Simon has officially completed his Early Education Program (EEP).
They had a great little graduation ceremony last night celebrating all the kids.
The three of us have grown so much over the time Simon has been enrolled in the EEP and EC Cares (he began this program back in September 2005). Loved going back and seeing my post from his very first day there – he was such a little guy.
The EEP is a reverse-mainstream preschool classroom that welcomes both special needs and typically developing children in a small setting with a very low teacher-student ration (about 15 kids + 5 teachers). The value in having the kids all together is tremendous.
In the very beginning, in my profound naivety and ignorance, I remember thinking and questioning why a parent of a typically developing child would want to put their kids in this program? Now I know – more than I ever thought possible – I know. We have so much to learn from one another regardless of our abilities, our incomes, our needs, etc. Simon teaches me this every single day – I am such a better person because of him. I am so thankful that there are parents out there willing to enroll
their typically developing kids in this sort of program. They learn so much from
one another as they model behaviors, develop empathy (this is huge – we could all use a bit more of this), demonstrate language, and share their educational experience.
It was pretty emotional for me as we left last night. Giving each teacher a hug I held on pretty darn tight. These teachers have been with Simon from day one (I really think that consistency was key) and they have made such a difference in his life. I don't know that I could ever effectively communicate that to each one of them.
They taught him to love school. They challenged him in his language. They helped us develop systems here at home that make him successful and our lives a bit calmer. They taught him about making choices and following instructions. They worked with him on trying different foods (and were much more successful than we have been at home). They promoted interaction with other kids every chance they could find. They listened to our stories and answered our questions and were always available for a chat. They encouraged him every single time he walked in the door whether he melted down to the floor crying or came in with a huge smile. And most important, they loved him 100% for who he is an individual.
They are seriously something special.
I know they are excited for him to move on to kindergarten. And because of their hard work and patience and persistence and love, he is ready and looking forward to his "new school." In fact he has been ready to go and asking to go for the last few weeks.
After the party we did a bit of celebrating on our own. We drove over to the new school and looked in the windows and played on the playground before heading over to one of our favorite little restaurants, Laughing Planet.
Today we are playing trains and staying in our jammies for as long as we can.