NOW Available for pre-order!

GUESS WHAT IS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER?!?!

When we listen to children who learn differently, we all benefit from seeing the world, ideas, and relationships in ways we could have never imagined.

Exceptionality isn’t easy, and it certainly doesn’t always feel beautiful. For children and families alike, learning differently often feels like temper tantrums, hurt feelings, and dead ends.

“Wait!!” I can hear you saying, “I thought this was an inspirational book about love and high-expectations?”

It is. I believe honesty is the most helpful form of inspiration. We all need a friend who tells it to us straight. I am going to do my best to practice courage and be that person.

Book Description

Advocating for a child who learns differently can sometimes feel like an isolating and daunting task. This book reminds families that they are not alone. When Your Child Learns Differently is a compassionate guide to help families navigate special education services from the inside out. Drawing on experiences as both a parent and special education teacher, the author shares valuable information about special education language, policy, procedures, and supports while reminding families that they are the most important advocates in their child’s success plan. Accessible and encouraging, this guide humanizes the journey of caring for children who learn differently. Readers will leave the book empowered with practical policy knowledge and energized by the belief that, with love and high expectations, almost anything is possible.

Prufrock Press, Available: November 1, 2019.

Click here to pre-order today!

Wired for Inclusion

Lessons from our early-elementary classrooms

I recently spent a morning working with and learning from first, second, and third graders at my daughter’s elementary school. As a high school and middle school principal, it’s been awhile since I’ve asked someone to sit criss cross applesauce or posed a question and watched as every hand in the room shot up. There’s nothing quite like that enthusiasm.

I also believe that young children are wired for inclusion. Throughout my career in education, I have been constantly inspired by the ways young children are quick to make friends with peers who are different from them.

This doesn’t mean they don’t see differences, it just means that these differences seldom impact whom they choose to color with, kick the ball with, or build a huge tower out of multicolored blocks with. It also doesn’t impact who they choose to give a hug to or receive a hug from.

I am working on a new project (announcement soon!!!) on supporting families whose children learn differently and so I have been thinking a lot about inclusion for our students with disabilities.

My first teaching position was in an early elementary classroom for students with disabilities. This position taught me everything I know about teaching. When we launched our program, I was teaching in what is called a “self-contained” classroom. The idea was that all of my students’ learning would “be contained” inside this classroom.

I had other ideas.

Learning should never be contained to the four walls of a classroom. I also didn’t want our class to be isolated from the broader school community. Therefore, I sought out every opportunity to make sure my students were included with their peers in the general education first-grade program and that those first graders were reciprocally included in our classroom.

Thanks to some critical colleagues who partnered with me on this endeavor, we adopted new collaborative approaches to managing our class rosters, we said yes to huge integrated projects like painting a mural or recording a CD together, and we took numerous field trips to learn outside of the classroom. These experiences made us better educators, and with hope, they made us better human beings too.

Do you want to learn more about inclusion? Spend time with a diverse group of young children, preferably during free play or art.

Will young children ask questions about why their friends are different? Of course. They ask questions about everything. Maybe they haven’t yet had a friend with physical disabilities or a friend who uses assistive technology. However, their curiosity is usually satiated with a simple, straightforward answer. This helps me talk; these help me walk; this helps my weaker eye grow stronger. A few words saying this is who I am and what I need is usually all it takes for children to get back to the important business of playing, learning, and making friends.

That we could we all be so wise.

With hope, Dr. KFW