Monday, 17 October 2016


I'm still getting used to the double drop off and pick ups on the school run, with Ella and Lucy being at different places for this school year.  

Wednesday to Friday, Lucy is in pre-school which means I drop off and pick up Ella first and then make the 5 minute car journey to Lucy's nursery to drop her off or pick her up.  

The mornings are generally fine, as Ella has to be in school for 8.55am at the latest and then Lucy's drop off is 9-9.15am which gives me plenty of time to drop them both off without rushing or worrying either will be late.  

Pick-ups are a little different as Ella finishes at 3.15pm and then I have to get to Lucy's nursery by 3,30pm.  This is doable as I park close to the school gates and the nursery is only a short drive, but it does rely on Ella coming out of school promptly and being one of the first to leave the classroom (then not making any of her famous detours before we reach the car).  Her classroom door opens straight onto the playground which does speed the process up a lot. I've also found that leaving her after school snack in the car means she has an incentive to get there quicker too!

I had no need to worry about any of this last Friday.  As the classroom door opened, Ella was the first child out of the door - and for good reason.  She was clutching the 'Star of The Week' certificate proudly to her chest.  As she saw me, she stopped and announced to myself and other awaiting parents 

' Ella is a Superstar'

Says it all really.  She received the certificate for 'fantastic number work' (tracing numbers and linking number to quantity when I asked her teacher for specifics!which is lovely because unlike her phonics/letters and writing she struggles with numbers and maths (just like her mum).  Maths is a much more abstract concept for a visual learner than reading and writing is which makes it a harder skill to master.

She's definitely a lot less confident with her numbers - she can count to ten on a good day but is very inconsistent, can miss numbers out or get them the wrong way round. She can also count 'how many', but often has trouble recognising her numbers and we are still a long way off doing sums. But, she is working hard even though she doesn't find it easy which is all we can ask for.  We have her EHCP review this week and maths will be one of the many aspects of school life to discuss. We will be setting targets for Ella to achieve throughout this school year and how she can meet those targets.  

I am no expert and realise that every child is different and what works for Ella may not work for others but wanted to share some of the things that we have been using to help her improve her maths skills and understanding at home.  


We bought our own Numicon set when Ella started using it at pre-school.  It's a brilliant visual and physical way for teaching children with DS to count using shapes, patterns, colours and they can count using the coloured pegs or by counting the holes in each shape. The number shapes also fit together so adding numbers produces a shape or pattern - for example instead of imagining what 4+3 equals, the sums can physically be done by the child using the number 3 shape and the number 4 shape.  This multi-sensory approach really consolidates the learning taking place and is also allowing a learn by doing approach too.  

We've just started using mathletics now she is in year 1. Mathletics is an interactive virtual learning platform that links in with the taught curriculum.  The tasks/activities Ella needs to do are set by school and we log on to her specific learning profile to work through them.  This again is a very visual approach to number work and as we access it via an app on the Ipad, it becomes more of a game than a school related activity and is therefore more appealing to Ella.  

Anywhere and everywhere
Around the house and when out and about we do lots of counting. I try and bring it into everything - playing games, reading books 'how many ducks on the pond in this picture' or at the supermarket - 'can you put six carrots in the bag please Ella'.  I'm also pointing out lots of numbers on signs/buses/registration plates to get her practising recognising her numbers.  
As with all aspects of Ella's learning she needs lots and lots of repetition to consolidate new information and skills.  

I know she will get there and it doesn't matter when, we will just keep on going until she does.

Friday, 7 October 2016

A World Without Downs

I will write more about 'A World Without Down's/NIPT soon - need some time to gather my thoughts first (and I've got a poorly Ella to look after at the moment!).  The following post is cobbled together from my Facebook posts over the last few days... Alternatively you could read 'Losing Down's Syndrome?' - a post I wrote earlier in the year.

Many of you may have noticed that Down’s Syndrome is big news at the moment. Something that I'm sure you know is important to me.

This is the week that Sally Philips’ important documentary is due to air. She will explore the ethical issues and questions arising from the proposed roll out of the new NIPT screening test for Down's syndrome. 

The biggest question being asked…

Can you imagine a world without people like Ella?

I am aware that I share a lot of articles, pictures, blog posts and other information relating to DS on my timeline. I am not apologising for this, Down’s Syndrome is a big part of our lives and I am very committed to educating others (maybe you) and busting some of those long standing, ingrained cultural myths about the condition. 

Mainly, I want to get across that having DS is not to suffer, is not debilitating and does not cause distress or trauma to those living with it, (unlike the media would have you believe).

I am not against testing or screening in pregnancy. Nor am I against the new NIPT screening that offers women the chance to find out earlier in their preganancy, with greater accuracy and in a safer, less invasive way whether her unborn child has a chance of having a chromosomal abnormality – such as Down’s Syndrome.

I do believe women should have choice – in this case, to terminate or not to terminate as difficult a concept as that may be to me. What I am striving for, along with many others is for parents to be given balanced, factual, unbiased information relating to a positive diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome along with unbiased language (no ‘I’m sorry' and using ‘chance’ instead of ‘risk’) and access to support following a diagnosis – whether that is given pre or post-natally. This is happening far too infrequently at the moment.

I’m encouraging everyone to try and watch the documentary and to think about the issues that Sally puts across.  For she speaks for the vast majority of us within the Down's Syndrome community.

You can watch on BBC iPlayer (UK only) here:

If you watched the documentary or not, please consider taking a few seconds to join our social media THUNDERCLAP for Down's syndrome.  Supporting the need for women to be given unbiased, factual and better information regarding Down's syndrome and the screening process itself. We'd also like to see better access to counselling and support groups at the point of diagnosis and that language used should be non-leading e.g. 'I'm sorry...'

Thank You
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