You'll find hundreds of files on cleft lip, cleft palate here on

This one is about: Presenting Cleft Issues to Pre-Schoolers

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One Family's Experience

I had a talk with Philip's teacher on the 1st day of school this year about the possibility of my coming into the classroom and talking to Philip's class (pre-K 4's) about Philip's CL/P. She was all for it, and said that since her first unit of the year is about how people are different/alike, she felt that Philip should be the 1st "Star of the Week" and that I could come into the classroom and discuss it. Philip thought that it was a great idea.

The 1st thing we did on Monday was take in photos of Philip and his family. He chose his pictures, including one newborn photo, before any repair. He showed his pictures to the class and talked about them. I was not there for that. His teacher told me that he didn't mention his cleft, but did want the newborn photo displayed with his other pictures.

Yesterday, Philip's class had computer lab. I had emailed the URL for Philip's gallery page (with Philip's permission) to his computer teacher, who pulled the page up and showed it to the class. The discussion was about on the Internet and web pages, and, for example, "Here's a webpage about our friend Philip."

Today, I went into the classroom during circle time and talked about Philip's cleft to the class. He sat on my lap and smiled throughout our talk. I kept it very short, in consideration of the age group, and did not give too much detail. I explained that we all have cleft lips when we are in our mommies' tummies, but that usually, our lips and mouths
grow together as we grow but that Philip's did not. I went on to say that doctors can fix this and that Philip has had operations to fix it. I also explained that Philip sometimes has a hard time making his sounds when he talks and that he is going to a speech teacher to help him talk better. I asked Philip if I could touch his scar and he agreed. I explained Philip's scar to the children. That was basically it. Philip took his newborn photo down from the bulletin board and showed it around to his friends.

The children were SO receptive! One little girl stated that her sister goes to a speech teacher. Another little boy told us that he has a scar on his leg and proceeded to show it to everyone. Philip told me later that he and his friends compared scars on the playground and that it was really fun. He said that he really liked it that we talked to his
friends about his cleft.

I am excited that it went so well. Thank you Joanne for the wonderful articles in Cleft Links. "Our Kindergarten Experience" was especially helpful. I hope and pray that Philip is gaining the skills to discuss his cleft honestly and never feel ashamed of it or himself. I think that our experiences this week have helped towards that goal.

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