Any of you who have read my blog know that I have a son with Down syndrome. He is 5 and is currently enrolled in a virtual kindergarten class. He's doing well. He continues to surprise me with what he learns.
As much as I love seeing him learn the kindergarten curriculum, I am more interested, at this point, in helping him use speech as his primary form of communication. To this end, we have been working on sight words. I've made flashcards out of index cards and I've written down the words that are most useful and pertinent to him.
Every day we go through flashcards. To introduce some new words this week we decided to include the whole family. I read the person's name on the card, showed my son the name, and then asked him to give it to the correct person. I want him to associate those words/names with the people in his life. We then went around the house and put flashcards on the refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, bathroom, plate, cup, bowl, spoon, knife, fork, table, and chair. I'm hoping this will form a connection in his brain between the words and the items they represent.
I've also introduced him to names of animals, clothing, colors, and food by showing him the word and then associating it with a picture and/or sign. That seems to work very well.
A great idea someone shared was to take a favorite book and make sight words from the book so the child would then be able to read that book.
I don't send my kids to kindergarten at school because I prefer to teach them at home that year to make sure they learn to read and understand simple math concepts. I have taught my kids to read using a phonics program and all of them have entered school reading, some even reading 2-4 years above grade level. I'm sold on phonics programs.
Then, I had my son. I've learned that phonics is much harder for him to learn than sight words. I've had to relearn and reteach myself so I can work with him. It feels like I'm doing this all backwards. But he is learning and that's what's important.
And I'm learning, learning, learning, I'm thankful for the opportunity to see reading, and learning, from a different angle. Supposedly when kids with DS master over 200 sight words, they begin to speak more. I'm sure hoping that's true because I can't wait to hear all that's on my son's little mind.