Thursday, August 16, 2012
Noah starts Pre-K in three short weeks. He’s going to be at the Big Kid School just down the street for two and a half hours every morning. Just like a Big Kid. I spent some time on the phone this afternoon with his new teacher, Ms. C, and shot off handfuls of questions about the classroom, experiences, abilities, schedules, etc. Everything lined up with our expectations until she said one word: blended. Blended as in students on the standard track and students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs, formerly known as Special Education) learning in the same classroom.
If I’m honest, my first reaction was not one of acceptance and pleasure. I’m ashamed of that first reaction. I immediately went to a place of worry that MY kid would be held back, MY kid wouldn’t get individual attention because he doesn’t need an IEP. How horrible of me. That’s not the reaction I want my son to have when he walks into that classroom on Day One and meets sixteen new friends, five of whom might have some special educational needs. I’m deeply ashamed of myself.
Once I shut off those (highly) irrational fears I heard the enthusiasm in his teacher’s voice as she described a joyful classroom full of energy and liveliness. How the kids sit together at circle time and they talk about people being different and about acceptance and friendship and oh, is that not EVERYTHING you want your child to understand about the world? That there are millions of people who are different and special and amazing in their own ways. Of course it is. She described the silly dance parties they have and the group time for those who need some more advanced lessons. She told me the joy she feels when she sees a “regular track” kid befriending a kid with special needs and the two families setting up play dates.
Her excitement was contagious and I found myself nodding my head in agreement. How wonderful indeed. Noah’s little community has been rather homogenous thus far and the fact that we get this spectacular opportunity to diversify that community is pretty special. My initial negative reaction was quickly replaced by happy anticipation. Noah will get the benefit of knowing children from all backgrounds and abilities and it is my deepest hope that he carries these early experiences with him forever. Yes, Noah is very special and deserves only the best. And the best is exactly what he’ll get in Blended Pre-K Room 106. We’re so very excited.