Step 1: Dilemma

In Step 1 you will hear and read about two perspectives on a practice dilemma. The dilemma is about a child’s transition to preschool viewed through the eyes of both the family and the receiving teacher.

Meet Melanie A. She is a teacher in an NAEYC accredited program that serves children two through five years of age. Melanie’s program is a small (two classrooms) full-day child care center. Melanie just learned that Tamiya, a three-year-old with multiple developmental delays will be joining her class of 12 other children next month.

After watching the videos, complete Activity 2.1a by describing the dilemma.

Video 2.1: The teacher’s viewpoint

Melanie A., a teacher in a community-based childcare program shares a dilemma about the transition of Tamiya, a two year old girl turning three with developmental delays, joining her classroom. (running time: 1 min. 55 sec.)

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Melanie A.

Tamiya won’t be the first child I’ll care for with a disability. Nor will she be the last. I’ve been working in an inclusive child care program for 3 years now in a classroom of 12 children ages 2 & 3. I’m happy to be caring for and loving a beautifully diverse group of children, each touching my heart in their own way. But for the first time, I’m scared. I’m actually afraid and doubting whether I can care for Tamiya. Can I keep her healthy and safe?

Tamiya’s main challenges are her health issues. She is a fragile little girl who needs lots of medical attention. She can’t eat or drink on her own and needs to be tube fed. She evidently can drink a little water on her own, but even that has to be carefully monitored. I recently finished the coursework to earn my bachelor’s degree in early childhood education but I’ve never even seen tube feeding before, let alone done it myself. What if she gags? Or chokes? Can I handle this in a setting full of busy preschoolers?

I know that our classroom environment could be a wonderful place for Tamiya to grow and learn while addressing some of her other developmental delays. She’s been at home with mom since birth receiving early intervention services, so this will open up a whole new world for her. Having new play experiences and interacting with other children could be a wonderful opportunity for her.

Tamiya turns three in November and will be joining our classroom in just a few weeks. How should I be working with her mom and her early intervention providers and therapists to prepare myself and the rest of the staff for her arrival? We have to be ready for this transition.

Video 2.2: The family’s viewpoint

Rosemary, the mother of Tamiya, a two year old girl turning three with developmental delays shares her view on the upcoming transition of her daughter into a childcare program. (running time: 2 min. 27 sec.)

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My little baby girl is on her way to preschool. I would guess every parent goes through a mix of emotions at this stage, but as a parent of a child with disabilities, these worries are bigger for me. I want Tamiya to grow and develop, to play and make friends, but most importantly I want her to be safe and happy. Yes, I’m nervous about letting go, but my husband and I agree that this is what’s best not only for Tamiya, but for our family as a whole.

I know the teachers and staff at the childcare center are concerned too. And I understand. Believe me, I didn’t know what was in store for our family when Tamiya was born. Having a child with a disability isn’t something that you sign up for or that you plan for in advance. It just happens and your expectations of what it means to be a parent are turned upside down and yet somehow you manage to land on your feet. You do what it takes, you learn quickly, and I’m confident with the right support and guidance, the teachers can do it too.

Tamiya has been receiving early intervention services in our home. The service coordinator connected us with a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, and a wonderful physical therapist, who has been working with her since she was born. Tamiya is a very shy, quiet child and she has a hard time getting comfortable with people in a new situation. So, I’m worried how that will go in the new school and who will be providing her therapy. I really hope the staff at the center get to see the Tamiya that I know at home. She talks all the time and loves to sing and dance. But I know it is going to take her some time to get used to this new place and people.

I really want to help make sure that the staff is comfortable and confident in caring for Tamiya. I want to be open and honest with the information that staff need, and try to share what life is really like for us. Leaving Tamiya is going to be so hard for me. I hope the staff can help us, because this is a big transition for all of us.