It seems hard to believe that the school year is coming to an end. In just a few short days our regular programming will be over. As I reflect on our last eight months together, it is easy to see how my students have progressed. They are learning to write and recognize their letters, they have practiced using manners, they've begun playing cooperatively and are now able to keep their bodies in control. What is maybe less obvious but more astounding is the transformation their parents have undergone!
The one benefit to our “no transportation” dilemma is that I do get to see and interact with each parent every day. They have all made a huge commitment to their children and to our world. Recognizing the importance of early childhood education and getting their children to school each day are two of the most important things they can do to ensure their kids' healthy development.
I am reminded of a mom who was nervous about her son, an English language learner. He was quiet and reserved in our classroom for the first 5 months of the school year. Every day, we would take steps to encourage him to use his words or participate in a classroom activity. His mother came in to ask me if she should just keep him at home because at least there he chooses to talk. I worked with her regularly so that she could reinforce the activities Sam was learning at school in their home. Now Sam is thriving -- and choosing to speak in school, too! He participates in every lesson and is using English as if it was his first language. Mom recently mentioned how much he has grown and added, “I feel like now I know what to do to help him.”
Another family in our class struggled to come to terms with their daughter's special education diagnosis. While early detection in pre-k helps Teresa and others obtain key supports and services sooner than they might otherwise, learning that a loved one will most likely always require additional help in classroom settings can initially prove difficult to swallow. But throughout this past year, Teresa has shown both her parents and me that she is ready to learn. At our conferences, her parents mentioned, “We didn’t know she could pour her own juice, use manners, or really play with another kid.” I reminded them that with practice, patience, and the proper tools children with special needs can achieve great successes. They are committed to helping Teresa achieve her goals and will actively support her throughout her development.
What a great feeling to know there are so many dedicated and caring parents out there! Parents and teachers will always have something to learn from one another, and I so appreciate having partners like these who are equally committed to helping their children develop into happy, healthy, and contributing citizens.