Info For Educators

We appreciate the important role you play in enhancing the educational experiences of students with Down syndrome. Education is a crucial IMG_0101component of any child’s life. One of the areas of focus for the Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization is supporting educational professionals who work with our children.

One of the ways we do this is by offering The Learning Program to our families. Once a month parents attend classes to learn best practices for working with their children to supplement and enrich their public school education. We emphasize the value of a home-school collaboration so that a student with Down syndrome is successful.

Our organization advocates for inclusion of students in general education. Parents who make this choice and work at home with their child, and teachers advocating for success in the least restrictive environment, are changing lives. Extensive research and our own local, anecdotal success stories show that an inclusive education produces an adult who is better prepared to engage their community at school exit. Students who spend their entire K-12 school experience segregated from typical peers face a huge challenge in reaching their full potential.

The Learning Program encourages parents to be diligent in teaching their children with Down syndrome academic skills as well as appropriate social skills. During Learning Program sessions, children work in small groups with teachers, an Occupational Therapist and a Speech Language Pathologist. The Learning Program serves children from age 3 through 17. Please feel free to refer families to us who you believe would benefit.

100_4173In September 2011 we introduced our Exceptional Educators Program, a collaboration with the School District of Palm Beach County. Over 50 teachers who have students with Down syndrome in their general education classrooms attended the first training to learn the basics; Florida Access Points, Curriculum Modifications, and behavior strategies. The evaluation response was overwhelmingly positive. We appreciate that teachers found value and want to learn all they can to help children with Down syndrome succeed in the general education classroom and reach their highest potential. Organization staff are available to assist classroom teachers in any way possible. Since the inception of the Exceptional Educators training, we have trained almost 400 teachers and support staff.

Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization serves Palm Beach County and maintains a Resource Lending Library with a variety of materials addressing a wide range of topics related to Down syndrome. If you would like to know more, please give us a call at 561-752-3383 or email Our library is available at our Down Syndrome Resource Center in Boynton Beach.  We welcome your inquiries.

Suggested Resources


Tips for Teaching Students with Down Syndrome

1.  Have high expectations for the student.  Be enthusiastic and encouraging.

2.  When planning a student’s instructional program, be guided by the student’s individual ability and needs, and not the label of Down syndrome.

3.  If the student is highly distractible, seat the student away from windows and doors to minimize distractions in the environment.
4.  Small group instruction may be more beneficial to the student than whole class instruction. Try to also set aside some time for one-on-one instruction.
5.  Model the task and give the student many opportunities to perform it.  Break down tasks into smaller sequenced steps.
6.  Ask the student to repeat or rephrase instructions.  Ask the student specific step-by-step questions to make sure the student has understood the instructions given.
7.  Set aside time for frequent review and practice of tasks.
8.  Allow the student adequate response time.
9.  Provide consistent positive reinforcement immediately after the student produces a correct response.
10.  If the student makes a mistake, do not say “that’s wrong.” Ask the student to try again, or provide the correct response and require the student to repeat the correct response immediately. Immediate corrective feedback is more effective than delayed.
11.  Give clear signals about the end of one activity and the beginning of the next.  Use picture cues or audio cues with young children. For example, use picture symbols representing activities or sing a certain song before a specific activity.
12.  Present only a few stimuli or objects at a time. For example, if you are using worksheets, create worksheets that do not have too many pictures or sentences with complicated wording. Highlight or print key words in bold.
13.  Use concrete objects/manipulatives along with verbal explanations. For example, while teaching counting use manipulatives that are alike in shape, size and color, so that the student concentrates on counting, rather than being distracted by shapes, etc.
14.  Be flexible with attaining educational goals. For example, if the student has difficulty writing with a pencil, teach the student to write using a computer.

Universal Design for Learning is an educational approach with three primary principles:
·         Multiple means of representation, to give diverse learners options for acquiring information and knowledge,
·         Multiple means of action and expression, to provide learners options for demonstrating what they know,
·         Multiple means of engagement, to tap into learners’ interests, offer appropriate challenges, and increase motivation
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for designing curricula that enable all individuals to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. UDL provides rich supports for learning and reduces barriers to the curriculum while maintaining high achievement standards for all.

View the NDSS Education Series presentation powerpoint and video.

Universal Design for Learning Resources:
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