Introducing children with Down syndrome in the classroom: Free take home sheet PDF download
The following letter is part of the take home sheet I give to Polly’s class every year.
I visit the classroom, read a book, and talk to the children about Down syndrome. It’s always a great time, and a fabulous way to promote inclusion. Kids feel much more comfortable if they can talk about things. They ask questions, I do my best to answer, and Polly, now that she is six years old, joins in the conversation.
Hey Room _____ parents!
This is Polly. She is six years old and thrilled to be at _______________ school this year, just like her two older sisters (Elaina- 6th grade and Zoya -5th grade).
Ms. ________ graciously invited me to read a book to the students. I chose “My Friend Isabelle” by Eliza Woloson. It’s a fun book about a typical friendship between a little boy named Charlie and his friend Isabelle. Throughout their play-date, Charlie talks about how he and Isabelle are both alike and different.
“I run fast. Isabelle takes her time.”
Isabelle and Polly have something in common, too.
They both have Down syndrome.
Today at school, I attempted to provide a kindergarten appropriate definition of Down syndrome for Polly’s classmates:
“Down syndrome is something that causes differences in the way a child looks and learns. Babies with Down syndrome are born with an extra chromosome in some or all of their cells. Chromosomes are tiny, thread-shaped things inside your body. They contain the directions that tell your body how to grow. These directions tell your body what color your eyes and hair will be, how big your nose will be, whether you will be a good singer, and many other things. When a kid has an extra chromosome, it mixes up his body’s directions a little. That is why kids with Down syndrome look a little different from others sometimes and have to try harder to learn.”(adapted from “We’ll Paint the Octopus Red” discussion points at the back of the book)
I would love to see all our kids in Rm.108 have a fabulous year. In that vein, I’d like to ask you to talk to your child about “My Friend Isabelle.” You can talk about:
The definition of Down syndrome
Differences and similarities between your child and other classmates
How different doesn’t mean bad
How to be a good friend at school
That Polly may need a little more time to learn things, but she will learn
If you have any questions for me or Polly, we’re happy to try to answer them. And just like Charlie and Isabelle, we love play-dates!
Gillian Marchenko, Polly’s Mom
Download a free PDF to use for your child’s classroom by clicking the link below.
*CLICK THIS TO GET YOUR Down syndrome take home sheet or click on the button on the side of this page under free!
*Wanna help parents in your class open up conversation with their kids about special needs? Check out my recent article at Chicago Parent!
*Want something simple you can give to your child’s teacher about Down syndrome. Here is my 10 things teachers should know about Down syndrome post (with a free pdf).
*Want to know more about my parenting journey with Down syndrome? Check out my newly published memoir, Sun Shine Down, on Amazon.
And have a great year :).