This week, my first graders said goodbye to a classmate who moved away. For these children, moving in and out of communities is part of their lives as they are children of military families. They know how it feels to be new, and they know what it means to start over. When a child leaves, they discuss that they will move soon too.
“I’m leaving for Japan.”
“My family moves to Florida next.”
“I’m going to Texas.”
“I’ll move when I am in third grade.”
Moving is one job of a military child. They know that they will move where their family must go, and that they must adjust to their new surroundings when they arrive.
So now, there is an empty table where this child once sat.
In my early teaching days, I might have moved seats around so that the hole was not so apparent. But now, I won’t. The desk will stay right where it is until a new classmate arrives. Missing this student is where we are as a class.
We sing songs that this friend loved. We tell stories about times we enjoyed together. We read books about moving and talk about the feelings that come with it. We look at pictures to remind us of the friends we miss.
At the same time, the children and I write notes to the child who is probably missing this student the most. The children invite this classmate to play new games at recess. They even give this student extra turns to read the morning message or to choose a movement break.
Right now, we are staying in this moment and feeling this loss together. This is a feeling that these children understand, and they have beautiful ways to support one another. As their teacher, I am overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness and kindness.
Happy Writing and Happy Month of the Military Child!