Transition into
Secondary School

About the Curriculum

Some students with Down syndrome arrive in secondary school at age 14, and don’t plan on leaving until age 21. That makes for a long secondary school career, and it is important that the curriculum continues to evolve to meet the needs of these students.

It is clear, when a student with Down syndrome moves from elementary to secondary school, and particularly when they attend an IPRC with their family members to discuss their first daily schedule, that this is an exciting transition. After that, however, the moves from secondary grade to secondary grade are more subtle (i.e., when they move from Grade 9 to Grade 10, the student doesn’t necessarily change rooms or teachers as they do in elementary school), and indeed the impetus to keep updating the curriculum in some secondary school programs can lessen, and the transition can lose energy and purpose.

Parents and guardians of a student with Down syndrome in secondary school may have to be particularly vigilant.  If they sense that their child’s learning has slowed or stalled at some point in their secondary school journey, they may want to

  • Keep secondary teachers and others energized about the continued learning potential of their student with Down syndrome, and
  • Suggest that the teaching team consult Down syndrome-specific teaching resources when drafting the student’s IEPs.

Students with Down syndrome can improve in many skill areas in their Secondary school years. Following are some key resources that have the potential to bring new ideas and teaching strategies to secondary educators:

Hodgdon, L. A. (1995). Visual strategies for improving communication: practical supports for school and home. Troy, MI: Quirk Roberts Pub.

Horstmeier, D. (2004). Teaching Math to people with Down syndrome and other hands-on learners (First edition.). Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.

Oelwein, P. L. (1995). Teaching reading to children with Down syndrome: a guide for parents and teachers. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.