This is for the parents who are getting ready to send their children off to kindergarten. 

You are embarking on the next big adventure in your child’s life.

Watching them walk into their new classroom is a time to celebrate and watching that little face look back at you is a time to mourn what you are leaving behind. You’re excited for the new experiences that await your child and you worry about not being there with them. In the midst of all of these feelings, you are going to be handed a pile of paperwork.

There will be permission slips to sign and contact information to fill out in triplicate. There will also be a handbook filled with everything you ever needed to know about having a student in kindergarten. Pages upon pages of information about bus schedules and how to set up all lunch accounts. This is all important stuff so please read and return it in a timely fashion, but there’s something we forget to tell you about your child’s life in kindergarten.

As a kindergarten teacher, I want you to know a few things that won’t make it into the handbook.

Your child is going to miss you.

They will talk about you all the time.

When I read a story and a character has the tiniest connection to you, I will hear about it.

I will learn your favorite color and your favorite animal.

I will know your birthday, or maybe it’s your birthday, they aren’t really sure.

I will be asked approximately 10,000 times how to spell Mommy and Daddy.

They will want to know if our letter of the day is in your name.

They are thinking about you constantly which is why they will call me by your name instead of my own.

When they are asked to think of a special person or a hero, your name always makes the list.

Whenever I take a picture, they will immediately ask “Are you sending that to my Mom/Dad?”

If there is a special event on our calendar or schedule, regardless of its relevance to your own life, they will want you to be invited.

When they learn to write, you will become the recipient of the most precious love letters of your life.

When they feel stuck or something is hard, just mentioning how proud you’ll be keeps them going.

As a parent, you are very much a part of our classroom community even when you can’t be there.

Yes, your children are going to miss you, but they are learning something very important in their time away. They are going to learn how to have their own experiences. They will then learn that these experiences are more powerful when shared with the people who love and support them. Thank you for being that person. 

It is a privilege to know you through your child.

Rachel Whalen

Rachel Whalen is a writer and Kindergarten teacher who lives and loves in Vermont. She is the mother of two daughters; Frances who is 14 months old and Dorothy who was stillborn two years ago. Her daughter's silent birth has inspired her to use her voice to share about grief, pregnancy loss, and parenting after loss.