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What We Want for Our Kids With and Without Special Needs as the School Year Begins

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Dear Teachers,

I know you aren’t ready for the summer to be over — neither are we. I know you aren’t ready for new kids to enter your doors, new challenges, new personalities, new disabilities, and new routines. I know you get pressured to teach to the standardized tests and make sure all your students are up to par.

I want you to know that as a parent of five children, it is very important for our children to learn, grow, and thrive academically.  We want them challenged. We want you to push them and make them think out of the box.

But it doesn’t come down to standardized tests for us.

Because you know what? We want more.

We want them to be taught to be kind, courageous, compassionate, and respectful human beings.

We want them to address you as ma’am or sir.

We want them to put others first.

To win and lose gracefully.

To be humble.

To work harder when they fail. To never give up. To stay positive.

We want them to ask the child who just moved here from out of state to play at recess.

We want them to pack a safe lunch and sit with the child like our son who is at a secluded table because of his food allergies.

We want them to be a friend to the autistic child who has a very hard time talking to others.

We want them to stick up for the child who is being teased for his height, the way her skin looks, or the clothes she is wearing.

We want their first pick in gym class to be the little boy who struggles athletically or has physical disabilities.  And not because our children feel sorry for him, but because our children genuinely want him on their team.

We want them to never comment on someone’s physical appearance unless they are giving a compliment.

We want their hearts to break with the child who just lost a grandparent, and we want their hearts to celebrate with the child whose mommy just had a baby.

We want them to be held accountable for any mistake they make and to learn from it.

To not get sucked into gossiping and to never bully.

To know that every person is beautiful and made just as they’re meant to be, and to love them. Wholeheartedly.

You see, we truly want our kids to excel academically.  To earn good grades, go to college, and have successful careers. But we also know that will only get them so far.

Because life isn’t about the report card or the standardized test scores.

Life is about so much more.

When we meet with you at conferences, we will be concerned about our kid’s academics, but we will first ask about what matters most. Are they being kind, compassionate, and respectful?

So when you get overwhelmed with the pressure of test scores, the endless paper work, getting IEPs in order, or having every child at the proper reading level, remember there is so much more to your job.

Please join us in focusing on the important things. Guiding the kids to be polite, caring, human beings. Kids who will one day be a positive influence in this world. Kids who need to learn to accept everyone regardless of their differences.

So take a deep breath, smile, and let your love and kindness rub off on our children this year.

And if that happens, you have been successful.

Follow this journey on Mommy’s Love Marks.

Originally published: August 30, 2016
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