Summer is winding down and I’m gearing up for a new school year. Yesterday, I sat down to finish my mailing for my new kindergarten students. I worked my way through the list, personalizing each letter with my student’s name (I feel like it adds a little extra love when you put pen to paper for someone.) and daydreaming about the year ahead.

Then, I thought of them: the children who should be coming to kindergarten. I imagined the families who should be receiving letters from new teachers, but instead, they are receiving yet another dose of heartbreak at the milestone their child did not reach.

So, I have decided that, for this year, they can join my classroom. I will be their teacher. 

Here is their welcome letter:

Dear ______________,

Welcome to kindergarten! My name is Mrs. Whalen and I will be your teacher. I am looking forward to holding space for you in my classroom this year. Even though you can’t physically attend, I will feel your presence in my classroom every day.

Kindergarten is an exciting place and how I wish you could experience it with me! I want to teach you all about letters, the sounds they make, and how to make words. I wish you could be next to me as we learn lots about numbers, plants, and animals. I’ll be thinking of you when we learn about life cycles and watch as our classroom caterpillars become beautiful butterflies. I just know you would have so much fun studying the work of famous artists, making scientific discoveries, and learning so many other wonderful things.

I know how much your families wish you were here to share the joys of kindergarten with them. They want to walk you to your new classroom, help you hang up your backpack, and hear all about your day. Please know that no matter how full our classroom is, you will always be missed.

So, on the first day of school, please make sure you send a little extra love to the ones who are missing you. They will be doing the same for you. I am so honored to have you as part of my classroom and to hold space for you in what should be your year in kindergarten.

Love,
Mrs. Whalen

This article originally appeared on An Unexpected Family Outing

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.