A Letter To Our Son’s Teachers On His First Day Of Preschool

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All ready for his first day of school!

Wow, I seriously can’t believe that in less than an hour our little boy will be playing, learning, having fun, and making friends at his new preschool class!

We have opted to put Noah in a typical private and all day preschool as opposed to a school that is for children with Down syndrome. I know there are lots of opinions out there when it comes to a child’s eduction (regardless of needs) so if you choose to go another route that’s ok also! This is just the way we choose to go. Noah’s doing great, and we can’t wait to see how he does being around typical children all day.

Noah’s the only child with Down syndrome at this particular school so my wife wrote this letter last that that we are going to print out and give to his teachers this morning. I thought I’d share with you.

Needless to say I’m one proud daddy! I love this little boy so-so-so-so much and I’m super excited to see him begin this awesome chapter in his life!

And yes,I’m going to be that dad this morning. The one snapping pictures like crazy. In fact I’m even brining my external flash. I’m about to go TMZ in here!

Dear Teachers

I would like to take a moment to introduce you to our son Noah Smith. He is joining your class today and we are so excited for this next journey in his life. We wanted to take a few minutes to tell you a little bit about our son and let you know that we welcome any questions you may have (we’re super proud of him, and love to talk about him.)

Our son was born with Down syndrome which means that he has an extra copy of his 21st chromosome. I don’t know if you have had the pleasure of knowing anyone with Down syndrome so I hope you don’t mind if I tell you a little bit about what that means. Noah has certain characteristics that are common for children who have Down syndrome including upslanted eyes, low set ears, being a little smaller than you expect for someone his age, but his biggest challenge is hypotonia.

Hypotonia does not mean that he is weak it just means that his muscles are more relaxed. You will find him a bit limp when you pick him up. It has made it challenging to reach his gross and fine motor skills and even affects his mouth with forming sounds. We have been working with an occupational and physical therapist since he was 3 weeks old and he has been doing awesome with that. (He will continue to do therapy on Monday afternoons after school.)

He started walking this summer and is getting more stable every day. You may hear that ALL children with Down syndrome are angels or just the happiest children ever. While our son may be pretty happy, I think you will find that he also gets pretty stubborn, can get upset and cry, and have any emotion that a typical child goes through. In other words, he is no angel. ☺

Down syndrome however is only part of our son and we also want you to know other things about him. Our hope is that he is fully included in a classroom and makes friends as well as learns. He is very curious and likes to explore. You can see his imagination is starting to grow as he is playing with toys. He likes to climb, so you may want to watch your bookcases and tables. It is not ok for him to be sitting on tables no matter how cute he looks up there. He loves music and dancing. He likes looking at books and being read to. He enjoys rolling a ball back and forth and playing peek-a-boo. You will find his laugh is quite contagious.

Don’t let him fool you, he does understand the word no. We expect him to uphold the same rules as other children and to be disciplined when needed. If the appropriate behavior is shown to him, he will likely follow along. He learns best by seeing and then mimicking. It may take him longer to process what is said to him so please be patient with him. We have noticed that when we are singing songs if we give him time to process the hand movements and don’t rush he will copy what we are doing. I think you will find that he is pretty smart and an excellent problem solver. We are so excited to see how he does surrounded by typical children for him to model himself after.

Although he does not have words yet he knows many signs and is working on his receptive language. He will spontaneously use “eat”, “drink”, “milk” and “more”. He will mimic many more signs specifically “please”, “thank you” and “sorry” which I hope you encourage him to use. If you have any questions about signs, we would be happy to help with that. We are working with a speech therapist currently at an outside facility and we hope that this year will be the year of a speech explosion for our little man.

The most important thing about our son is that he is a child first just like any other child. He wants to play and learn. This is reflected in the language that we use. You will never hear us say Down’s child he will always be a child who has Down syndrome. This is called people first language. We are not big fans of the r word (retarded). We do not like to refer to children without delays as normal but as typical.

If you have any questions about him or Down syndrome we hope you feel comfortable enough to ask us. My husband has created a blog for our son which we have used to show the world what it is like raising a child with Down syndrome that has videos and helpful tips. Feel free to check it out at Noahsdad.com.

We are very proud of our son and love him more than we could ever express. He isn’t sick or suffering. He was simply born with an extra copy of his 21st chromosome. Thanks for the role you are playing in his life, and thank you for all you do to invest in our children. We appreciate you, and hope you’ll love our son just as much as we do.

We look forward to getting to know each of you more.

Abbie and Rick Smith

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About Rick Smith

Hi, I'm Noah's Dad and I'm passionate about giving the world a window into our life as we raise our son who was born with Down syndrome. I also enjoy connecting with other families, so let's stay connected.

Comments

  1. That is a great letter! How did the teachers respond? Is he doing well in school?

  2. What an absolutely beautiful letter! :) Taking the initiative in that way will go MILES in developing supportive relationships with Noah’s teachers. Way to go! Thank you for being such great, transparent role models.

  3. This is a beautiful letter! I for one look forward to reading how preschool assists Noah.

  4. I wish u all, all the best…Good Luck Noah <3

  5. Beautiful!!! Well said! I think you will happy with your choice of type of school! Erica, now 22 was included in typical classrooms until graduation. It was good for everyone! Good luck to Noah!!

  6. Cimbry Hansen says:

    I love this letter! The wording couldn’t be more perfect! Our son has his eval next month for school and I’m so excited to see him play and learn!

  7. Kimberley says:

    Wow! Abbie, what a thoughtful and articulate letter. It is very disarming and so I hope they will take the time to read and absorb it!

    Thank you so much for sharing! Also, what type of preschool? A Montessori or Christian or something different? I’m curious because I am looking at options right now for our girl.

  8. As a preschool special educator for children with moderate/severe disabilities, I applaud your decision to include him in a typical preschool. Wishing him a wonderful year of learning!

  9. Tracy Thornton says:

    I LOVE this letter!! I was debating on whether to send one on Chambers first day in Mother’s day out–this is absolutely perfect!! She is only going one day a week and then we have The Bell Center here where she is going two days a week with therapy from the state twice a month. I may have to copy a few lines!! Thank you for sharing!!

  10. What a great way to remind the teachers that our children aren’t really that different after all!! Love it!

  11. Heather Simmons says:

    What a fantastic start for Noah at his school! The letter is just brimming with love and good sense. You’ve given the class teacher and the school a great gift here…first of all in entrusting your lovely boy to them…and by giving them yourselves and the opportunity to learn from you and your family.
    Every good wish for the journey ahead…
    H

  12. Wonderful advocacy for your son. Advocating early on makes a difference in how teachers will relate to your son and as he gets older, talking to his peers too.
    Bravo for your efforts on behalf of your beautiful Noah.

  13. Tammy Harris says:

    What a blessed little boy Noah is to have great parents like you!

  14. Such a beautiful letter. You have educated me on Down syndrome so I thank you. I follow Noah and he’s been such a darling to watch grow especially his dancing lol myself and my family adore him. You have a beautiful family. And thank you for sharing all that you do.

  15. Jeana Davis Stidham says:

    You are absolutely doing the right thing putting him in a school with typical children. Your letter was perfectly worded and you will be such a good advocate for your son. I agree 100% that he needs to abide by the same rules as everyone else. My son is 15 years old and we have always insisted he follow the same rules as the other children. He will learn so much from his peers and his speech will truly “explode” as he interacts with his friends. At this age, the children will embrace him and help him. When my son was in Kindergarten and first grade, the other children were so good to him and they helped him in any way they could. Please continue to set high goals for Noah and don’t settle for anything less. I can’t tell you that it will be easy, but you certainly have started him off on the right road. I enjoy seeing your beautiful family and I wish Noah the best.

  16. Camille Hanzalik says:

    What a beautiful letter! Thank you for sharing Noah is so blessed to have a wonderful family. I enjoy all the pics and videos and hope to see more and more!

  17. Kathryn Dorsey says:

    I love this letter.I really do enjoy the daily post and pics I see on Facebook.Thank you for sharing his life with us.

  18. this is a lovely letter,I really hope his teacher is great too,I’m sure she’ll do everything to make Noah feel welcome,and he goes home happy after his big adventure in going to school,it’s daunting for any child,so ihope he loves it,I don’t have a child with with Downs Syndrome, but they said our 2nd granddaughter had the markers ,and to be prepared ,she was born fine,so they said my daughter -in -law must have had a virus or something,make of that what you will,but I fell in love with your family, when I watched Noah’s birth video,I wish you and your family all the very very best,all my love ..Anne xx

  19. <3 Love love love your blog. so much positivity and so many smiles are shared. The 4 of you are totally cool!

  20. Teresa Law says:

    I have been following Noah a long time but sure when I started getting your Facebook postings.

    I want to let you know that you all have blessed my morning-afternoon-evening-night, depending on when I finally catch your post on Facebook.

    Your family is showing that kids are kids and parents are parents, in any and all situations.

    And love is shared always.

    God loves all His Children where ever they are at.

    He see each of us as perfectly made in His Image. Do we understand that not always but we are in His image. And He loves it
    Loves it all
    So do we or should.
    Thank you for allowing God to work through you and your family to open eyes to this world that has seem to be closed to so many minds.

    I grew up for many years with a Noah in my neighbor hood her name was Terry and I loved to see things through her eyes. So simple so uncomplicated but yet such a complicated mind we all have and use differently. And will be for as long as we are on this God given Earth to enjoy.

    Thank you again.

    But I do have one question, it sure has taken me a long time to get to my question.

    How has Pre-School gone for Noah and his parents?
    And his classmates and parents?

    Teresa

  21. Johnnie Piercy says:

    I have been following Noah Post on Facebook. He is such a cutie. Will continue to look for post about his progress. God bless!

  22. Fiona D'Cunha says:

    I absolutely love the letter you wrote Noah’s teacher.

    I am in awe of all that you do as his parents. He is loved and this will be his biggest stepping stone forward.

    My brother and his family had a child with Downs Syndrome. His name is Blair. He was beautiful – a blessing in our lives. He was, is and will always be loved. April 8th marked 3 years since he went to be with Jesus. He died after being in a coma for 43 days because of a botched medical procedure that nicked his carotid artery… Our lives were forever changed when he passed away.

    Blair changed our perspective on life and how we view things. He was an active participant with SOAR and loved life. I am honored to be his aunt and his godmother.

    I wish you both and your sweet family, the very best. My thoughts and my prayers are with Noah as he embarks on this new adventure – school.

    Fiona

  23. Kimberly McClanahan says:

    I just wanted to say that I love your blog about Noah… He is blessed to have such wonderful parents. As for Noah himself, I love this kid! He is so adorable! I have been following your family on here, for about 6 months…. and will continue . God bless!

  24. What a wonderful letter to Noah’s teachers. How could they not love him too!

    Our Sophia Joy is almost the same age as Noah and we enjoy reading his web. She’s our Granddaughter……

  25. Jackie m says:

    Your letter was wonderful. We had the pleasure of our son having some wonderful teachers throughout his life. Although we did not put him in regular classes, he was in a special ed class but also was involved in the school in many ways. The most fantastic teachers he had were in elementary school and high school. Those teachers helped my son become who he is today. Fortunately, the children at the schools were very receptive to Michael. What also helped was that his sister was 2 years behind him. So, many of her friends became Michael’s friends also. I wish you all the best on your journey.

  26. Dawn Omar says:

    Hi, good luck, our daughter is in reception, because she doesn’t speak much and is very determined our local education authority (UK) has stated that the best option is for her to go to a special education school to meet her needs and development. Being in main stream school has been a challenge and she has come on as far as she can, and the school feel that her needs are out of there sphere. This being so she has made good friends, and her whole class know & love her, we are making the transition during the summer term, but we know she is going to miss her teachers and special needs assistant, but the one person she’ll miss is Jo her shadow, Jo has been with my daughter since Nursery and moved up from there to reception with her. Over all we have seen our daughter develop in main stream school, but needs more specialist education to bring her forward.

    Noah is going to love pre-school and if this journey has taught me is that every child is different, has different needs but most of all they are just like other children growing and developing at their own speed. Have fun – the Omar family UK.

  27. That was a wonderful letter brought great joy to my heart. I hope that Noah is enjoying school learning lots and making friends. He is one lucky kid to have such loving caring and devoted parents as yourselves. God Bless

  28. Hi there! Our little boy will be 2 next month and is starting preschool in the fall.
    I want to send a similar letter to his school for the teachers and his classmates’ parents. Would it be okay if I used your letter as a guide?

    Your words are always so encouraging.

    Thank you!

    Taegon’s mom

  29. Geraldine Mallon says:

    What a great idea…….thank you for sharing, I hope Noah settles in well at pre-school and I look forward to reading about his progress. I am sure he will make lots of new friends (his social life will get busier and his next birthday party will have twice as many guests as his last one. Lol). Good luck to you all. x

  30. I remember my best friend’s mom telling me this about her son with Down Syndrome…. It may look cute now, but it won’t look cute when he’s 25

    • What a rude and vicious thing to say, Paula. Shame on you. Nobody looks as cute at 25 as they did at 3; not people like me, not people like Noah, and certainly not people like you- people whose ugliness shines bright and glaring from the inside out.

      The difference between you and Noah is that Noah is will be more loved by his family and friends at 25. My guess is you experience far less love in your life to have developed such an outlook and to be emboldened to say such vicious things.

  31. I love your reply to Paula miss Erika. She must have an ugly soul I applaud these parents . What a wonderful letter

  32. Linda Green says:

    I drive school bus and have transported children with downs syndrome , I think that the letter you wrote on behalf of you child is fabulous. The information that you have shared with his teacher will be a great help in better understanding you child’s needs and goals as well as your expectations for him.. If your child rides a bus to school I would recommend that the letter also be shared with his driver & bus aid to make his bus ride more enjoyable. We always appreciate when a parent shares information which is pertinent to the childs’ well being.

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