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Here's how parents can support inclusion

education positive mindset public outings Mar 09, 2022
 

Our charter school does a lot of things right. At the top of that list is their genuine belief in Tosh's potential.

But I have to say, their dedication to inclusion is a very close second. Our charter, JCS-Pine Hills, provides weekly enrichment opportunities for homeschool students. Tosh is welcomed at them all. Not just tolerated, welcomed. Celebrated, even!

It didn't happen on its own.

Today we spent the afternoon at an art studio, participating in a mainstream painting class. Tosh was provided structured enrichment learning and got in some free play and socializing with peers, too.

THIS IS WHAT PUBLIC EDUCATION CAN AND SHOULD BE!

We left our neighborhood public school for many reasons, and a lack of inclusion was one of them. Special education students in our district are intentionally excluded so they won't diminish the experience for the mainstream kids.

Yes, they actually said that.

I don't have anything good to say about our district, so I won't say anything more. After all, my mom is on my mailing list. LOL

Yes, schools have a moral and legal responsibility to provide inclusion. However, they can't make magic happen on their own. Here are three things you can do to help foster inclusion.

1. It's our responsibility as parents to show up. I know a number of parents who complain online about a lack of community activities for their special needs kids, but these same parents never turn up when the community provides them. Meltdowns and bad days happen, but too often, it's just us and one or two other families at special needs night. Schools and municipalities don't have money to waste on zero participation.

2. Parents must be bold and ask. Even at our wonderful school, I've had to blaze some trails for Tosh and others. I've never had to fight for anything, but I have had to ask. Schools have a lot of students and they don't always think about your kid. The squeaky wheel gets the grease!

3. Be willing to try again. Tosh does pretty well in public, but we've made plenty of scenes. Just last summer he had a full blown meltdown at our local aquatic center that got pretty ugly. That's okay, it happens! The only way to learn how to socialize is to do it, which means inevitable failure along the way. This is a great opportunity for parents to foster a growth mindset and work on their own emotional regulation. ;o) And never, ever punish your student when things go south. Make it clear that if they have to leave today, they can try again next time. Success is not a straight line!

We'll be back for more painting in a couple of weeks, and then I think we'll move on to pottery when it's offered in April. Don't be afraid to leave a bad public school situation and try homeschooling on your own or through a charter. There are existing opportunities for your student and opportunities waiting to be made.

The rewards are worth the effort, I promise!

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