Back To School and Branching Out

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As I walked the isles of my local one-stop shopping store and I saw all of the back-to-school items on the shelves, the realities of the end of summer sunk in.  This is a bittersweet time of the year for most parents.  As I was, reluctantly, loading my basket in preparation for this upcoming school year, my mind shifted to writing a blog for back to school tips. I decided to take a different route from writing about the items that could be ideal for your child with a disability and decided to focus on how, we, parents need to say yes a little more.

Chalkboard with the words "Back to School" written in white chalk.

I have learned a lot over the years and one of my biggest life lessons came from watching my parents as a young child.  Both of them are completely blind and guess what I never once panicked as a child about this fact. I was never concerned how I’d get places, what I’d wear, what I’d eat or anything out of the ordinary.  In fact, I really didn’t focus on my parents being blind; after all I never knew what having sighted parents was like.  Both of my parents were empowered by their parents, they were permitted, and encouraged, to explore their environment (beyond their front door), attend traditional school, go to college, ride a bike, water ski, hang out with friends, and just be kids.

I think life really hit me when I had my own child and he was diagnosed with a disability.  This is where I really learned to just live and let him spread his wings and fly. It wasn’t easy, but my dad told me if I treat him like a typical kid he won’t know the difference and hopefully, others wont either.  So, now that my journey as a mom has netted a college graduate, one child entering High School and the other child entering Middle School, I have some advice for the upcoming school year, which will benefit any parent.

Classroom with small desks and a few bookshelves

8 Tips for Branching Out During Back to School

  1. Let your child try something new, even if you think they might not succeed.  Sometimes, they will spread their wings and fly.
  2. Don’t let other’s opinions or small thinking limit your child’s potential.  Remember impossible can turn into I’m Possible with the right support and attitude.
  3. Kids are kids, and believe me, they all have differences; the good news is they also have commonalities.   So, when a positive connection is made, step back and let them grow in commonality.
  4. You just can’t do that Nemo.  This is often how parents want to protect their children; I am guilty of this response.  However, the saying, ‘where there’s a will there’s a way,’ could not be more accurate.  Step aside and let your child’s will find their way.
  5. Kids can be cruel, but they can also be accepting and amazing.  Find the right environment for your child to thrive in.  This takes a lot of work sometimes, and its not always possible.  However, when it is available the results can be astonishing.
  6. Reach for the moon, even if you miss you will land among the stars.  Think of this saying every time your child tries something new or reaches a bit further.
  7. All kids can participate in any activity; some kids might need some modifications to make participating safe and fun.  Before you say no to something, look into the logistics to see if there is a way to modify the activity or your child, for maximum safety and fun.
  8. Be your child’s cheerleader, but leave the pom-poms at home.  Encourage your child to look for new opportunities.  Praise your child’s successes and be there to listen if things don’t go their way.  This is all part of life lessons that every child needs to experience.

Close up view of two pencil erasers on top of notebook paper.

These developmental years are the perfect time for our children to be exploring, trying new things and sometimes failing. However, not succeeding is only a failure if you didn’t learn something along the way.  So, help your child look for opportunities that might place you out of your comfort zone.

More about Braille Works

Lou Fioritto, one of the founders and owners of Braille Works, has been blind all of his life.  He stepped out of his comfort zone and into the entrepreneurial world with his wife, Joyce. They have since grown the business over 20-years into one of the largest document compliance companies in the US. They offer complete Braille, Large Print, Audio, WCAG 2.0 AA, and Section 508 Title II and Section 508 Title III compliance.  Lou knows the importance of precision, accuracy and readability in producing Braille documents; he is one of the end users of the product.  Contact Braille Works today to learn more about how your business can be compliant with ADA laws and provide a positive experience for all of your customers and guests.

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