I am so grateful for Terry Brown. Her paradigm shifting philosophy for giving kids with Down Syndrome the skills to read, write, and beyond is remarkable, and every child on the spectrum can benefit from her years of practice, knowledge, and dedication.
My daughter had the benefit of being able to experience So Happy to Learn weekly from the age of 3 at the place it all started, Mrs. Brown’s House. A visit began like a ritual with a walk up a windy, vined path full of roses, bird houses, beautiful stones, and plaques with motivational sayings. Once at the door, Katelyn would pause with a big grin, knock, and be welcomed in by Mrs. Brown herself. Katelyn loved the inner sanctum of Mrs. Brown’s home. It was filled with overstuffed cozy furnishings, fun and colorful learning materials, and on the floor, cozy quilts atop which many learning moments happened, with book and pointer in hand, crisscross apple sauce. Each session began with Focus Spray, a blend of pure water and essential oils that was spritzed gently over Katelyn’s face, eyes closed as she stated most earnestly, “I am focused.” We still use our Focus Spray at home all these years later. It always amazed me how much more productive Katelyn would be after this simple and beautiful intention to be present and give her best effort. Usually, some yoga stretches were included and some days during group sessions there often was a brief dance party, because dancing makes everything better. For Katelyn, Mrs. Brown’s House was pure delight.
In Katelyn’s earlier sessions, much time was spent on repetition and recitation. Katelyn loved the pointer and had such fun following along with Mrs. Brown in her custom books of basic words like cat, hat, sat. Terry knew when to motivate, when to back off, how to inspire and how to change up activities to make them more fun and interesting for Katelyn. She often videotaped Katelyn and played them back for her (and us) which was so much fun and so encouraging for Katelyn. Katelyn loved her Mrs. Brown’s House folder that she carried to and from her sessions. Worksheets and booklets were often personalized just for her with work for the week to practice, and often, extra worksheets of her favorite things.
Katelyn’s progress during her time with Mrs. Brown was remarkable and as she learned her letters, memorized words, and then started to make the connections with pictures, and meaning, the confidence she gained, and the joy of her own achievement was beautiful to see. A favorite moment was having Gen Ed teachers comment on skills that Katelyn had learned with Mrs. Brown that they were able to incorporate into their Gen Ed classrooms.
I have had the privilege of watching Terry Brown’s, So Happy to Learn program evolve over the years that Katelyn attended. And while many may not have the experience of physically being in Mrs. Brown’s colorful, cozy, happy learning environment, I guarantee that the dedication, love, expertise, and holistic person-centered learning philosophy that Terry has created are infused in her teaching materials, her directions, her videos, and interviews. It has been such a joy to watch my daughter excel and enjoy learning!
Mrs. Brown helps create confident and happy learners who have the skills to continue learning for their whole lifetime.
Kelly Reed, mother of Katelyn