Kindergarten is coming and it feels nothing like it should.

Instead of creating spaces to come together, I’m thinking of ways to keep us apart. I’m used to letting students know what the year ahead will be like, but this year not even the teacher knows what to expect.

There are so many kindergarten traditions that have to be put away. Sharing toys and books, going to music class, eating lunch in the cafeteria, field trips–these will not be part of our kindergarten this year.

But, I want my incoming kindergarten students to know something.

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You may not be getting the best parts of kindergarten, but you’re still getting the best parts of me.

You still get my hands, waving as I welcome you to our learning each day.

You still get my feet, always ready to lead you in our next adventure even if we don’t have far to travel.

You still get my eyes, watching you as you take a chance and learn something new.

There is still my voice, offering words of encouragement when you need a little boost.

You still get my ears, ready to listen to your hopes and your dreams.

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You still get my fingers, ready to show you how to create and explore.

There is still my brain, always thinking of all the ways to make this year special for you.

And, best of all, you still get my heart.

No matter where we are or where this year brings us, you’ll always have my heart.

And my heart can’t wait to meet the best parts of you.

This article originally appeared on Facebook at  Rachel Whalen

P.S. Things may look a little different this school year, but Kindergarten is still an exciting milestone. The highly-rated book, On The First Day of Kindergarten, is the perfect read for kids who are getting ready to start school.

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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.