The Learning Program was created to bridge the gap between research and practice. Although researchers continue to discover more about how people with Down syndrome learn, their insight has been slow to filter to parents and teachers. The program focuses on parents as first-teachers for their children, bringing the fruits of research into practice. Knowledgeable parents can work more effectively with their children and give them a jump-start on education. The program also arms parents to serve as capable advocates for their children in the educational process.
The Learning Program is designed to supplement traditional education. Despite some wonderful teachers, traditional education too often fails children with Down syndrome due to poor educational placement, lack of trained assistants and outdated stereotypes. Through this program, we hope to strengthen the educational potential for children with Down syndrome, irrespective of their formal educational setting. The Learning Program section of this website enables parents and teachers to access informational guides, download materials and follow links to reliable information about best practices for instruction.
The Learning Program complements formal instruction in literacy and math. It also has occupational and speech therapy components. DSF has partnered with educators, researchers, therapists and administrators to develop a program that uses effective teaching strategies and customized materials to support parents, teachers and children in the educational process.
The program began in 2004, serving 21 families. It now provides direct local services to over 100 families through either monthly learning sessions or evening seminars. Parents enrolled in the core program attend monthly instructional sessions on topics like “Teaching Your Child To Read,” “Introduction To Math,” and “Creating An Effective Learning Session.” Children attend simultaneous monthly sessions which focus on skill development for literacy, math, language and fine motor skills. Parents receive materials to work with their children at home or at school. For those families unable to attend the monthly sessions in Orange County or who do not have sessions available through one of our Learning Program partners, we have created LP Online (Level 1), which offers live and recorded Learning Program sessions.
The Learning Program has its home in Orange County, California and is delivered in Newport Beach, California. The program is becoming a model for parent-focused educational intervention as parents and Down syndrome organizations throughout the country express interest in the program. We are responding by developing models that can be customized or adapted for use in other locations. The program is also expanding through the Internet. To date, over 8,600 families, teachers and therapists from across the United States and abroad access materials through our website.
We welcome discussion from interested parents and professionals as we continue to develop and refine our program, instruction and materials.