In today's highly competitive and varied educational world, choosing the right path for your child can be a challenge for any parent. However, when your child has Down syndrome, you may find the school selection process to be especially overwhelming. When should your child start school, and should you pursue special or integrated education down the road? Fortunately, there are a number of preschool programs that can help your child build confidence and get started on the right path. Read on to learn more about some of the best preschool programs to help children with Down syndrome thrive.
The Montessori method can be ideal for children with any type of learning disability because of its focus on learning through play and loose age groupings. The philosophy underlining Montessori education is that children are natural learners and are best when left to pursue their own interests (with some guidance) and learn through sensory play and interaction with the outside world. This can be tremendously appealing to children with Down syndrome, who may prefer to concentrate for hours on a single task rather than move through the more formal instruction program of many traditional preschools.
In a Montessori classroom, your child may spend time practicing tracing letters or numbers with shaving cream, building in a sand box, or playing a matching game with classmates. Because Montessori schools tend to group children by ability, rather than age, so you won't need to worry that your child will be made to feel less capable than his or her classmates. In many cases, attending a Montessori school can help build your child's self-esteem by giving him or her the chance to comfort younger children when they're hurt or help them with a task they haven't yet mastered.
For more information on a Montessori education, contact a school like Sammamish Montessori School.
This method is similar to Montessori, but has a slightly more structured focus. Children are still encouraged to exercise their creativity in all activities, but there is a greater emphasis on group activities and moving all children from one activity to another at once. Many Waldorf classrooms are set up to look warm and inviting, helping your child feel more at ease in an unfamiliar situation and better able to relax around peers.
Waldorf education can also help boost your child's self-esteem by giving him or her the confidence to speak up in a group and even lead other children. Like Montessori schools, Waldorf schools can often group children by ability rather than age, allowing your child to receive instruction at a level with which he or she is comfortable while still being challenged. And because many Waldorf schools have grade levels through high school, you'll be able to provide your child with a consistent curriculum for more than a decade if he or she thrives there.
If you or your spouse is a stay-at-home parent or has a job flexible enough to permit some instructional days off, joining a homeschooling group may be a good option. Even though your child may seem young to begin formal schooling, many homeschooling groups have a wide cross-section of ages, giving your child the opportunity to work with a close group of peers while still getting a fair amount of individual attention.
A homeschooling group can also be an ideal arrangement if your child has demonstrated a particular interest or aptitude in one specific subject -- because many parents within the homeschooling group each have their own specialties, you'll be able to tap into a wealth of knowledge and may be able to find a teacher or two who really connect with your child and can foster an early love of learning.