Strategies for Learning and Teaching

  • Students with Down syndrome have strong visual learning modalities. Teaching reading to students with Down syndrome should be characterised by a strong emphasis on visual learning. Visual demonstrations, pictures and illustrations can also be successfully used to assist in providing effective instruction in other subject areas of the curriculum.
  • The teaching of phonics and phonological awareness should not be neglected.
  • The use of manipulatives and activity learning can be beneficially employed in the development of number concepts. Numicon¬© visually-based mathematic materials have been developed with particular reference to the learning strengths and needs of the student with Down syndrome.
  • It is important that high expectations and predictability characterise all learning and teaching opportunities.
  • Students with Down syndrome generally demonstrate good social skills, which can be constructively utilised to increase learning and teaching opportunities.
  • Tactile demonstrations and activities also appeal to many students with Down syndrome.
  • Directly teach timetables, routines and school rules to students.
  • Speak directly to the student, using clear language and short sentences, and use appropriate and unambiguous facial expressions.
  • Allow adequate time for the student to process language and respond.
  • Structure learning and teaching opportunities to enable the student to engage in tasks with other students, who can act as appropriate role models.
  • Be aware that the student may become unnecessarily dependent through the availability of excessive one-to-one support.

The SESS has a range of tips on learning and teaching in relation to Down syndrome. Information was compiled from a wide range of sources, details of which can be viewed here

The SESS reminds teachers that the tips for learning and teaching presented are not necessarily exclusive to Down syndrome and should be used by teachers after an assessment of the learning and teaching needs of each pupil.

  1. Information on difficulties associated with the learning of Mathematics (PDF - 138 KB)
  2. Tips on the teaching of number (PDF - 104 KB)
  3. Tips on the acquisition of basic skills in Maths (PDF - 125 KB)
  4. Tips on behaviour management strategies (PDF - 171 KB)
  5. Tips on the modification of worksheets/written text (PDF - 123 KB)
  6. Tips on the acquisition of sight vocabulary and meaningful words (PDF - 124 KB)
  7. Tips that may assist teachers in the promotion of oral language (PDF - 119 KB)
  8. Observation Window for parents that may help in planning (PDF - 111 KB)
  9. Tips to consider when teaching the pupil in Post-primary school (PDF - 112 KB)
  10. Down Syndrome Sources for Information sheets compiled by Fidelma Brady (PDF - 132 KB)