Okay okay, it’s no secret I love my preschool, but since we have just met, let me give you a bit of background. Dylan and her twin started at our school district preschool right after her third birthday. We didn’t really have a choice on preschools because of her special needs, she transitioned in very easily from our Early Intervention program. I enrolled Duncan there as well, he needed the outlet and this was easy. Even without a choice, boy, did we luck out! We quickly became lifers and since then two additional children have been enrolled there.
In the few years that we have been there I have had my preschoolers go into their summer program which is four weeks in the summer, three days a week. I was excited to put my new preschooler in with my second year preschooler to get him used to what going to school will be like. I noticed, as I was walking out the first day, that there was a mom unloading a child in a wheelchair and I remember thinking to myself how happy I was that my kids might have the opportunity to be in a classroom with a special needs child.
Well, not my finest hour, because once the wheels got turning it dawned on me that they do the Extended School Year (ESY) program for the special needs kids during the summer. Dylan was in it. So… Of course there would be special need kids in their class! Well, hello… the summer program for typical children was likely a way for the preschool to supplement the ESY program! Well, silly me! But, hello yay! There will be lots of kids with varying special needs in their class!
The next time I was in the preschool, I heard something about four children getting picked up for the bus so I specifically asked the Director how many ESY kids were in the classroom my boys were in. I was told between 4-6 kids. That’s 1/3 of the class that is special needs! When I asked, I was met with a questioning look, I don’t know if she anticipated me questioning it, or not approving or what but I think she was delighted to hear how happy I was about it! I love the idea of my kids being in a classroom with a more concentrated percentage of special needs kids!
This week my little Ian was delighted to see a little girl with Down Syndrome that he grew quite fond of last year while they were in the same class.
I wanted to share this with you and encourage you to look into the ESY programs for your school to see if they also have summer programs to integrate their children with varying special needs. I think Preschool is the perfect environment for inclusion, more so than for my globally delayed daughter than when they get up in elementary school, but more on that as we get closer to the school year. It’s a great age to teach children about inclusion and differences, and for that matter, similarities! Learning to accept others starts at such a young age.
I can’t wait to see what my boys take away from these few short weeks in the summer program. Have your typical children been in a group with a higher concentration of special needs children? Where do you take your special needs children to be with others? I would like to hear about it!
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