Most children with Down syndrome have difficulties with hearing and verbal working memory, making learning from listening challenging. However, their learning profile includes evidence for specific visual learning strengths and a relative strength in visual working memory with the suggestion that learning with the support of visual aids has benefits.
Every learner is unique and develops and learns in different ways and at a different rate. We tailor our training programmes to support each child’s development through play, with a focus on meeting their individual needs and by focusing on their specific strengths.
Memory and Attention skills
Working memory is the capacity to hold small amounts of information in an active, easily accessible state. For example, we use working memory when we have to keep instructions in mind long enough to complete a task: if we are given lengthy instructions (feed the dog, wash your hands, call your sister and get ready for dinner) we have to keep in mind the whole sequence and perform the tasks at the same time. Children with poor working memory usually forget the instructions before the whole sequence of actions has been completed.
Working memory skills of children with Down syndrome tend to be very poor. We consider this a big risk because working memory skills are important for learning new information and new skills and have therefore a huge impact both on academic performance and everyday life.
This is the reason why we created a Memory & Attention training programme considering the specific pattern of visual strength and verbal weaknesses typical of children with Down syndrome. The first stage towards improving memory skills is always improving attention and concentration. These skills are not automatic and can be improved by practice! Then we can start working on the use of memory strategies, involving children in games and activities specifically designed to suit their ability level. Finally, and most importantly, we help the child to generalize the learned strategies to everyday life).
Mathematical abilities rely on working memory. Imagine attempting to add two numbers (e.g., 32, 19) spoken to you by another person, without being able to use a pen and paper or a calculator. First of all, you would need to hold the two numbers in mind. The next step would be to use learned addition rules to calculate the correct solution. Then you need to verbally communicate the correct solution, that is is a new piece of information.
Many children with Down syndrome have several mathematical difficulties with particular problems in mental calculation and abstract reasoning. These difficulties can be linked to many factors such as poor number sense, poor attention skills, lack of learning strategies or weak working memory.
We created the Numeracy programme considering the specific learning profile of children with Down syndrome. In order to support your child numeracy skills we use concrete materials and visual supports. The use of concrete materials (such as counters and cuisenaire rods) helps the child to explore, understand and internalize the use of efficient strategies and to build their confidence as they learn to explore and to think about problems. Furthermore, the use of visual supports (such as cue cards, grids and charts) helps the transition from concrete to abstract work.
“My daughter is finally grasping the basics of mathematics after several years at school with limited progress. It’s very heartening to see and all thanks to the specialized Happy Mind Training. So glad we found Erica and Hiwet!”
Emma, mum of 10 yo child
Contact us today for more information!