16 Things Parents of Children With Down Syndrome Want Their Teachers to Know

Whether it’s the first day of school or halfway through the school year, a parent’s hopes for his or her child are often the same — I hope he has a great day today. I hope she loves what she learns. A pivotal part of this is the child’s teacher, the person entrusted to guide, nurture and help make those hopes a reality. And one of the first steps toward this is a better understanding of the child being taught.

We teamed up with Special Miracles to ask parents of children with Down syndrome what they wish their teachers knew — what would help them better understand their kids and all of the hopes, expectations and great potential they bring to the classroom.

These are just some of their answers:

1. “My son will be starting kindergarten in the fall, and I hope they push him in a positive manner and allow him to grow and feel special not because he has Down syndrome, but because he is just amazing!” — Renee Raffino

2. “There is no limit on what they can do. Children with Down syndrome are like any other child — unique in their own way.” — Cindy Oliver Hill

There is no limit on what they can do. Children with Down syndrome are like any other child -- unique in their own way.

3. “Don’t finish her sentences. It takes a moment to go from thought to words. Give her just a second to get the words out.” — Bret Overholtzer

4. “Always have a positive attitude. If you have doubts with my child, then he will doubt himself.” — Laura Maher

5. “Don’t assume he cannot learn or do something. Realize his potential!” — Mickele Costello-Yates

Don't assume he cannot learn or do something. Realize his potential!

6. “I wish his teacher knew how much it means to me to have someone take him and guide him, for the majority of his waking hours, in a way I know and trust. I wish she knew the peace she has given me, just knowing he is safe, loved and understood for those hours.” — Jennifer Her Many Horses

7. “Remember he is loved, as all children should be.” — Sue Shorley

8. “Help them to reach beyond even your expectation. Always believe in them. I do.” — Kristen Hershey

9. “We don’t all fit in the box. Some of us are perfectly perfect in an imperfect world.” — Jo Baca

We don't all fit in the box. Some of us are perfectly perfect in an imperfect world.

10. “Just because she won’t do something doesn’t mean she can’t. You have to find the right way to motivate her.” — Amy Yoshie

11. “My son with Down syndrome has hopes and dreams for his future, just like his high school peers.” — Pam Trimble Ginet

12. “I wish they knew my son is a person, not a statistic… He is a handsome young man first and foremost.” — Sharon Mthunzi

13. “I hope my grandson’s teachers know how very capable he is in so many ways… I hope they let him try things on his own. Not to mention he’s got it all figured out! Watch out world!” — Pat Miles O’Keefe

14. “I want my son’s teachers to have patience, gentleness and understanding with him. He understands more than you think he does. He learns by example and observation. Praise will encourage him to do his best when he does accomplish the task he is given. He loves to be busy, and he feels proudest when he is helping out. He enjoys being read to. Most of all, he just wants to have the same opportunities as other children his age and loves to be included in things just like any other child… You will be amazed at what he can and will do in the future with the right guidance and support!” — Liza Jeremy Kane

15. “Open your mind. Don’t underestimate him. Don’t limit him. Assume nothing. He has more to teach you than you could ever have to teach him.” — Maxine Sinda Napal

16. “Give her wings and help her fly.” – Erica Ramsey

Give her wings and help her fly.

*Some responses have been edited and shortened for brevity and clarity.

What would you add to this list? Share with us in the comment section below.

Have you seen the first film with a national release to star a person with Down syndrome? Check out the film “Where Hope Grows” today!

Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.

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