On the Horizon – 05/27/2008

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Horizons Developmental Remediation Center

On the Horizon
On the Horizon

Welcome to “On the Horizon”

Issue 14: Valuing Others: Reflections on an Incident in a Kindergarten Classroom

On the Horizon is a weekly ezine for parents of children with developmental disabilities who want simple, effective strategies to reduce stress, support their child’s development, and improve quality of life for the whole family.

In This Issue

Teaching our children to value themselves and others

A Note from Nicole: Summer Camps, CORE Approach, Valuing Others

Idea of the Week: No Bake Cookies

Feature Article: Valuing Others: Reflections on an Incident in a Kindergarten Classroom

Featured Resource: Do Something Daily Calendar

Featured Program: Summer Camps 2008

Upcoming Events: CORE Approach Workshops, Sib Shop

To keep receiving On the Horizon, please add the email address “nicolebeurkens@horizonsdrc.com” to your safe address list.

A Note From Nicole
Nicole Beurkens

Hi Everyone!

I hope you all enjoyed the long holiday weekend.  We spent much of the weekend outdoors since the weather was warm and sunny!  My husband and I also tackled a long overdue painting project in our kitchen and dining room.  Somehow when we have three days off in a row it seems like we can get so much more done than in a typical 2-day weekend.  Do you find that to be true for your family?

June is going to be a really busy month and we’ve got lots going on at Horizons this week to prepare for the start of summer!  The summer camps registration deadline is getting close and we will have a record number of campers this year.  There are limited spaces available (some of the weeks are already full), so click here to claim what’s left if you haven’t already registered.  We are also only 2 weeks away from the CORE Approach 2-Day workshop that is coming to Lansing on June 13 and 14.  Some of you wrote to me last week to say that you are attending.  You can sign up here – make sure to find me and say hello!

My feature article for this week is not what I had originally planned to write, but I felt it was important to comment on an incident that happened recently in a school in Florida.  The messages adults send to children through words and actions are so powerful, and we need to evaluate how we are guiding and shaping the thoughts and attitudes of our children.  My first thought for a title was, “She Did WHAT?!”…and you’ll see why when you read the article.  Writing it was a therapeutic process for me, and I hope you find value in it.

Looking to the horizon,

Nicole Signature 

Idea of the Week

No Bake Cookies!

Gather the family together for a fun night of cooking.  No bake cookies are easy and fun to make.  Work together to gather all of the ingredients needed:  2 cups sugar, ½ cup milk, ½ cup cocoa, pinch of salt, ½ cup butter, ½ cup of peanut butter, and 3 cups of quick-cooking oatmeal.  Have one or two family members combine sugar, milk, cocoa, salt, and butter into a large saucepan.  Make sure to mix this well before placing the saucepan on the stove to boil.  Once it begins to boil, cover the saucepan and have another family member count to 30.  This allows the steam to wash sugar crystals down the sides of the pan.  Remove the cover and bring mixture back to a hard boil (a boil that can’t be stirred down) for one minute.  Remove the saucepan from the stove and stir in the peanut butter until smooth.  Add oatmeal and mix well.  Drop the mixture by spoonfuls onto waxed paper for cooling.  Once the mixture has cooled down enough to touch, have each family member help shape the cookies to desired look.  Enjoy!

By the way – if you have a gluten-free recipe that is similar to this (requires no baking) we’d love to have it!  Please email us and we’ll print it in a future edition!

Feature Article

Valuing Others: Reflections on an Incident in a Kindergarten Classroom

By: Nicole Beurkens, M.Ed.

When we hear about things on the news, read them in the paper, or listen to the latest gossip from friends or colleagues, there is a tendency to jump to conclusions and make assumptions about the people involved.  I try to keep in mind that there are always two sides (at least) to every story.  What I may be hearing or reading about is one side of the story, but there is probably another perspective or interpretation of things that is not being told.  I have to admit that I am not always successful at withholding judgment until I understand the entire situation, but I try.  Sometimes, though, things that happen that are just plain wrong—and the other side of the story really doesn’t matter.  Such a situation occurred in a Florida classroom recently; and as I read the article describing the incident and the people involved, I must admit that I made a snap judgment.

For those of you who may not be aware of the situation to which I am referring, I’ll give you the short version:  A kindergarten teacher has had a 5 year old boy in her classroom all year, and there have been ongoing instances of disruptive behavior such as humming/singing, pestering classmates, refusing to work, etc.  This child has been in the process of being evaluated for special education services, and the professionals evaluating him believe he has an autism spectrum disorder.  One day recently, the boy was told to leave the classroom due to his disruptive behavior.  The teacher then decided to take a class vote to determine whether or not the child should return to the classroom.  She had this little 5 year old boy stand in front of all his classmates, while each one had their turn to state what they didn’t like about him and whether or not he should be allowed to return to the classroom.  He stood there and watched as all the kids said negative things about him, including a child he perceived to be his “best friend.”  The vote was 14-2 in favor of not allowing him to return to the classroom.

I sat in stunned silence the first time I read the article describing this situation.  There was a rush of emotion as I felt so angry and incredibly sad at the same time.  I was reminded that while we like to think that this kind of blatant discrimination and disregard for human worth are a part of our past, the fact is that they are very much a part of our present.  These kinds of blatant actions don’t occur regularly, or at least not that we are aware of, the fact is that this kind of thinking still exists in our society.  This way of thinking places the worth of some individuals above that of others, makes me better than you, and proposes that the majority determines the value of the few.  The fact that this child potentially has a disability that can be labeled is not the point.  Nor is it that a teacher was “mean” or discriminated against a child who may have autism.  The issue goes much deeper to how we perceive each other and ourselves, and how our words and actions reflect those perceptions.  The actions this teacher took speak volumes about her beliefs about children, their strengths and obstacles, and their value.


Featured Resource

Do Something Daily Calendar

$19.95 (Per Calendar) Each day includes ideas to inspire you and your children. Calendars are assembled by clients in our EmployAbilities program. $1.00 from every calendar will be donated to FARR.

Click on the image below to visit our store!

Do Something Daily Calendar Image

Featured Program
Summer Camp Fun!

Summer Camps 2008!

Your child is going to LOVE the exciting adventures we have planned for this summer! Each week we will explore a different theme together, complete with lots of opportunities for movement, music, problem solving, working together, and indoor and outdoor fun. Our camps are design to offer a fun, safe, and therapeutic environment for children with developmental disabilities to engage with peers, try new things, and retain skills over the summer months. A low staff to child ratio ensures that everyone is supported. Principles of the Relationship Development Intervention (CORE Approach) Program are integrated throughout all activities, which provides oportunities for campers to improve communication, increase competence, enhance regulation, and build relationships.

For a brochure, click here

For a registration form, click here

To sign up online, click here

Upcoming Events

Please join us!

  • Parent Chat – Great Books to Read for Kids & Adults
    For current clients only
    Tuesday June 3, 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM EST
  • Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) ® Program 2-Day Workshop
    June 13 and 14 in Lansing, MI
    Click here for more information or to register.

  • SibShop – Horizons Sibling Network
    Open to everyone!
    Saturday June 28, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM EST
  • Beginning CORE Approach 4-day Parent Seminar – Lansing, MI
    November 10-13
    Registration and Location Information To Be Announced…

See our Event Calendar for more details…

On the Horizon is a weekly ezine for parents of children with developmental disabilities who want simple, effective strategies to reduce stress, support their child¹s development, and improve quality of life for the whole family.

Our mailing address is:

Horizons Developmental Remediation Center
3120 68th Street SE
Caledonia, MI  49316

Our telephone:
(616) 698-0306

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