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I would be flat out lying if I said I was ready for Christmas. Our year has been a big challenge personally with my mother’s illness and recently school has been a big stress here lately. Someone is almost always in crisis and that has been ongoing since late July. All of this has made it hard to get in the mood to celebrate. My youngest daughter has special needs and for easily one month now has been really agitated at school, not wanting to go and struggling while there. The phone rings almost daily. The thing about special needs and disability, and FASD, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, in particular, is that our kids have the ability to succeed when supports are in place, but when someone removes a support well, it’s not unlike removing a parachute mid-flight during a sky dive. You always needed that parachute. You didn’t grow wings half way through the jump, even though at some point you might have looked comfortable enough to fly. So littlest child has been plummeting to the ground for a few weeks. I keep catching her. Thankfully her Dad and I have strong arms. But we get tired too.
If it were up to me entirely I would wave my magic wand and fix the schools for kids like my daughter.
I would give support where it is needed.
I would listen to the kids when they told me what they needed.
I would let them dance in the rain or snow on a Tuesday and do away with indoor recess. (Of course we would bring rainboots and raincoats and anything else needed, because we are prepared at my ideal school.)
I would refurbish, rebuild or renovate schools that are falling apart and bursting at the seams. (430 people in a school for 230 is a pitiful failure of adults not kids)
I would put a sensory room or a resource room in each of the new buildings so all the kids who needed to retreat to calm down, could do so.
I would find the teachers that had an understanding of FASD, or autism or Down’s syndrome, or ADHD and keep them with the kids that had special needs.
I would keep children at the centre of the system.
I would start with the understanding that kids always bring their A game.
I would fund and make certain that anyone who needed occupational therapy or speech therapy, got what they needed.
I would begin with the philosophy of love not fear.
I would always look for hands on opportunities to learn and supplement that with seat work, not vice versa.
Children of all abilities learn better when they feel safe and valued.