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Guest Post: Learn and Thrive - Debbie and JJ's Story

Learn and Thrive have been transforming education for children and young adults with Down syndrome with their educational videos. Read how one family have been positively impacted with their Learning for Life project.

What is ‘Learning for Life’?

Learning for Life is a project by Learn and Thrive that delivers short videos, delivered directly to young people covering particular areas of the wider relationship and sex education curriculum. Each video has an accompanying student resource pack and visual resources to support teaching and learning. 

The first series is ‘Growing Up and Keeping Safe’ which explores areas of privacy, appropriate behaviour, and private body parts. It addresses some key areas of the curriculum that are often overlooked and may need more explicit teaching for our young people. 

The next series is in production and the aim is to keep building content until there is a bank of videos covering a wide range of topics within the RSE curriculum, including sexuality, puberty, difference and much more.

Debbie and JJ's Story

debbie-jj-learn-and-thrive.png"JJ is 11 and in year 6 and currently doing RSE at school, so it’s excellent timing for us to be doing this series at home because it dovetails the curriculum she is being taught at school. It’s not something we have really talked about at home yet, so it’s great that it has helped us start those really important discussions.

Until now there has been nothing out there freely available that’s all in one place to help teach these concepts to young people with Down’s syndrome. Knowing that these tools have been produced by specialised teachers and are aimed specifically at young people with Down’s syndrome means I trust them and I don’t have to do any preparation work checking if they are suitable for JJ. 

The format works really well, I sit with her whilst we watch the video and then we do the activity together. It takes the pressure off me having to research how to teach these topics properly and questioning if I am taking the right approach. 

It’s brilliant how the series starts at simple foundation concepts in order to gradually build the learning for RSE topics. The first resource is called ‘Public and Private Places’ and it really helped JJ get the core concepts of public and private before moving onto the body parts. The videos have been really engaging for JJ and are nice and short so that works well for her attention span.

She really enjoyed the activities and was very keen to do the cutting out and sticking using the resources provided, this really helped her engagement with the series. She especially liked the house picture and being able to place the cut-out figures in public or private areas. She also enjoyed using the green tick symbols and do not enter symbols to explain appropriate touch. I love the way the resources are simple and obvious, there is no ambiguity, and this has really helped embed the learning for her. 

I have definitely seen the concepts click with JJ as she has been using them in her normal life. We go swimming regularly and she is now understanding about needing privacy when getting changed and learning that there are different areas at the swimming pool that are public and private. What I’m most impressed by is she is really keen to learn about these topics and wants to do it!

I’m so glad we found these resources now whilst JJ is quite young. We will definitely be re-visiting them as she gets older and it’s so handy to have a video ready to just click play if she needs a bit of reinforcement with any of the concepts. 

I’m looking forward to seeing how the ‘Learning for Life’ series will develop and what other topics will be covered – honestly, they are so good I would be willing to pay for them if they weren’t free! I would recommend them to any parent of a young person with Down’s syndrome.” 

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About Learn and Thrive

We are a UK charity supporting learners with Down’s syndrome to access free specialist educational support videos via our website www.learnandthrive.org.uk.

We are passionate that a diagnosis of Down’s syndrome must never be a barrier to a fulfilling life within our community.