I can’t believe it's November already — time for the first round of parent-teacher conferences for Kindergarten.

It brought me back to memories of last year’s conference. Pre-k 4 was so different. It was a true inclusion class run by a special education teacher and the classroom provided a lot of support and individual interventions for all of the students which set the bar of expectations high for me as a parent.

Last year’s meeting started when her teacher told me how much she loved Ally’s quirky personality. That Ally was funny, sweet, and special.

She told me all of…

This morning my six-year-old daughter cried because she didn’t get a turn to show her reindeer picture to her class on Zoom. At first, I thought she would get over it in a few minutes and so I let her cry.

Ten minutes later she was still crying. Sobbing, snotty tears.

Clenched angry fists.

Inconsolable emotions.

She mumbled through her wet mouth that she raised her hand and nobody let her talk. She just wanted to share her picture but they were all done sharing pictures. Her teacher turned her camera off because she was crying and she was crying because she wanted a turn. She continued sobbing.

Photo Credit: Laura J Murphy, 2020

I wrote a message to her teacher in the chat asking if she could have a turn because she was so upset. That her being upset seems pretty justified to me. She said no because she doesn’t always give them all a turn to…

Photo by Canva.com/customized stock photos

As COVID-19 numbers continue to surge again and school districts around us slowly transition back to fully remote learning, I can only wonder when it will happen here too.

My youngest is back in school five days on a shortened schedule for about a month now and her brother is in a hybrid cohort, and for whatever reason, despite it not being “back to normal,” things are finally working and I finally feel a sense of harmony in my work -remote learning-life balance.

But is it too good to be true?

Remote learning went something like this:

Check work e-mail…

When I packed my laptop and left my office on Friday, March 13, 2020, for a fourteen-day quarantine, I never imagined I would still be home in October, frozen in time. For nearly seven months, I have been juggling working from home, remote learning, managing IEPs, telehealth sessions, my own online graduate courses, and the eternal abyss of laundry made by two kids who don’t go anywhere — all whilst waiting to fall apart while my husband is at work every day.

Photo Credit: Canva.com

COVID-19 has been another reminder to the special needs moms out there that we need to be careful…

Exploring how social behavior influences our trust during a pandemic.

A big part of opening schools for in-person learning asks us to trust everyone around us — that they are doing the right thing in their free time as far as protecting themselves and the people they are exposed to from contracting COVID-19.

But, when people are crowding beaches, having house parties, and getting together in groups, I wonder how this would impact my family, one that has followed the rules, practiced social distancing, and continues to take caution in our limited interactions with people outside of our home.

As we head into the uncertainties ahead regarding public education in the United States, there are arguments taking place all over the media this month — should students return to in-person instruction in September, amid a pandemic? Should they do remote learning? Hybrid learning? Should they withdraw their children from school altogether and dive into true home instruction?

Families are scrambling to make unique decisions to meet their needs, including private schools that offer the setting they prefer or that fits best into their lifestyle.

Running parallel is the looming childcare crisis that has parents wondering, how is it safe for children to attend daycares, camps, and youth programming for 8–9 hours per day but can’t attend their education full-time or at all? Or is this all…

Restaurants, retail, and salons are opening. Daycares, summer camps, and local youth sports are also starting.

But not essential programs for children like mine — no extended school year, no social skills groups, or ABA therapy in a center. Thus, no reprieve for special needs parents lucky enough to work from home through a pandemic.

I don’t feel lucky at all. I feel overwhelmed and busier than I have ever been in my entire life as I struggle to take on the jobs of remote working, remote learning, remote therapies, and then all of the other things like maintaining a…

This morning I hit the snooze button and fell back asleep for fifteen minutes before I took a shower. Then I spent half an hour in the bathroom where I took my time and put on more makeup than usual, dried my hair, and even curled it. As I stood in my closet contemplating which shirt to wear, I checked my phone for the weather but found myself navigating my Facebook feed for ten minutes before I got back on track. …

This month two six-year-old girls were arrested by police at their elementary schools across the nation. The first, Margot Gaines in Pennsylvania, and the most recent, Kaia Rolle in Florida, was arrested just last week.

Both girls had documented medical conditions that are known to impair behavior. But whether a child has a disability or not, there should (almost) never be a reason to arrest a Kindergartner or any elementary school-aged child for that matter. Kids today are struggling in an education system that is not designed for children.

A school system where seclusion, restraint and arrests are in the media regularly now because they actually exist.

Photo Credit: Crime Online (News Article)

It is 2020 and we are arresting little girls and locking…

Imagine walking into a classroom and seeing everyone engaged in learning, where some students are working in a group while others work independently. Some are sitting on bean bag chairs while others are standing while they learn. Maybe some students prefer to type while others write by hand or on a tablet, and some read traditional textbooks while others use e-readers.

And the teacher isn’t losing their mind while trying to keep every individual student on the same page at the same time.

My point is — if you are looking at a traditional classroom where all of the students are sitting forward attentively listening, you have the wrong idea on what inclusion really is.

[An audio version of this story is…

Laura J. Murphy, MFA, MEd

writer, advocate, educator

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