recognition and reading: Stage 1 – 50 words spoken – 2 words linked together e.g.. Please, mummy. Stage 2 – 100 words spoken – starting to link more words together.
Stage 3 – 250+ words spoken – in lists and sentences.
Managing behaviour – some recommendations:
Use a consistent manner; ensure there are consequences understood from the child’s perspective; no special treatment; teach rules explicitly; make choices; use visual timetables; and use time out where appropriate (eg. egg timer for 60 seconds to manage expectation of time out); use direct instructions e.g. ‘Get your maths book out’ not ‘Do you want to do maths now?’; use praise when doing work well e.g.. ‘Good listening Martin’.
A quote from Caroline White the mother of Sebastian White who has Down Syndrome, (he was the first child with Down Syndrome to appear in M&S clothing adverts):
“Inclusion is everything…”
Find future training courses on Facebook, Twitter or our website. http://www.upsanddowns.net
Becky Hughes, Ups & Downs South West Ambassador.