Lila is learning to read!

Last month was our first session of The Learning Program. For the people that have not heard about this program, here is a very brief overview:

The Learning Program uses evidence-based methods and strategies to teach children with Down Syndrome, supplements traditional education in literacy and mathematics, supports ST and OT needs, provides individualized support to families and supports parents/teachers in the educational process.

Our Learning Program is separated into two levels, Pre-K and Level 1. Lila's birthdate put her in Level 1.

A description of the two levels:

TLP Pre-K (ages 24 – 48 months; eligible date of birth 10/1/2006-9/30/2008)

TLP Pre-K is for DSANV families with a child with Ds between 24 and 48 months according to the Fairfax County School Calendar. Parents and children will spend the hour together working on the development of pre‐literacy, fine motor, language, and numeracy skills in a play‐based environment.

TLP Level 1 (ages 4 – 6; eligible date of birth 9/30/2004-9/30/2006)

TLP Level 1 is for DSANV families with a child with Ds between 4 and 6 years old according to the Fairfax County School Calendar. Parents receive monthly 90-minute instruction on a wide range of topics such as “Teaching Your Child To Read,” “Introduction To Math,” and “Creating An Effective Learning Session,” while children spend time with professional teachers working on the development of literacy, language, fine motor, and numeracy skills.

Lila's birthday is in the middle of September, 2006. She barely made the cut-off for Level 1 so that meant she would be one of the youngest kids in with the "older kids" and that made me very nervous. To me, the Pre-K program whispered "comfort level" and the Level I program screamed "Intimidating!"

I just found the e-mail that I sent when I submitted Lila's application for the program.

"Hello! Attached please find the application for our daughter Lila to be
entered into the DSANV Learning Program lottery. If possible, we would
like to apply to be entered into the Pre-K program instead of the Level 1
Program. Lila's birthday is 9/17/06 and we are concerned that she might
not be ready for the Level 1 Class."

I got this response:

At the moment, we are enrolling children based strictly on age criteria.
This is an imperfect method, but given that this program is new, we
are waiting until we are more experienced before considering
adjustments or exceptions to that policy. Having said that, we
do plan on assessing each child individually as the year progresses,
and are open to changes later on, space permitting. If you are
accepted into the program, there will be an open house prior to the
first session which might be a good opportunity to chat further with
us and the teaching staff about your concerns.

Please feel free to contact us with any other questions.


Seriously, I was so nervous. About so many different aspects. To me, the Pre-K program whispered "comfort level" and the Level I program screamed "Intimidating!" My brain went crazy.

What if it is way over Lila's head and she starts acting out? Will it be too loud in there? Will the professionals recognize if Lila is over-stimulated? What if they don't? Should I spend the money if it is just going to be a waste of time? Wouldn't it be better if she were in the Pre-K class so I could work with her? I know her best! Blah, blah, blah.............

Excuse me, obsessive-compulsive control freak

I calmed myself down and paid the money. You know the rest. I was wrong, of course. Over-protective, under-estimating, and just plain wrong. Lila loves it.

I love it because the materials are provided. I don't have to do anything but work with her. I know me and if I had to do my own printing, cutting, laminating, etc. it might not get done for a while. If ever. Just being honest here. About six months ago I decided to start a sight-reading program with Lila. Know how far I got with that idea? Me, Lila and a Magna Doodle. Impressive, right? Thank goodness for The Learning Program. We're actually moving forward here!

Here is a video I took this afternoon:

We are so proud of her! Sorry for under-estimating you sweet girl!

Living and learning~



  1. She's amazing, as you well know! :o) We didn't do this program this year, though it is available here, but the more I hear about it, I'm thinking next year we should! Go Lila!

  2. Linda,
    Your video preceded my reading your blog. Someone sent it to me. My first thought was, "Wow! That looks like Lila!" Then, "That looks like the Learning Program!". I was going to ask you if you'd posted to Youtube, but then got on FB and saw your link!
    She's doing great! Isn't it such a fabulous thing? Reading does an amazing thing. I love hearing Lila's little voice. Her speech is so clear--wonderful! Great job!

  3. I am so impressed! Lila, you are amazing girl!!

  4. We made this video for Daddy! That's why I said, "Your daddy will be so proud." I am so proud of her too!

  5. WOW!!! That it AWESOME! Ella was watching it with me and said "awwww, cute Ella!" LOL.

  6. That's fabulous! I'll bet daddy WAS proud. Along with mommy and sister, and brother and aunt and....

  7. Wow!I enjoyed hearing her read!She's doing super! Thank you for sharing all the information about the program.

  8. I love Lila! She truly is a little miracle :). Great job reading, Lila!!

  9. Oh my goodness! Are you kidding me? I think she reads better than my kindergartener (who doesn't have ds)! Where do you find out more about this program? Is it just where you live or do they have it here in utah too?
    How amazing!

  10. Hi Linda,

    What a smart and beautiful little girl you have! I absolutely loved this post and am happy to have stumbled upon your blog. We also have 3 kids and one of our girls came with the magic of an extra chromosome. Alexa is a twin and will be 3 in November and Lila is such a great inspiration. I am pretty new at this blogging thing (just started mine in July) and this is the first comment I post. I tried to find an e-mail address where I could contact you but was not very successful. Unfortunately we can’t be part of this great reading program as we are in Canada but I would like to learn more about it and the “work” you do with Lila.

    You have a wonderful family!


  11. Ma,
    this is incredible! I'm glad you remembered to never doubt or limit Lila! She keeps on showing us that her boundaries are not where we would think they are and that is great. I'm glad she keeps on reminding us that just because she has DS doesn't mean she isn't filled with massive amounts of potential so long as we are creative in providing outlets for her to bloom! You just keep on finding out how to be a better Mom, Ma and that is damn impressive! Love you!

  12. Our whole family gathered around the computer to watch this video- and we are AMAZED! I can't wait to teach Lily to do this one day!