Your Guide To Preschool As A Parent Of A Child With Down Syndrome

As a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, you may be reluctant to send them to preschool. However, preschool is often a crucial way for all children, including those with Down Syndrome, to prepare for life. Here is what you need to know about this challenging, but rewarding, process.

Social Skills Are Vital For Those With Down Syndrome

Children with Down Syndrome will develop many skills later than their peers, but that doesn't mean that they can't benefit from a preschool environment. In fact, many experts are arguing that children with Down Syndrome absolutely require immersion in such an environment.

In their essay "Social Development For Individuals With Down Syndrome," Sue Buckley, Gillian Bird, and Ben Sacks state that " confidence and competence may be more important than academic skills for becoming independent, finding work, having friends and being independent in the community as an adult" in those children who have Down Syndrome.

The argument here is that, while children with Down Syndrome may not develop the same levels of cognitive skills as other children, their socialization and interpersonal skills are often very high. However, they require practice, and preschool will help them develop the kind of social skills that are necessary for their success later in life, including finding friends and work.

Setting Realistic Preschool Goals

Your expectations and goals for your child in preschool are necessarily different than in children without Down Syndrome. For example, children with Down Syndrome may have delayed language development, including taking up to four years to say their first word and over five to say two-word phrases.

That doesn't mean your child can't learn a lot in preschool. During this period, they should also be developing skills such as using their spoon, drinking from a cup, dressing unassisted, and proper social etiquette with their peers. The educational environment of preschool can help them master these skills.

Integrating Your Child Into The Preschool Setting

Depending on your child's development, you may have a relatively easy time integrating them into preschool or have a true challenge. The best way to help your child integrate is to spend a few days with them at the center and use their strengths to reach out to potential friends and socialize.

For example, maybe they are very good at sharing their toys with other children and love playing with clay. Encourage them to play with other children in this way to help the others in their class better understand your child, their personality, and the ways they interact. In this way, you are helping your child get along with his peers and develop stronger preschool skills.

This won't be an easy task, but it is one that will be beneficial to your child and you. Integrating them into preschool will give them the kind of supporting and caring environment they need to develop more fully within their means. For more information and advice on what kind of preschool programs would fit your child's needs, talk to a child care facility like Kid's Country Child Care & Learning Center.