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To My Son With Down Syndrome as You Start Kindergarten

Dear Evan,

I cannot believe we’re finally here. We’ve spent the last five years preparing for this. You’re starting kindergarten, and we’re so proud of you and love you so much!

When you were first born, your daddy and I knew only a little bit about Down syndrome, and we were so worried for you. We were afraid that learning would be hard for you, and we wondered what you would be able to do. Would you be able to read? Would you be able to use a computer? Would you be able to communicate with us?

It didn’t take us long to figure out that those worries were silly. You began amazing us as a baby, and you continue to do so today. You’ve shown us your love for learning. You already know your letters and their sounds. You’re starting to figure out how to sound out words, and you’re already reading several words. You’re even spelling your name and a few other words, and all of this seems to have come so easily to you. You figured out how to scroll through pictures on my phone when you were only a year and a half, and you are a whiz with the iPad. Speaking has proven to be your biggest challenge, but you’re putting three to four words together, and when you really want something or are really upset, you manage full sentences nicely.

You have an amazing sense of independence, and you know what you’re capable of. You’re making your bed, sometimes without being asked. Last weekend, when I tried to help you on the soccer field, you dismissed me, telling me to sit down. What you were really saying was you were ready to do this on your own, and you were right. It’s not the first time you’ve done something like that, and I’ve learned you are the best judge of what you’re able to do. When you tell me you don’t need me, you don’t need me. I’ve learned to trust your instincts.

The author's son standing behind a frame that says "My 1st Day of Kindergarten"

I am not worried at all about your kindergarten readiness. I know you’re prepared for this and that you belong in that classroom fully included with “typical” children. You’ve worked hard. You learn fast. You are capable. You are competent.

But I do worry about other things, like whether everyone in the school will believe in you as much as your daddy and I do, whether kids will be nice to you or tease you, or whether you will be invited to the birthday parties the other children will be invited to. We will navigate all that together.

We expect so much from you, Evan, because we know you and we know your capabilities. You can achieve so much and can be successful in school. We know there are so many possibilities for you as long as we all work hard together. Your mommy and daddy are committed to working with your team at school to ensure that high but reasonable expectations are placed on you, and we’re prepared to challenge those who don’t have those high expectations.

Kindergarten will be the first step in this big-kid journey, and I am so excited to be on this journey with you.


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