Just yesterday Braeden resumed preschool after an overly-extended holiday vacation.
He attends preschool at the Copper Harbor one room schoolhouse twice a week for two hours a day. I don't yet have the luxury of dropping him off, leaving and going about my day, but that time is coming. Instead, I stay with him.
Most days I leave the room while he learns with the other kids and teacher, but yesterday I accompanied him.
I'm glad I did.
The things I saw him accomplish as an individual and saw him teach the other kids filled my heart with pride, hope and love.
The first thing that made me beam was during story time. The teacher read Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Suess. Even if you don't know the story of Yertle (which I highly recommend), you probably know the rhythmic cadence and flow of Dr. Suess' words.
Once Braeden heard the teacher start to read, he got out of his chair and looked closely at the picture, obstructing the view from the other kids.
"Braeden, come sit in your chair," I told him.
"He's fine," the teacher assured.
Then he turned around, faced the students, and, while she swayed Dr. Suess' words, he began to orate with his arms. If you haven't seen him do this, I highly recommend it. You can click HERE to watch him in action.
So there I sat, watching my three year old son with "special needs" standing in front of the students and gesturing with his arms along to the teacher's words as if he was acting out the story.
I should have taken a video.
I know. I say that a lot. But sometimes enjoying the moment is more important than trying to capture it for the rest of the world.
The second thing to nearly make me pee my pants (not supposed to do that in school) was when we were sitting together on the rainbow mat looking at letter flashcards. He loves those things. Each letter has a picture of an animal or object that starts with that letter right behind it.
Since we have been working on saying the sounds of letters, I had him make the sounds of the letters on the cards. But instead of asking, "Can you say 'g'?" or "Can you say 'b'?" I asked him, "Can you tell me this sound?"
And do you know what he did?
He read the letter and told me the sound. Do you realize what that means??? That means that he can look at a letter, understand which letter it is, and verbalize the sound it makes. That is how reading starts. My little boy is starting to read out loud, and he doesn't even talk yet.
Now, he doesn't do all the sounds. He can read B, H, G, P, M and A correctly. At least he did that day at school! Oh, man. I was and still am so proud of him. He's making strides, that little boy!
And the third thing to make my heart smile was when the teacher asked him to show the kids how to sign "thank you." The sign for thank you looks similar to blowing a kiss, with your finger tips touching your chin and arching downward.
He showed the students, and I confirmed it with a little more precision. Then it hit me. My son is helping to teach them another language.
There was little Brady P., the youngest kid in the school, and he was teaching the students his first language. They know "more," "yes," "thank you," "please," "eat," and probably a couple other so far. The first few of many, I hope.
The second language being informally taught at the Copper Harbor schoolhouse has stemmed from my son's extra chromosome and my desire to help him communicate. Kind of a little thing, but kind of a big thing too.
See? We are already promoting acceptance and expanding learning. Yes. This is just the beginning.
Amanda--as someone who has worked with students in the k-12 school, as a mother, and simply as a human being, this post is the most real and insightful piece I have read in such a long time. I hope it inspires all who read it to stop and remember what is important in each of our lives.ReplyDelete
I spent too much time grieving what might have been for my life, until I realized what I have actually done by being a mother, respecting and learning from the students, and just working to be a better person.
Thank you again for reminding me what is important. Mo