About See and Learn
See and Learn programmes offer targeted, evidence-based activities packaged in easy-to-use kits and apps that are designed to support early development for children with Down syndrome.
See and Learn programmes are designed to help children with Down syndrome during the formative early years. Four programmes target language and reading, speech, number skills and memory development. Each programme aims to develop key early skills in small steps with regular practice, providing easy-to-use resources to support a selection of teaching activities.
The See and Learn programmes are developed by Down Syndrome Education International and Down Syndrome Education USA and are informed by the latest research and extensive practical experience. DSE has been at the forefront of educational research improving outcomes for children with Down syndrome for over 40 years.
The early years is a critical period for the development of key skills that provide the foundations for later learning. Children with Down syndrome learn more slowly and find it more difficult to learn than many other children and therefore need additional support. Targeted early intervention can help to improve rates of progress and outcomes.
Language and reading
Most children with Down syndrome learn to talk later than typically developing children and their spoken language continues to develop more slowly. Language skills are important for learning (thinking, remembering, reasoning) and for social communication. Additional support can help children with Down syndrome learn more words more quickly and develop more advanced grammar skills.
Many children with Down syndrome can learn to read printed words from 3 years of age or earlier. This can establish key skills ready for learning to read and write in school. Early reading activities can also support the development of spoken language.
When they start to talk, most children with Down syndrome find it difficult to say words clearly. Many remain difficult to understand throughout childhood and into their adult years. The foundations for speech skills are established in infancy and targeted additional support through the early years can help to improve speech clarity.
Many children with Down syndrome find learning number concepts particularly difficult. Additional support in the early years can teach a basic understanding of shape, size and colour concepts and of number and counting, providing a solid foundation for later learning in school.
Most children with Down syndrome have relatively poor verbal short term memory skills but better visual short term memory skills. This impacts many aspects of learning. Additional support can improve memory function and teach effective memory strategies.
See and Learn offers an evidence-based developmental approach to early learning, drawing on the latest research on how children learn and develop and adapted for the particular characteristics of children with Down syndrome.
Designed for children with Down syndrome
The design of See and Learn reflects the profile of relative learning strengths and difficulties that is typically observed in children with Down syndrome. Information and concepts are represented visually wherever possible to build on the children's relative visual learning strengths. Activities progress gradually and encourage listening, joint attention and concentration. New activities build on previous ones to promote revision and consolidation of learning.
Learning to learn and experiencing success
See and Learn is also designed to teach behaviors that children use to learn - including following directions, responding to questions, imitating, taking turns, initiating, and playing with a partner. See and Learn teaching activities are designed to support success, encourage problem solving, persistence and feelings of competence.
Tracking progress and extending learning opportunities
Each step in each See and Learn programme includes activities (as materials or as apps), clear step-by-step instructions, and record sheets to chart progress. The guides also include many suggestions for consolidating and extending learning during play and everyday activities at home or at preschool.
See and Learn programmes are designed to be easy for parents to use independently at home or to accompany therapy and other support services.
There are four See and Learn programmes:
- See and Learn Speech - designed to teach young children to hear and produce speech sounds (phonemes), to hear the differences between sounds (discrimination), to develop their speech sound system (phonology), and to produce clear speech
- See and Learn Language and Reading - teaches children to understand and use spoken language from first words to early grammar and simple sentences, and introduces children to reading their first sight words, learning letter-sounds and using phonics for reading
- See and Learn Memory - aims to teach children to be aware of memory from infancy and to develop their visual and verbal short-term and working memory skills
- See and Learn Numbers - designed to teach early maths concepts and counting to children with Down syndrome
The development of See and Learn programmes has been made possible by the kind support of foundations and private donors including The Freemason's Grand Charity, Credit Suisse, CIBC, Ambac UK, Garfield Weston, the UK Big Lottery Fund and the Rayne Foundation.
Proceeds from the sale of See and Learn resources contribute to continuing research and the further development and evaluation of new teaching programmes. We also rely on donations to support our work improving education for children with Down syndrome worldwide.