Recently I received an email from her teacher that they were excited share that they were going to start working on mainstreaming Courtney into the regular first grade for 30 minutes a day. I’m guessing most parents of children with special need’s would start jumping for joy. I did not. I wanted so bad to jump for joy, I really did. But instead I felt nothing but concern and doubt. this wasn’t completely sprung on me since we did talk about it at her IEP meeting but it still didn’t feel right. Especially during a time where her anxiety and aggression has been high.
I’m a special need’s educator. I’ve seen mainstreaming in action. I’ve seen amazing things with mainstreaming and inclusion and I’ve seen horrible things. I’m a firm believer that if a child can handle it in any sort of way, it should be tried. I am also a firm believer that it is not for every child. I’ve always questioned if Courtney is truly cut out for mainstreaming. I can’t help but wonder if that time can be better spent on more 1-1 instruction.
I ended up emailing the teacher first thing Monday morning explaining my hesitation. I also told her that I do have faith in the team and that they wouldn’t push her if she wasn’t ready. Of course the teacher reassured me that they will back off if they see it’s too much.
Every day this week I waited for that message that said she couldn’t handle it, but each day I heard the opposite. Courtney did well. Courtney was happy in the other class. Courtney did ask to “go” early but did well while she was in there. Then on the 4th day in her bag was this beautiful portrait with a sticky note that said, “made for Courtney by a first grade classmate”. This picture captured Courtney beautifully! Her brown hair, her big eyes, her pink headphones, the blue and white polka dot mask that sits below her nose. My heart melted.
Here’s the thing. Mainstreaming and inclusion isn’t just for the child with special need’s. It’s for the “typical” children too. I want other children to accept Courtney for who she is and for that to happen, they need to spend time with Courtney. I wish I didn’t have so much doubt at the beginning of the week but I’m ending the week filled with joy that it went well!