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You're What? Telling Your Students And Their Families That You Are Expecting


"Does your baby poop inside you?  Do you have to poop out their poop?"  Conversations you never thought you'd have!

I guess it had never really occurred to me that I would be the one breaking the news to my students and families about my pregnancy.  For some reason I assumed that administration would handle it, or some adorable little maternity elves would magically take care of it for me.  I was clearly misguided in my understanding of how the whole pregnancy thing works, and I'm sure it won't be the last time.  

So how do you share your exciting news with your students and their families?  How do you deal with the various parent reactions when they realize you will be leaving mid-year?  How do you field the inevitable flood of questions from your students about where babies come from?  I did not feel ready for any of this, so I did what any normal person would do... I tried not to think about it!


At 20 weeks, I knew that it was only a matter of time before I "popped" and wouldn't be able to hide my pregnancy any longer.  With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it seemed like a great opportunity to share all that we had to be thankful for.  Being new to all of this, I decided to seek out the wisdom of some of the teacher-moms in my school.  They know the community better than anyone, and I knew their advice would be essential!  This also helped serve as my way to begin sharing my news with my school community.  Their level of excitement really helped put me at ease.  They shared their experiences, advice, and even letters that they had sent home to parents announcing their pregnancy.  I was beginning to feel a whole lot better!


The weekend before Thanksgiving I drafted a letter to parents.  I planned to send it home with my students that Wednesday (no we do not have the week of Thanksgiving off!) Feel free to take a peek :)
My mother gave me some very sound advice.  It wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear.  She said, "Don't expect smiles and rainbows right away.  They are finding out that their child's teacher, whom they have developed a strong and trusting relationship with, is leaving.  This might be hard for some at first.  Don't let it upset you." 

I think that giving parents the 4-day weekend to let the news sink in was helpful.  On Monday, a few parents snuck in to say congratulations.  Over the course of the next few weeks, more and more shared their excitement for me, asked how I was feeling, and offered their congratulations.  I was never met with any negativity, but I was happy to be reminded that not everyone would have a positive reaction at first, and to give it time.  I feel very fortunate to be working with such wonderful and supportive families this year.


Now it was time for the fun part.  I decided to tell my students on the same day the letter/email went home to parents.  This way, I could be the first to tell my students, but the parents would have all of the information by the time they were ready to pick up their children.  We all know that kids say the darnedest things, and I couldn't wait to hear what would come out of their mouths!

Here is a brief(ish) play-by-play of our initial conversation:

ME:  I have some news to share with you this morning.  It is something that I am excited for, but I have to wait until April!  Does anyone have any guesses what it could be?

STUDENT:  Thanksgiving!

ME:  Good guess, but Thanksgiving is tomorrow, which is in November.  This is happening in April.

STUDENT: Your Birthday!

ME:  My birthday is tomorrow too, but good guess.

STUDENT:  AJ's birthday! (my husband)  

ME:  AJ's birthday was last week, but you're on the right track!  It has to do with AJ too!

STUDENT:  Your anniversary!

ME:  You're getting warmer.  My anniversary is in May, just after April.

STUDENT:  You're having a baby!

ME:  You're right!  AJ and I are having a baby and it will be born in April.

STUDENT:  But you're not fat!  When my mom was having a baby, she was really fat!

ME:  The baby is only 4 1/2 months old right now, so it's not very big yet.

STUDENT:  Wait!  Your baby is 4 1/2 months old?  It's already here?

ME:  No it hasn't been born yet.  Babies take about 9 months to grow in their mother's belly.  Right now it has only been growing for 4 1/2 months.  As the baby gets bigger, my belly will get bigger too.

STUDENT:  Do you know if it's a boy or a girl?

ME:  What do you think? 

(we did a quick vote and graphed our results- it was almost an even split!)

ME: We are having a boy.

STUDENT:  Can we name him?

ME:  No.  A baby is not like a class pet where we vote on a name.  AJ and I will choose his name, but you are welcome to give suggestions.

STUDENT:  Does that mean that you won't come back when you have the baby?

ME:  Having a baby is hard work, and your body needs to rest for a long time after.  That means that I will not come back to school until September when you are in third grade.  You will have a guest teacher who will take my place when I leave.  I don't know who that person is yet, but I will let you know when we find him or her.

STUDENT:  Ya, my teacher had a baby last year and the guest teacher was really nice.  

ME:  We work really hard to find great guest teachers to be with our students.

STUDENT:  When will you get fat?

ME:  It doesn't happen all at once.  The baby grows slowly, just like you do.  That means that my belly will grow slowly too.  By April, it will probably be pretty big.

STUDENT:  Will you come back and show us your baby when it's born?

ME:  Of course!  He needs to meet my school family.  You are important to me!



My students took my comment, "You are welcome to give suggestions for his name" very seriously.  They took an empty tissue box and transformed it into a Baby Starr Suggestion Box.


There are well over 200 names in there at this time, and the suggestions (for better or worse) keep on coming.  I have found that allowing them to have this small item in the classroom has helped them feel involved and connected to what's happening.  Allowing them to feel a part of something, rather than feeling like something is happening without them, has really helped limit the anxieties and fears my students have around my maternity leave.


In case you are curious, we definitely have some popular suggestions.  First, we apparently have a large number of Patriots Fans in my classroom:  Gronk, Brady, and Tom have been big hits!


Their suggestions are also a reflection of what is going on in the media.  Star Wars characters also make up a large percent of the suggestion pool.  I even had a student defend their name choice by saying, "Well your last name is Starr, so it totally makes sense!"


Wookie Starr would definitely be a great conversation starter, but I'm just not sold on it yet!


Children are naturally curious, and my students are proving no different!  Here is just a sampling of some of the questions I have received since sharing my news with them:
  • Where do babies come from?
  • How do grown-ups decide they're ready to have a baby?
  • How does your body start growing a baby?  Do you have to say a magic word or something to make it start?
  • Do you have to go to the doctor and tell them you want a baby?
  • How do you activate the egg?  Do you press a button or something, like your belly button?
  • How do you get the baby out?  Where does it come out?
  • Why do some babies come out of their mommies tummies and some come out of their privates?
  • How do you know it's ready to come out?
  • If there is a hole for it to come out of, how does it not fall out before it's ready?
  • How do babies get food?
  • Do babies poop inside you?
  • If babies poop inside you, do you have to poop out their poop too?
  • Why do eggs turn into chicks in chickens, but they turn into humans in humans?
  • How does the baby break out of its egg before it comes out?  It doesn't have a beak!
  • Does it tickle when it kicks you?
  • Will it hurt?
  • Why can only girls have babies in their tummies?
  • (and again) When are you going to get fat?
I try to be as honest and forward with my students as possible, without giving too much information.  I also think it's important to prepare yourself ahead of time, and really figure out what you're comfortable sharing.  I have some students that are much more curious than others, so I purchased a few books from Amazon to help feed their curiosity independently.  They have come to me with follow-up questions, which I have tried my best to answer.  This way, students who were not ready for those conversations did not have to sit through a deeper Q&A and feel overwhelmed by information.

I can only imagine what the next 12 weeks will bring, and I look forward to sharing more amazing student quotes and questions with you all!  Please feel free to share any of your experiences in the comments below.  I would love to know how other teachers handle these questions, or how you chose to share your news with your families!

9 comments:

  1. Luke Starr sounds amazing, I'm just saying ;) cutest post!!

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  2. Your mom is very wise! And Wookie Starr is a really interesting suggestion. Did anyone suggest "AJ Junior" or "Jillian Junior" even though it's a boy... And if AJ is for A... Junior they may not know. Kids are so cute!

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  3. Such a cute post!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Love love love this post! I am sending you an email of something fun to do with your sweet class! <3

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  5. Such a cute post! I know they will enjoy watching you and the baby grow. It's wonderful to have your own group of cheerleaders and encouragers in the form of 2nd graders!
    Stephanie
    Applelight Moments By Stephanie

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  6. So cute! I can only imagine what my 4th Graders will ask when I tell them around Valentine's Day- I'm waiting until 20 weeks, too. It doesn't make a ton of sense to tell them before when there isn't anything to "see" yet! The name box is genius!

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    Replies
    1. My kindergarten colleague in the classroom next door is also expecting and she will be leaving after the spring vacation for her maternity leave. The questions you are receiving sound from the kiddos sound very familiar to what my kindergarten colleague tells me. TOO FUNNY! You never know what kinds of questions the kiddos may ask. Best wishes
      to you and your new bundle of joy! http://123kteacher.blogspot.com

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