Tis the season! New backpacks, lunch pals, cute outfits & shoes! The kiddos are heading back (or already have) to school! Most parents are filled with all the feelings. Pride & nerves swirling together. I wanted to pop in and share with you all today a little snippet of my school aged days…..way back yonder.
Growing up I did not know anyone with Down syndrome, but I noticed the kids who played & learned differently than I did. I had questions, I was curious about what I saw as different. Now, I want you to understand at this point I did not think different equaled wrong or bad, just different. I was given very well meaning, but not helpful, answers to my questions. While I do not blame any of the adults in my life (because we all do the best we can with what we have), I know I missed out on some great friendships. As an adult I went searching for the answers, friends online taught with the simple, normal (what a goofy word, am I right?), ways they lived their lives and GiGi’s Playhouse Syracuse opened their doors and my world was turned upside down & shaken up in all the right ways! I learned through amazing teachers that different is amazing!
Kids are great at asking questions, right? We have all been in the middle of Target and had a kiddo yell out a question the may make us feel a little embarrassed, maybe you have quickly hushed your kids….I have too. It happens. BUT here is the thing, when it comes to questions about differences we can not hush our kids! We HAVE to talk about it. If we stay silent or avoid the conversation kids are given a pretty strong message….difference = bad. Yikes! Here’s some great news if you are reading this and thinking “i have no idea how to talk about difference” GiGi’s Playhouse and others are here to help. We love talking about Down syndrome, we love sharing about our lives that have been so brightened by this diagnosis!
Let me share a few of my favorite spots to get you started…..
*I love this blog post from a great GiGi’s mom, she offers up some great tips when the questions come! Read HERE.
*Last year my friend Kelle shared how they took a proactive approach to sharing about who their daughter is. What a great way to get some conversations started, and highlight all the good our kids bring to a class room! I know as a mom of typically developing kids I love this, because right off the bat it shows my kids how cool their class mate is and it opens the door to relationship! Read all about it HERE.
Kelle took this approach again this year and was happy to hear the following…”Just teared up with a text from her teacher–a photo of her classmates on the rug, all surrounding the school counselor who came in to her classroom today (while Nella was out) to teach the kids about Down syndrome, why Nella might do things a little differently, things they can do to support her and be her friend and facts about what she loves and how she is just like them. They were invited to ask questions–anything they wanted to know. Her teacher texted, “It went fantastic. They all want Nella’s phone number.”
*Maybe you are a parent who wants to make sure your kiddo will be thriving in an inclusive class room with a teacher who understand his/her unique potential. Check out this great Post!
Last but most certainly not least VISIT your local GiGi’s Playhouse! Everyone is welcome, bring your kids and join us in the fun work of changing the way the world views Down syndrome.
Let’s set up all of our kids to live big full Generation G filled lives. Ask questions, say hi, learn about each other.
Thanks for reading along, Heather Rodriguez