Inspired by 30 years of research conducted by Down Syndrome Education International, The Learning Program was developed by the Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County (DSFOC) in 2004 to teach parents to be effective first teachers for their children with Down syndrome. Today we know more than ever about the cognitive profile of individuals with Down syndrome. Strengths include visual learning, reading, and social skills. Challenges often include speech and language, and verbal short-term memory.

DSANV became an affiliate partner of the Learning Program in 2009 when we launched our pilot program. Now in our fourteenth year, class instruction will be delivered to in-person to both parents and students.  We meet one Saturday morning per month where individual parent classes last 60-90 minutes and we’ll be offering a student/sibling component in tandem in person as well.

Applications for the 2023-2024 session are closed. Inquiries about the program should be directed to email:

For more information on the program, and access to free downloadable program materials in both English and Spanish, please visit the Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County. Materials for the program can be purchased separately and are available here.

The 2023-2024 proposed session program dates are:

  • Saturday 10/14/23
  • Saturday 11/18/23
  • Saturday 12/2/23*
  • Saturday 1/6/24 – canceled due to inclement weather; make up date 2/24 online.

*12/2/23 class is an online only parent class

  • Saturday 2/10/24
  • Saturday 3/9/24
  • Saturday 4/13/24
  • Saturday 5/11/24
  • Saturday 6/1/24
Eyes open up when a child with Down syndrome enters kindergarten able to read.”Dana Halle, Creator of the Learning Program

“We have taught many children with Down syndrome to read from 2 years of age and we are quite convinced that it is the single most effective way to help children overcome the learning difficulties associated with Down syndrome. All the early readers we know have made exceptional progress through school and into teenage life. All these children have been taught reading and language side by side by their parents in their preschool years. It is not difficult to teach children with Down syndrome language through reading, and most children would succeed and benefit if those around them had confidence in the value of reading and worked consistently in small steps.”Sue Buckley and Gillian Bird

“The old view was that Down syndrome caused equal delay across all areas of development. We now know that this is not true. Research has identified a specific profile of developmental strengths and weaknesses in children with Down syndrome. We are also learning that there is a huge capacity to positively or negatively impact development through intervention.”(Sue Buckley, Online Presentation, January 2010).

“We want our children to be embraced by the community. We want our parents to feel empowered, not overwhelmed. We want our parents to be able to work with the system, not be shut down by the system. We are here to support you.”Dana Halle, Creator of the Learning Program