I wrote an article for Exceptional Parent magazine about how teachers and parents can help a child get through school. It has some very simple tips on introductions, talking about differences, and dealing with teasing.
Ideas On How To Use The Book In The Classroom If You Are A Parent.
You could read it to the class or the teacher could read it. You don't need to say anything about your child's difference at first. Just read the book and talk about the other people in the book. Ask them how they are all different from one another. (hair color, eye color, straight hair, long hair, curly hair, different color skin, tall, short, some like art, some like math...) Now ask how they are all the same. (they all have eyes, nose and a mouth, they have hair, they are all in the same grade, they all have feelings....) Ask if any of the students know anyone like the people in the book. Most of the students will talk about family members or friends. Then ask if they would want someone teasing that person about their difference. Ask how it would feel to be teased.
Reinforce the idea of being the same and different at the same time by playing the Same and Different game (See Fun Stuff to Download under Games to play). It shows that we are ALL different in some way and still so much alike. It just makes it more fun to talk about. Instead of a lecture on how to behave, it turns it into a game and something fun to listen to, and participate in.
After talking about everyone's feelings you may want to talk about your child's difference. I would read the book and talk about differences but if your child is very shy, like my daughter, and they don't want any attention drawn to them, you may want to just send home a letter to the parents for them to talk about whatever difference your child may have, with their child. You could just state the facts about the condition. You may want to add a few things on the letter about what kind of a kid your child is. What do they like to watch on TV or what do they collect or play with. That way it's more about getting to know your child and not just about his or her condition. It shows that your child is about more than the condition.
Here’s A Sample Of What Was In April’s Letter.
Prior to starting kindergarten, we sent home the following letter describing our daughter April's vitiligo. She signed it and we also included a smiling photo of her.
Hi my name is April,
I am in your child’s class (or I will play with your child on the playground).
I like to draw and paint. I have a really soft, playful cat named Gizmo. I love to go swimming and my favorite food is macaroni and cheese, and mint chocolate Chip ice cream.
I also have Vitiligo. Vitiligo is a loss of pigment in my skin. It looks like white patches or “clouds” on my skin.
I’m a little shy at first so it’s hard for me to talk about it at times. Kids ask me a lot of questions about it so I thought I could give you the facts about Vitiligo so that you and your child will know about my condition.
• Vitiligo is not contagious
• It doesn’t hurt .
• I started with brown skin and it is slowly turning white.
• 2% to 5% of the population have Vitiligo.
• There is no safe cure for Vitiligo yet.
• It doesn’t affect me in any other way.