The school year is winding down. With the onslaught of end-of-year activities it is easy to skip over a time of reflecting. But take a moment to jot down a couple of things that worked well and maybe some things that didn’t. You will forget in the Fall if you don’t do it now. (Download this free worksheet.)
Kaity Tomlinson wrote a article in Bethany’s LifeLines Magazine how a mother of a special needs child explained the difference between equality and equity. “Equality…means everyone gets the same opportunities at the same time…equity is each person receiving the help they need to pursue the same opportunities.” I think this especially applies in the the education setting.
Equity should be the focus in for children with disabilities, not equality.
Nathan is having an amazing kindergarten year because he has amazing teachers who help him guide him toward reaching his next goal. I’ve learned that if the goals are off, everything is off. Therefore, we’ve spent a lot of time refining his goals to help him meet educational objectives. The single most important thing is that the goals be attainable for Nathan. The tricky thing is establishing the next step for him, however little-bitty it may be, while thinking about long-term goals. And whether the goals are short or long-term, he needs significant help to succeed in the opportunities placed before him. This is equity.
What equity has looked like this year:
His Gen Ed teacher places an iPad in front of him that is synced to the larger classroom screen. His CVI (cortical vision impairment) makes it hard for him to see further away and above his brow line.
The Art Teacher helps him and his Instructional Assistant create many beautiful pieces of artwork. Two of Nathan’s pieces were displayed in the District Art Show. All of this work is done hand-over-hand, but again, it helps him create art like everyone else in his class.
His ICAP teacher guided us through three different trials of communication devices and advocated for a path different from technology. Sign language is his most accessible form of communication right now she is supporting his use of it in class.
There are numerous other examples of how his educators, and even fellow students, have stepped above and beyond to provide extra special support in order that he have opportunities to learn too.
Giving Nathan opportunities typically means stepping back and breaking things down into smaller, more manageable goals. It means repetition, re-evaluating, and sometimes teaching things in a different way.
Many well-intentioned parents of special needs kids push inclusion hard. Over time it has formed into a basic human right and parents of kids with disabilities are relentless at fighting for equality.
But inclusion without support of the right people and resources is often fruitless.
I’ve worked hard to not take a hard stance on this because I don’t know what is right for Nathan in any given season or situation. I only know that equity will have to be the plum line for how we guide him throughout life–giving him the support he needs whenever a new opportunity presents itself. Maybe he will respond well, maybe he won’t, but together as a team, we will keep trying.
Here are some of the lovely things Nathan either participated in or learned about at school this year. What a sweet year. I only wish he could go to kindergarten for the next five years!
Scroll to the bottom for your free downloadable worksheet.
My book, Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent, is now available on Amazon!
Also be sure to check out my list of Favorite Books on Disability!