3 Things I've Learned Since My Child With A Speech Delay Started Preschool
I’m sure my daughter has learned much this past year — her first year of preschool.
There are the lessons of knowing where to hang up your bag and coat each day. The lessons of waiting patiently before and after going to the bathroom. The lessons of washing hands before snacks and after playing outside.
Lessons about the alphabet, songs, and rhymes. Lessons about sitting quietly listening to a story. Lessons about learning hand motions and dances to songs. Lessons about creativity, painting, crafting, and drawing. Lessons about building. Lessons on nature. Lessons on animals. Lessons on sharing. (Oh the sharing!) Lessons on sign language.
It’s been one full year of preschool. I’ve seen such growth in my daughter.
Yet, I’ve also been the one to learn a few lessons this year. Lessons about what it means to be a mom to a child in school. Lessons in learning to let go. Lessons in patience and prayer. The lessons I’ve learned might not be as tangible as my daughter’s lessons, but they are foundational to my parenting.
So after one year, I share the lessons I’ve learned.
1. Words aren’t necessary.
My daughter has a speech delay. She has a handful of words and signs, but I’m constantly worrying about how others perceive her and how she’ll be able to communicate. She began preschool with barely 5 words. Throughout the course of the year her vocabulary has grown. I’m amazed at her determination in therapy and how hard she works to learn how to talk.
But what I’m equally impressed with is how she and the other children communicate without words. Watching Charlotte at school you see a girl full of smiles and joy. She laughs. She runs and cheers. She plays. She eats. Sometimes she plays alone and other times she’s right in the thick of it with all the other kids.
Thank you, dear children, for showing me that friendship communicates in a language all its own.
2. Friends can make the day brighter.
Halfway through the school year a new girl joined the class. I heard from the teachers that Charlotte took her under her wing. I witnessed plenty of hugs between the two. I heard over and over again this girl’s name. Anytime we mentioned school, she would say her name. Over and over again. She would smile. We could tell she was excited to see her friend at school.
Another boy in her class did the same for my Charlotte. The teachers told me how he would look out for Charlotte and sit by her. He’s so sweet to Charlotte, they’d tell me. Even at a young age, we can have friends and be a friend. We can welcome and we can be the one who needs a welcome.
Thank you friends of Charlotte for reminding me that friends make the world a brighter place.
3. Remember: I Love You.
At the end of each class, as many of the parents wait in the hallway chatting or checking their phones, you can hear the teacher sending the kids with her blessing. She tells them: “Remember, I love you.” Every day the kids hear that they are loved. Everyday this woman who is not family shares her love with the kids. Everyday the children go back home and into the world knowing they are loved.
Isn’t that the power of blessing? We go into the world knowing that life is not easy. That we will encounter hard things. That challenges occur. That people get sick. That violence hurts those we love. But in the midst of all of that, we offer blessings to people we meet. We love them. And we tell them of that love. We give our love away so that others can carry it with them.
Thank you, Ms. Carol, my daughter’s teacher, for modeling this powerful love. It makes a difference.
This is just the beginning: one year of preschool down, a lifetime of learning to come.