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I’ve been reading The Well-Trained Mind and I’m wondering if anyone has been able to use this method with a child with Down Syndrome or another developmental delay. I know the 4th Edition has a chapter on learning difficulties but that seemed to be more about having your child tested if you suspect they have some sort of learning difficulty. What if I already know she has a developmental delay? Is The Well-Trained Mind achievable for someone like my daughter? 

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I have a child with Down syndrome for whom the WTM approach would be highly challenging, if not impossible. My child is 7 and along with DS, he has significant and profound developmental delays due to complex medical issues. He is nonverbal and is working on early preschool content in a public school 1st grade classroom with pull-outs for math, reading, social skills, adapted PE, speech and occupational therapy. 

However, I know of other kids with DS whose developmental delays are not as severe and who may be able to do well with a classical framework. I really like the Simply Classical approach from Memoria Press - it’s a curriculum based on classical principles but adapted to those with learning challenges. If I were homeschooling my son with DS, I’d start with the first level. Take a look and see what you think.  

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There is such a broad range of ability for kids with Down Syndrome. One of my friends has a son who can read and write in Spanish as well as English. I have several friends who have kids with autism and DS and are nonverbal. My kid with DS could not do WTM materials as written. Most of my other kids have special needs and they could not either. 

BUT. What we can do is approach material with many of the same goals that guide WTM and other classical philosophies. We never get to an advanced level, but we do aim for quality in what we do achieve. I read excellent literature to them, but the language can't be as complicated. (Mine are also ELL.) We learn things in history and science that broaden their horizons. We talk about if it was good for a person to do something. We talk about how events and stories are the same or different. We make sure they are exposed to beautiful art and music.

Most of this would never happen if my delayed kids were in public school here. One attends school, and all he does every day is color the same few sheets in his life skills class. A few years ago we tried school for a couple of the others, and while that one was slightly better, it was still inadequate. There was not even curriculum for teaching math and reading! If any kids would need explicit instruction to learn these things, it is mine. Mine are all older, and have long since crossed the threshold where the school thinks educating them is worthwhile compared to warehousing them during school hours. 

You know your kid best. Our philosophy in our house is that we will not ever limit what our kids can achieve, but we love them just as much no matter what that achievement may be. 

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