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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My First "Dear Teacher" Adoption Letter

Several months ago, when I registered the Tongginator for kindergarten, I sent a letter (as required by the school) describing my daughter's personality and learning style. I wrote:

My daughter the Tongginator will enter kindergarten at C Elementary during the fall of 2009. For kindergarten, I feel my daughter would thrive in a more structured environment. She is a child who transitions more fluidly from task to task when the daily schedule remains fairly consistent. A highly verbal and persistent child, the Tongginator responds well to adults who possess strong behavior management skills. I ask that you keep these things in mind when selecting her teacher for the coming school year.

We discovered yesterday that the Tongginator received the teacher I was aiming for... an experienced veteran with a very difficult to pronounce last name. When the Tongginator learned who would be her teacher, she squealed in delight and shouted, "Yeah! I got Mrs. Confetti!"

Yes, she really did say confetti. And no, that isn't the teacher's real last name. Looks like I won't have any trouble coming up with a blog nickname this go-around. Heh.

Mrs. Confetti sent us a nice letter through the mail, sharing her e-mail address so that each family could send her a quick e-mail, informing her of child nicknames and any topics of concern the parents might wish to discuss with her before school starts. This is the e-mail I sent...

Hello, Mrs. Confetti. This is a quick note to let you know how excited our daughter is to be joining your kindergarten class this coming school year. Our daughter goes by the name "the Tongginator." She would like you to know that "I already like you, even though I haven't met you yet. And I wish you could be my teacher every day."

As for specific concerns, we really do not have any at this time, although we did want to make certain that you knew our family was formed through international adoption, since it may come up in classroom discussions at some point. Throughout the school year, I would like to share some terrific educational resources about adoption, family trees, positive adoption language and more. Our family is very active within the Chinese-adoption community, so we have access to a whole host of resources. To start, I'd love to donate some new books to the school library that are adoption-specific and appropriate for kindergartners through about fourth grade and/or educators. "Adoptive Families" magazine included all of these books on their suggestion list for school library donations. Should I bring the titles to you during our conference or would it be best to take them directly to the school library?

Again, the Tongginator is VERY excited about her first day of kindergarten. We look forward to meeting you.

Tonggu Momma, Tonggu Daddy and the Tongginator


The Source said...

Great job on the letter! I'm glad she got the teacher you were hoping for. She's going to have a wonderful year. When does school start?

윤선 said...

I think your approach is really good. I think it's great that you told the teacher straight off that your daughter's adopted, and that you offered further information if it's needed. A great approach. *Thumbs up*. As an adoptee, I always found "family" topics in school to be incredibly difficult. No one was ever very open about adoption back then, and there was little information on it. So I think it's great that you're open about it and willing to talk about it.

Good luck with the first year of school! School was always so traumatic for me, and adoption made it all the moreso! I hope things are much smoother for you!^^

happygeek said...

I LOVE that you are already in communication with the teacher. I am planning out my "dear teacher" letter, which isn't required (but should be).

Myrnie said...

How exciting! They'll never know what hit them :)

bbmomof2boys said...

oh my - she's starting K??? That school will never be the same.

Good job on the letter. What was her response? This is something that I will do but not for a few years yet.


Wade's World said...

What a great idea with you being able to communicate with your school and teacher about specific needs of your child.

Jackson just started a new preschool and I wrote a 2 page note telling his new teacher all about him. I want his teacher (and I'm sure you feel this way to) to know what a special kid she has!

a little leprechaun said...

You write so well!! Can't wait to read the book (hint, hint), how's it going??

LOVE the lifeguard at the pool. Very comforting! ;-)

Dawn said...

As a former teacher, I can say that your letter was very well written, gave just enough info (but not too much!) and will be very much appreciated by Mrs. Confetti!

When is the start date? Our's is 8/25. Looking forward to the "routine" of school - but not really ready to give my kids up yet. It's not just kindergarten moms who go through that every year! Ha!

Jboo said...

Great letter -- you're an awesome Mom. Does it make you all teary-eyed thinking of the little one going off to school (sniff sniff).


Marla said...

Great way to start the year! I have found that my girls' teachers have been very receptive to letting us share about their adoptions and their classmates have also been quite interested in learning. We always recognize their forever family days and several Chinese holidays throughout the year and so far at least, we've been very well-received.

Try to eat lunch often with the Tongginator, especially at first. If the kids at her school are anything like the kids at ours, they'll be grilling you with questions from the get-go and it's an awesome opportunity to educate them about your family.

Hope she has a great year!

Oh, and great idea on the library donations, I need to do the same thing!

redmaryjanes said...

Amazing. Thank you for this post, I will follow your example when Sophia goes to school.

Tammie T. said...

This is my 21st year teaching and I just want to tell you, I love parents like you! I would even like to help Sharie get some of those books for Amelia's school next year! Thanks for being such a great parent!
Amelia's aunt TT

Norah said...

She's got the coolest Mommy around. That was a great email and ummm...can I borrow you to write some of mine? Oh the troubles I had last year with Marissa's teachers. Did I mention she will have the same teachers again this year?! Help. Me. Please?

Holly said...

Wow! That was great!
Whatever will you do with the Tonnginator away at school?
Will she go half days or a full day?
My 3.5 year old has changed his mind about home school. Monday was our first day and he told me that he wanted to go to a really (weawwy) real school with a school bus you know? We had quite the discussion.
Today he announced at the table...I WUV dis school.
And the reason? Today's letter...C...which is for Crafts, cookies, candy and cupcakes....all of which he LOVES :)

Kim K. said...

Great letter. I'm so glad to have blogging friends going through all kinds of "firsts" before me. I love gleaning all this great advice and experience from other adoptive Moms.

Two Kayaks said...

I am a teacher (not a kindergarten teacher, though...I would lose my mind) and think that your letter is amazing! Oh, how we would love for all parents to be as interested in their childrens' lives at school. Wishing the Tongginator the best of luck as she enters this dimension of her life. :)

Patricia/NYC said...

2 words:


Shawnstribe said...

that's just it :)you shared so beautifully, and i wish Miss T a fantastic first year, and i can't wait to read all about it :)
prayers pls girly, we are off tomorrow :)

Aunt LoLo said...

I love that you're so proactive with Miss T and the adults she spends time with.

Great job, Mama!

M3 said...

Dang you're good at this stuff! I still have that phrase "the Tongginator responds well to adults who possess strong behavior management skills" printed out and I just know I'll be using the heck out of it.

discombobulated said...

Awesome! And congrats to Miss T for getting the teacher she wanted!

Krista ~ Bits and pieces said...

Could you help me pen a letter for our first teacher~

It is awesome news that you got the teacher you hoped for!!!

This is an exciting time!

Beach Mama said...

Sounds like Miss T and Mrs. Confetti will get along fine! What a great letter. I vote for you to become "Class Mom." I loved volunteering in Godzilla's K class. So many little personalities! I have very fond memories of my child thinking it was great that I came to his class so often. And to this day, he still likes for me to come to school. Of course we are just 1 year away from middle school where I will be outlawed from stepping foot on the grounds:)

Asianmommy said...

That's wonderful that you are so proactive in getting your child ready for Kindergarten and in preparing the school for your child, too! :)

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

That letter was terrific. As others said, you gave her just the right amount of information, and I love your ideas to donate books for the school and staff. I will be sure to remember that one when it is our turn to enroll for school!!

Have a great night....sleep well and drive safe...CANNOT WAIT:)


kerri said...

We also approached the girls Jk and Sk teacher and told them we would love to share the girls culture within the classroom setting. The teacher embraced this and even added her own flare to the Chinese New Year celebration and the full moon festival.The girls loved this!!
The Tongginator is going to have a wonderful and memorable year. ;)

Mahmee said...

I cannot WAIT to hear the escapades of the Tongginator and Mrs Confetti!
'strong behavior management skills'...that's awesome!

Sharie said...

AWESOME letter. I will be keeping this in mind next year when Miss Amelia moves on to the Big K:)
The kids here start a week from today. Amelia starts in her new classroom on 8/25 - wow this summer went fast!

jiangxigirls said...

This is a great letter! Fortunately I did not have to do a letter this year as my dd's teacher has 2 nieces from China and there is one other Chinese adoptee in the class. Can't wait to hear how she does in school.

Michelle said...

YAY, TM!!! Way to be proactive!! Thanks for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

That's a great letter! I might have to borrow a few phrases if that is okay since I just realized I need to write one of these myself. I'm also just realizing that all those weepy moms who write about their little ones going off to Kindergarten is not ridiculous because I'm one of them! It feels like she was just 3 years old and now I'm searching all over town for Crayola 24 count crayons since Target sold out of them already!

monica said...

Adding to your lengthy list of praise, I am so impressed with your thoughtfulness and ability to communicate what's important for The T. I hope that when J is approaching this age, I will still be following your blog and will know what to do! If you ever feel like sharing a list of the books that you are donating, don't hold back! Monica

QingLu Mama said...

Love this letter as well as the thought that went into the preliminary aid in matching the right teacher for Tongginator.
I have my "meet the teacher" tonight and was debating writing up a little "hello" letter myself...you just pushed me to do so. Thanks!

Annie said...

Woo Hoo!! You have given me something else to add to my "conversations with Lizzie" folder that I have just renamed the "wisdoms for Lizzie" folder!!! Thank you TM!!!!

Suzie said...

Great letter TM!! I would love to hear your list of books. I can't wait to hear all about the antics of kindergarten!!

blackbelt said...

I shall call you The Great Communicator. Great interactions.

We were so blessed that Boo's K class had 4 families formed by adoption out of 17! The teacher had a daughter by adoption, too.

Dita said...

Great letter!

I can tell you from experience with my now 10 year old son that we have had NOTHING but extraordinary teachers thoughout his education in our public school system despite his challenging behavior at times.

WonderBoy also thrives in a VERY structured environment and the slightest moment where he is left to his own devices can throw a monkey wrench into the whole operation. His teachers have always worked with me on a daily basis with a written journal and regular emails. They have been patient, supportive and downright doting on him. They have praised me for my constant involvement and follow through at home to create a seamless approach for him in allowing him to see that we all work together.

With regard to the uniqueness of our family unit and the manner in which we came together, they have always been very caring, respectful and supportive; never making us feel any less than so special and blessed to be together.

My son will begin 5th grade in a little less than a month and I only look forward to meeting yet another professional, dedicated and caring member of our school district.

I hope you will find the same...and somehow, I just know that if you don't...you will make sure you do!