Yesterday was a Thanksgiving Feast in Oliver's kindergarten classroom. All of the parents were invited to spend an hour in the classroom to celebrate. When I arrived, the kids were all finishing up their morning meeting in the front of the room. Once all of the parents were there, the kids each stood up to finish the sentence, "I am thankful for.....". The answers were adorable - friends, mommy & daddy, kittens, and math. As they neared the end the teacher asked who else needed to give their answer. It was so sweet to hear the kids say that Oliver still needed to take his turn. Oliver was busy paging through his Dora book, so his aide said he was thankful for Dora books. The students then all played a little game and then the feast began.
As the teacher was giving the feast instructions to the kids, I began talking with a mom. Her little girl always stops to say hello to Oliver each morning. She is so sweet and I wanted to let the mom know just how much it means to me to see Oliver befriended in that way. The mom was awesome and is (of course) a former special education teacher. She said she was so excited to learn about Oliver being a part of their classroom and believes fervently in inclusion. I was beyond excited to hear a fellow parent talk about the ways Oliver can have a positive impact on the classroom and how we need to see more of that.
I have felt very removed from the mainstream aspect of school. I don't think Waverly was ever included in a kindergarten activity, but slowly over the past few years the school has done a much better job of providing a more inclusive environment. Oliver's kindergarten teacher has done a great job of having Oliver be an active member of the class and her aide (who is a former preschool aide who worked with Oliver his last 2 years of preschool) is doing a great job with her knowledge of Oliver.
I was so encouraged by this mom. At times I sense distance from many of the other parents. I have to remind myself that it is most likely a lack of understanding rather than an intentional avoidance. I hope to become more engaged with the other parents to change that. I hope the other parents can see the valuable influence inclusion can have on their own child.