This article was previously published on Latterdaysaintwoman.com

Whether you’re relieved to be leaving Primary or grieving,  there are things to take into consideration when you are leaving your Primary students to a new teacher, especially if you are teaching very young children.

One of the great joys of teaching little ones is the deep love they develop for their teacher. There is nothing quite like having a preschooler rush across a crowded store into your arms, or getting a hug from a sweet toddler. Because children do love their teachers, they are often devastated when their teacher is released. A teacher can make the transition easier by preparing her children.

3924b45d4c9da33f04411a767b058afaIf you are moving away, you may know for some time in advance that the change is coming. Begin telling your students a month or so in advance that you are moving away and the children will soon have a special new teacher. Tell them how a teacher will be chosen, that the Primary presidency and the bishopric will pray to know whom Heavenly Father wants to teach them. If there is a possibility they will have substitutes for a while, tell them that also. You can explain that someone will take care of them every week until the new teacher is chosen.

Preschoolers often worry about who will take care of them. Once they start school, they will understand the concept of substitutes a little better. You will have to repeat all this information weekly and also send a note to the parents. In spite of this, your students may not believe you and may still cry or be angry when it really happens. If they lash out at you or refuse to speak to you, don’t take it personally. They just don’t understand, but they will soon adjust.

If you get released a few weeks before you move, try to stay away from the classroom so the children can begin bonding with their new teacher. When you see the children in the halls, however, be sure you give them a hug or stop to talk so they know you still love them.

preschoolersIf possible, invite the new teacher to visit the class before you are released. Meet with her to tell her about the children or write a summary of the class. Include your routine, but explain you understand she will do things her own way. You just want her to know what they’re used to, since they will often ask for those things again. Be sure to tell her about disabilities, shyness, non-member parents, and any other situations she should be aware of.

When the new teacher visits, introduce her as your friend and tell the children how excited you are that she will be their new teacher. Assure them she will take very good care of them and you are happy Heavenly Father chose her as the very best teacher for them. Allow her to watch you teach and to participate in whatever way she chooses. You may want to end with a craft so she can talk to the children more informally and get to know them.

At the end of the class, give the children hugs and ask them to be very helpful and loving to your friend when she starts teaching them. This gives the new teacher your approval and tells the children you are comfortable with the changes.

sunday-school-children-572291-galleryIf you are released unexpectedly, you have several choices for passing along the mantle of love. You can offer to come to sharing time or class and introduce the children to their new teacher as they arrive. You can also, especially if you are afraid you will cry or if you have to move immediately into your new calling, send a letter for the teacher to read, or individual notes you can give the children in Sacrament Meeting or that you can mail to them.

Sometimes after you have been released, your former students will complain to you that the teacher does things differently than you did. As long as they aren’t telling you something really serious, support the teacher. Tell the children that every teacher does things differently, and when you became their teacher, you made changes too. Assure them they will get used to her way of doing things soon and that you know she is a good teacher.

To read more articles by Terrie Bittner, please click here.

To read more articles by Terrie Bittner, please click here.

As much as we enjoy having their love and loyalty, we need to help them transfer those emotions to their new teacher. Resist temptations to act on our quiet pleasure that the children prefer us. Instead, emphasize how special the new teacher is and give them permission to love her.

Once you’ve been released, tell yourself it is no longer your calling. Allow yourself to grieve, but then move on. Throw yourself into your new calling quickly. Your students will be fine and soon your new calling will capture your heart in the same way your old one did.

About Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.

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