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.)
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.