Saturday, October 3, 2015

Homeschooling With Down Syndrome

Joseph has Down syndrome.  Joseph is homeschooled.  Him being the 5th child in our clan, it only seemed natural to us to homeschool him just like his older brothers and sisters.  However, the rest of the world doesn't always agree.  There's a common belief that children with special circumstances need special education teachers.  I know special education teachers and they are wonderful people.  We didn't choose to homeschool Joseph because of the teachers or the students or any political reasons.  We chose to homeschool him because it's what we know how to do - we're comfortable with homeschooling and after living with Joseph for 5 years it didn't seem like it would be much different homeschooling him with Down syndrome than his siblings.  So when his time in the Birth to 3 program was coming to an end and we were barraged with paperwork regarding his placement in Early Ed at our local public school, I politely declined, sharing our intentions to homeschool him just like his older siblings.  At first they seemed quite surprised and kept sending me the info, but after numerous polite declines the packets stopped coming and he just fell out of the system.  And here we are today with a 1st grader on our hands.

And what does it look like to homeschool with Down syndrome?  Take a look.  It looks pretty much like it did when his older siblings were in first grade.

We bake bread together.
It's a good excuse to strengthen his hands.
It should help him hold his pencil better.

Baking bread is like playing with Play-Doh, only you get to eat it at the end.  After it's baked, of course.

A little hippotherapy anyone?  Joseph loves riding horses with his sisters.  Helps to strengthen his core muscles.

 Here's my teacher box where I keep all the workbook type supplies.  All the traditional schooly stuff.
We use Mother Goose Time, Handwriting Without Tears, All About Reading level 1.

We practice drawing Mat Man.  Good pre-writing exercises to practice pencil grip.

He's trying so hard to hold it correctly.  See that face.  It's the first time he put eyes on a face in the correct spot.  Happy day!

His completed Mat Man.  This is an activity from Handwriting Without Tears.

 Hanging out in the reading corner with one of his favorite books.  And apparently someone was disrupting his quiet time.  SHHH.

A little fine motor development, sorting cranberries.

Nature Study on the marsh.

Dancing to classical violin tunes.  Music appreciation and gym class wrapped up in one.

And more dancing.

And when he's finally tired out enough to sit down, we practice word families.  Say each sound.  Blend each sound.  Say it fast.  Wow, Joseph, you're a reader.

We play reading games from the All About Reading program.  This time he had to unlock the treasure chests by identifying vowels and consonants.  If he unlocked it, he got to eat the animal crackers.

This is just a snippet into a day of homeschooling with Down syndrome.  It's not always easy; it's not always pretty, but it's always rewarding.

To learn more about the All About Reading program, please click on my affiliate link below.  Thanks.

This post is in honor of #Down Syndrome Awareness Month.


  1. Thanks for a little ray of hope. We're a homeschooling family of 8 and are expecting a little boy with Down. You're showing me that it CAN be done--that I won't have to surrender him to the state system. God bless you!

  2. Congratulations! An acquaintance said to me before the birth of Joseph, "Congratulations! I'm sure it's a difficult blessing." She was so right. After Joe was born, social workers were in my room by the next day with pamphlets of services offered and how each one would be necessary to his development. I filed those away for many months before inquiring about in home physical therapy. I'm so glad we accepted the PT. It was a blessing for Joseph. Remember you are the parent and you have your child's best interest at heart. Follow your gut, pray hard, love him and you'll surely do what's right for him and your family.

    Keep me posted on your progress.

  3. How old was he when he played this vowel and consonant game? There is no way on this earth that my daughter can do that game. She can hardly sort cats and dogs. How can I find the strength to homeschool when her academics are so far behind and her behaviours are often out of control? I don't want her day to consist of watching 3 hours of DVD's or sitting on the couch reading books on her own. We have 4 kids ages, 7,6,4, and 1. She is 6.

    1. Sorry about taking so long to respond; some how I missed this comment. Joseph was 7 when I published this post. He's 9 now and rest assured a lot of maturing happens between 6 and 9. He still plays this vowel/consonant game making plenty of mistakes but there's always a bit of progress. Hang in there!! Especially with the behavior issues. Around age 7 or 8 it got easier to "reason" with Joseph and timeouts were actually a little effective. Before this they didn't do a thing, but waste my time. I work at limiting Joe's TV time, too, but sometimes TV is what keeps me sane.


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