Our school is inclusive. Every child has a place in a mainstream classroom, with assistance if needed. J is one of those kiddos. He has an assigned a teacher, participates in nonacademic activities and projects, and has ‘specials’ like art, music and PE with his typical peers, all with the help of a one-on-one para. Now in the 2nd grade, J has worked hard to give himself 15 minutes at a time in the mainstream classroom before coping with the activities becomes too much for him. However, one of the experiences that’s missing from J’s school week is having a parent come in to volunteer.
You see, parents are welcome to volunteer at varying times and days in a typical classroom, but it’s different for the SSN (Severe and Significant Needs) room since it can be so disruptive to the students. J being one of those students, we are just now able to walk him to his classroom in the morning and leave without it creating an entire day’s worth of meltdowns. Coming in at any time besides morning drop off results in catastrophe. Even feeling as though his SSN room is more of his classroom than the “assigned” classroom, I have been unable to volunteer. Me being in the school, in his classroom where I don’t “belong” makes no sense to him. So I haven’t. Until this past Friday.
It was decided that I would come in just before school ended for the day, on a Friday, before spring break. I came in with the purpose of making a craft with the kiddos. An easy enough craft, achievable for all the ability levels of his classroom to complete with minimal assistance. I brought all materials and looked forward to seeing all the kiddos in his classroom that I’ve already gotten to know. This was our craft l (thank you to whomever tweeted link).
One excited boy did all that he could before making his way to a swing for comfort. Another boy made it all the way through, enjoying the project and doing an amazing job. Other kiddos were off enjoying the end of the day doing other activities in other rooms. J melted.
The instant he saw me, he broke down. The best inquiries he could make were about a train he believed I should have brought him, fresh and new from a store, or where the blue dragon was. There was no interest in the project which held two of his favorite things, rainbows and things that flutter in the breeze.
The melting lasted for the 40 minutes I was there. The walk to the car. A drive to try to calm him. While picking up his siblings and making our way home. He melted for 2 hours….because I came into his classroom…at a time where I didn’t ‘belong’ there…to do a project…without a train or dragon.
I think we still have work to do.