The Learning Program

The Learning Program

Participation in this program is for parents and children with Down syndrome age 3-9 years old


The Learning ProgramTM is an early educational literacy and math program for children with Down syndrome and is a nationally-recognized model for parent-focused intervention developed by the Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County (CA). The program is grounded on evidence-based approaches to teaching children with Down syndrome as established by Down Syndrome Education (UK), world-recognized leaders in cognitive research for children with Down syndrome. Central Illinois’ local chapter of The Learning ProgramTM is sponsored by the Heart of Illinois Down Syndrome Association (HOIDSA), a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit organization.

The Learning ProgramTM was created to bridge the gap between research and practice. Although researchers continue to discover more about how people with Down syndrome learn, their insight has been slow to filter to parents and teachers. This program focuses on parents as first teachers for their children, bringing the fruits of research into practice. Knowledgeable parents can work more effectively with their children and give them a jump-start on education. The program also arms parents to serve as capable advocates for their children in the educational process.


The Learning ProgramTM is designed to supplement traditional education. Despite some wonderful teachers, traditional education too often fails children with Down syndrome due to poor educational placement, lack of training, and outdated strategies. Through this program, we hope to strengthen the educational potential for children with Down syndrome, irrespective of their formal educational setting.


Parents and children attend concurrent monthly classes one Saturday per month from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. We meet for 8 sessions throughout the academic year, October to May. Depending on enrollment, we plan to offer at least two different levels of classes for our 2013- 2014 program. At each session, parents will receive two literacy packets. Each literacy packet includes a book, picture flash cards, word flash cards, picture and word lotto boards, two versions of word and picture matching worksheets, and ideas for additional activities. All materials are full-color and laminated for repeated usage.


Parents must make a commitment to attend all 8 sessions, if at all possible. Registration forms are due September 9th but please complete and return your registration form as soon as possible so we can determine whether or not we need to add an additional classroom for children. Space in the classrooms is limited. Students will be enrolled in the program based on the order in which registrations are received.


HOIDSA subsidizes a majority of the operating costs (teacher salaries, classroom supplies, etc.) so that families pay no more than $120 per semester (4 sessions per semester) for their take- home reading materials. Parents also have the option of attending without their children for $80 per semester. Please complete the application form and mail it to HOIDSA Learning Program, c/o Carol Nepolello, 1603 W. Grandridge Dr., Dunlap, IL 61525, along with your payment.

If you have questions, please email Carol at or call 309-453-9221.