July 11, 2016

By Loreta Boskovic, Information Specialist

Each summer, FACT Oregon puts together a back-to-school checklist that is intended to help families ease their way back into the school routine. Dusting off the IEP folder, updating your child’s person-centered profile with new information, getting them to bed a little earlier as September approaches… These are all great strategies that make a return to school that much easier on everyone.

But this year’s back-to-school checklist is a little different. FACT Oregon would like to thank Lisa Friedman over at Jewish Special Needs Education: Removing the Stumbling Block for her wonderful image, “The ABC’s of Inclusion.” (Haga click aquí para ver la imagen en Español.)

Using this visual as a back-to-school checklist came about in a moment of self-reflection. Too often, I find it’s easier for me to react to a task at hand rather than change the way I look at it. I’m a “do’er,” someone who fixes problems (I think that’s written into the Mom job description!), so you can imagine the challenge I have in settling my mind and being present, in the moment, with my family sometimes.

With this in mind, I will put it out there that the really important back-to-school preparations are spelled out in “The ABC’s of Inclusion.” Regardless of whether your child is in general education, a self-contained classroom, or somewhere in between, these are values with which every parent raising a child experiencing disability can agree: “Accept differences.” “Collaborate.” “Hold high expectations.” “Never give up.” “Reserve judgement.” “Zealously pursue success.” Reflect back on your student’s school year – did their teachers follow these principles? Did you? Because these principles can – and should – extend outside the walls of a classroom to reach into the places where your child goes: stores, community centers, centers of faith, and recreation halls, all the way back into your home.

There are 26 to-do’s listed, and we have 30 days ahead of us in August. My goal is to be mindful of doing one – just one! – with my kids every day for the rest of the month, and then look back when school starts to see how it felt. My hope is that these ABC’s become part of a “new normal” which will make us all feel better prepared to face the challenges and joys of a new school year.