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Need recommendations for pre-k/k curriculum with my son with Ds

Guest Susan T. in Ohio

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Guest Susan T. in Ohio

He is nearing the end of his kindergarten year, and still has extremely basic skills. He sometimes counts to four, but not consistently. He seems to know some letters, but that is also not consistent. You can tell he is smart, but academically, it is not clicking for him yet. I want to give him a really big boost for the rest of this year and over the summer. It is not an option for him to repeat kindergarten, and anyway, I know I can do a great job supplementing what he is getting at school. I know him to be a child who would probably really enjoy a program that incorporates music, colorful materials, movement, and manipulatives. I homeschooled my older four children, but the things I did instinctively with them are not things that motivate him. So, I'm just trying to figure out what I could do now to work with him successfully. Thanks for any suggestions!


PS I have looked at Calvert's pre-k and k curriculum, Sonlight's pre-k, and that's about it. I think SL would be way to reading-heavy for him. I can't tell about Calvert -- some of the reviews I have read say that the pre-k doesn't even really introduce letters and numbers until closer to the end of the year, but that is something we need to get on in an effective way, right now.



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Some of the materials we've used successfully here are:


- phonogram cards (started with SWR; later moved to AAS). We just drilled sounds over and over (sometimes boring; sometimes a game). My son knew the names of the letters but I only stressed sounds. Many programs for kids with DS focus on sight words. I am so glad I didn't go down this road (well, I did go down it briefly and huge red flags went up and I stopped). I believe our reading success is mainly due to our focus on phonograms as our foundation; took longer and I couldn't brag about his huge vocab early on but he's really a reader now, that's for sure.


-I See Sam readers (many people on this board have used these successfully with their kids).


-Horizon readers (I bought ancient ones from the thrift store years ago but they are currently the readers Memoria Press uses for it's early grades. They are a little lame, I'll admit, but they did the job...and he liked them. Real reading, not guessing.


-a mixture of AAS, WWE and his own reading for copy work and dictation. Interestingly, my son with DS responded better to copy work and dictation than my oh-so-classically-taught older daughter.


-Zaner-Bloser handwriting; we tried Handwriting Without Tears and it was a flop. I simplified the ZB stroke descriptions (basically ball-and-stick) and his handwriting is great (neater than big sis).


We have definitely found our groove with language arts. Math is an ever-changing work-in-progress. Horizons K (book

1) went well and then we stalled for awhile. Now MUS is working but it's going slowly. Oh well, that's just the way it goes.


We've done innumerable read-alouds and audiobooks.


My son with DS has only been homeschooled so it's hard to say how these things would work if we were adding them to an already busy school schedule. I'm convinced, though, that institutional school would never give him the time he'd need to learn what he needs. I say that without judgement....I was a devoted, committed teacher and there were still significant limitations on what I could accomplish with my students. And yes, certainly, homeschooling him is an entirely different experience than it is with my daughter.


Best wishes,




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I've done MP junior K this past year. if he's not ready for writing or tracing, feel free to not do that part :) you can do the letters on chalkboard, in salt/flour etc....


I recently started AAR-pre (for the phonemic awareness game) and it seems like a nice and gentle letter awareness course. it teaches all caps, them all lower case, then letter sounds. has craft/color sheets for each lesson, a phonemic awareness type of game with each lesson, and suggestions for hands-on learning (making letter out of play do etc..).


have you looked at MFW? it is suggested a lot as fun, gentle, & hands on. (unfortunately, for me it doesn't mesh with my religious leanings in the kinder package but it really looks nice if you agree with young earth or are fine with cutting some things out). I will still probably get some or all of their pre-k level for my younger dc.


timberdoodle has great colorful hands-on items and packages too.

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My daughter has Down Syndrome as well. I would encourage you to look at whether he is truly able to move on to 1st grade. I have held my daughter back twice in the early years (even though we homeschool) because I feel that it's beneficial to have as much of a solid foundation as she can.


Some things that we have used are:


-Handwriting without Tears


-Sight reading program from the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County (all available for free online)


-Leap Frog products for phonics and alphabet learning.


-Numicon for math (Made for visual learners/especially those with Down Syndrome).


i'm attempting to build a website/blog to share our other speech/language materials. But those are some of my academic recommendations.

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