See and Learn

Learning to talk is a particular challenge for most children with Down syndrome. Difficulties with understanding and using language present obstacles in daily life and can be a major source of frustration.

See and Learn is an evidence based, structured teaching programme which teaches speech, language and reading skills in small steps for children with Down syndrome up to 6 years of age. 

The programme is designed to help educators and parents provide young children with the additional support and practice they need to learn language.

We are investing in the programme with funds raised through our HB Fundays campaign this year.

During 2020, we want to put a See and Learn pack in every participating pre-school in the country that has a child with Down syndrome attending and provide See and Learn packs to each of our 25 local branches.

We are also evaluating the impact of See and Learn on children with Down syndrome. We are inviting parents who have a child with Down syndrome aged between 2-5 years to participate, as well teachers / early educators. That way, we can lobby the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to get See and Learn included in the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) for children with Down syndrome so that the programme is fully sustainable in the long term.


Are you a parent or early years educator?


If you would like to participate in the programme, you will receive See and Learn training  and also a free See and Learn kit.   Following training, you will be required to carry out specific See and Learn activities that promote early vocabulary and/or early reading development. These activities can be carried out within the home, créche or preschool environment over a period of 6 months. An assessment of the child’s vocabulary will also be carried out both before and after the six month period. If you are interested in participating in this project please contact Gavin McDonnell, See and Learn Project Leader at  


See and Learn training


Our three-hour practical workshop provides parents and early years educators with the skills to teach children to develop early vocabulary and early reading skills. See and Learn – Vocabulary 1 and See and/or Learn – Phrases 1 are the programmes participants will use to support their learning. Parents and educators will be given the opportunity to use the materials and will be given advice and support to carry out each step of the programme. Parents and educators will be given practical examples that can used at home or in early years settings.

The See and Learn programme was developed by Professor Sue Buckley OBE and is grounded in extensive research. This evidence-based programme will enable parents and early educators to work through specific activities to increase vocabulary knowledge and use. Participants will be encouraged to follow the child’s lead, sign, keep records and teach additional words. 


A parent’s perspective


“In the early days, our children’s comprehension is rarely reflected in their spoken communication; which leads to them being underestimated in terms of learning and potential, which unfortunately as we’ve seen in the past, impacts on their entire life. Most times, children with Down syndrome know the words and are trying to say them clearly, but it takes quite some time to perfect the pronunciation – so whilst Mum’s and Dad’s know the difference between ‘juice’ and ‘shoes’; others communicating with our kids might struggle.

“But thankfully, so much is changing.  Early intervention works.  See and Learn works – we’ve been using it at home for two years and see the results. It’s been life-changing,” says Mum Deirdre, whose son Ronan is 4.


About the presenters

Olive Buckeridge

Olive Buckeridge has recently joined our Members Support Team as our Early Years Specialist. Olive is also an experienced speech and language therapist with a particular interest in early year’s development. She has worked in a variety of clinical settings and has most recently worked in Down Syndrome Ireland’s Limerick branch where she developed and provided specific intervention programmes. She has also provided specific training to preschool and primary school teachers to promote children with Down syndrome’s successful transition from preschool to primary school. Olive works with children and families to support them throughout their early years up to and including their transition to primary school.

Olive’s background is Speech and Language Therapy where she has provided individual and group therapy to children with Down syndrome. She has experience in feeding, eating and drinking disorders, Lámh and Assistive Technology.

If you would like to speak to speak to Olive you can reach her on 01-4266500 or you can email Olive at

Gavin Mc Donnell

Gavin Mc Donnell has recently joined our Members Support Team in the role of See & Learn Project Leader. Gavin’s core responsibility is to roll out See and Learn to pre-schools around the country, as well as providing training on the programme. Over the course of the year, Gavin will carry out research and evaluate the impact of the programme so we can lobby the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to fund the future roll out of See and Learn so that it is fully sustainable in the long term.

Gavin’s background to date is in Psychology. He has completed his Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge and he is now currently in the process of completing his Masters at the University of Limerick. Gavin’s ultimate goal is to become a clinical psychologist, specialising in the area of Down syndrome.

Gavin has a younger brother Liam who has Down syndrome. “The struggles that both Liam and my parents faced was the inspiration for the career that I am now pursuing,” he explains.

Growing up, Gavin volunteered extensively with organisations such as the Special Olympics and his local Down Syndrome Ireland branch.

If you wish to speak with Gavin, you can reach him on 01 4266500 or you can email Gavin at

Olive Buckeridge teaching See and Learn

In the video below our Early Years Specialist, Olive Buckeridge gives an example of how our new See and Learn programme is thought to a young child (Ameliya) with Down syndrome. The demonstration highlights the format of how the programme is presented to the learner via visual stimulation, verbal repetition and positive interaction.