Every child learns how to read differently, especially those who have Down Syndrome…at least that’s what we’re learning. We originally focused on word recognition only and did not do a lot with phonics, but Elijah knew his letters so well and phonics seemed like the natural way to help him identify words. We started introducing the sound of the first letter of a word and it was amazing how he could identify words with only a few repetitions. We chose words that had meaning, like cat, sun, mom, horse. We had previously done a lot of flash card work with these words that included the picture, so when we made new cards without pictures and cued him with the sound of the first letter, he picked it up right away. He can now identify 20-30 words with minimal help and is ready for the next batch. We introduce the sounds of letter combinations as they come up, like /ch/ and /sh/. These are harder for him since he wants to just focus on the /c/ and /s/, but he’s memorizing the words more easily all the time. The combination of all these strategies is the ticket, at least for us. Every child is different so figuring out what works can be tricky. We let him guide us…as long as he’s excited about what we’re doing, we go with it. If he loses interest, we just move on to another strategy and keep it fun.
Elijah has also been making amazing gains with his speech. His speech pathologist commented just this week that he is speaking more clearly and has really improved with finishing his words. This has always been an area of difficulty for Elijah. I’m convinced that all the time spent exaggerating letter sounds is helping his speech too.
This is a book that I found to be helpful. It has great points about teaching to their heart and getting them excited about reading.