Inclusive Strategies for General Education

Suggestions to Remember

  • As you would with any student, set high expectations for your student with Down syndrome. All students have unknown capacities.
  • Teach the same lesson material but modify it so they can learn the same content.
  • Encourage your student to be an active participant in the class/lesson.
  • Don’t forget that there are a lot of resources you can tap into for help. Need ideas?? Ask students, intervention specialists, parents or other educators.
  • Diversity is a source of strength in the classroom. All of your students have something to teach each other. Empower them!
  • Work with paraprofessionals to advance academic and social goals e.g., how to integrate the Instructional
  • Assistant (IA) in your classroom and encourage them to help when necessary and step back when appropriate.
  • You are the primary teacher. You want the IA to help facilitate but not take charge.

Ideas for Implementation

  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL): The goal of UDL is to use a variety of teaching methods to remove any barriers to learning and give all students equal opportunities to succeed.
  • Inclusion relies on differentiated instruction: It can be used for content, process, or product. It can be based on student interest, readiness, or learning profile.
  • Pre-teach, Teach, Re-teach: 
    • Intervention Specialist can PRE-TEACH the material
    • General Education Teacher can TEACH the material
    • Instructional Assistant can RE-TEACH the material
  • Creative scaffolding: Scaffolding in the field of education refers to a process in which teachers model or demonstrate how to solve a problem, and then step back and offer support as needed. E.g., when trying to teach someone to ride a bike, you give them training wheels.

Don’t be scared to take a risk. You can learn from failure!

Inclusive Strategies for the General Education Teacher (PDF)

Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati Education Resources

Joanie Elfers, School Age Matters Coordinator - Joanie has expertise in a variety of school topics. At no charge to families, she is available to attend school meetings, assist in IEP planning and work with educational professionals to achieve a desired goal.

Joanie also engages with schools to provide valuable information, create connections, and expand the impact of our work and support. She is available to do "Peer Presentations" in the classroom setting to enhance the students and teachers understanding of Down syndrome.

Presentations from the 2019 Motivation in Education Conference

Best Practices & Behavior Supports for Learners with Down Syndrome
Presented by Gretchen Carroll, MA of Cincinnati Children's Hospital & Medical Center

Creating Inclusive Classrooms: Accommodations, Modifications & Co-Teaching Strategies
Presented by Caitlin Smith of Kings School District & Todd Juengling of Clark Montessori

Strategies for Positive Communication & Collaboration between Parents & Educators
Educator & Parent Panel

Making Friends Where You Live Toolkit

In our travels, we see over and over again that people with disabilities have relationships primarily with family members, people who are paid to be with them, and other people with disabilities. These relationships are important even critical—and deserve to be celebrated. But people with disabilities should also have opportunities to connect in deeply meaningful ways with unpaid people in their communities, living without a disability label. In a world that still largely segregates and congregates people with disabilities at all ages, this can be a challenge.

View ToolKit

Excerpt form the National Down Syndrome Society

Inclusive education is more than mainstreaming. Mainstreaming implies that a student from a separate special education class visits the regular classroom for specific, usually non-academic, subjects. Inclusion is an educational process by which all students, including those with disabilities, are educated together for all, or at least most, of the school day. Generally 80% or more of the day is what is considered inclusion by proponents-a majority could be anything more than 50%. With sufficient support, students participate in age-appropriate, general education classes in their neighborhood schools.

Excerpt from Wrightslaw

It is important for the individual with Down syndrome to be included into the community in all facets of his/her life including, but not limited to, education, extracurricular activities, community employment, etc.  The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights outlined recommendations for students with disabilities in extracurricular athletics. 

Dr. Paula Kluth

Dr. Paula Kluth is a consultant, author, advocate, and independent scholar who works with teachers and families to provide inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities and to create more responsive and engaging schooling experiences for all learners. Paula is a former special educator who has served as a classroom teacher and inclusion facilitator. Her professional interests include differentiating instruction and inclusive schooling.  

Her website is dedicated to promoting inclusive schooling and exploring positive ways of supporting students with autism and other disabilities.  Most of her work involves collaborating with schools to create environments, lessons, and experiences that are inclusive, respectful, and accessible for all learners.

Working Toward Full Inclusion for Catholic Schools

“Our mission is to inspire schools to begin the process of becoming inclusive, to educate teachers, parents, principals and priests on what it takes to be an inclusive school and to provide the educational research and real life experiences that support it.”

If you are interested in learning more information about the National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, visit their comprehensive website at:

You will find information about inclusion, how to talk to kids about inclusion, research related articles, harmful effects of segregation, stories of inclusion, inclusive schools and diocese, a full inclusion scrapbook, information on differentiating instruction, apps and technology, and much more! You can also check out their facebook page.