A Heartfelt Thank You Letter To Parents Of My Daughter’s Pre-School Classmates

My child’s schooling experience has been eye-opening for me, and made me understand how important it is to be inclusive.

After 2.5 years in her pre-school, my child bid goodbye to her friends. I really wanted to gift a token of thanks that will also be representative of her in some way.

While writing an article about Rohini Nilekani, I had learnt of Pratham Books. Their mission statement was immensely inspiring, and so were the content and themes that are inclusive, identifiable for the Indian child, and introduce relevant social issues while being mindful of gender representation. Since they are a non profit, they are priced very nominally as well.

As I sourced a stack of age appropriate books for her classmates, i also wanted to write a note to the parents/caregivers. My child’s schooling experience has been eye-opening for me, and made me understand how important it is to be inclusive. For some context, she studied in a school where Mandarin was the main mode of communication for half the time everyday. Given this, the school comprised of mostly local students.

Kindness can make a huge difference

Being alien to the language as well as having significant differences in her food habits, my child took time to adapt. There were so many little challenges, doubts, and questions that we faced, but she took them all in her stride with a little bit of encouragement. Of course, I’m not discounting the power of kindness and empathy that her classmates showed to her – I have seen the difference a kind gesture made to my child’s day when everything was new and she felt out of place.

There’s always a “minority” around us. Someone different. That quiet kid. That “weird” kid. I can recollect many such kids from my schooling experience and wish I could’ve known if they were going through something difficult or simply trying to make sense of who they were in a world where everyone else seemed similar.

One of my parenting goals since then has been to talk about inclusivity on a regular basis with my child. Even if she moves to an environment where she will be among the “majority”, I hope she will keep an eye out for that quiet kid and help them out on difficult days, just like her classmates did. Sharing the note here.

I honestly wish I could’ve expressed myself better there, but I did my best given the limited space and time.

The letter

Dear parent(s) of ___,

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Let us introduce ourselves – We are the parents of Mathura, your child’s classmate. Mathura has been in Spring Buds for the past 2.5 years since N1. This is her last week in the school, and in Singapore, as we are all set to move to our home country, India.

Mathura’s experience in Spring Buds has been amazingly positive. As we only speak in our mother tongue Tamil at home, she knew only a few words of English when she joined school at 3 years old in 2020. In addition to the fears of the pandemic, we were really worried about how she would cope in the school, as she didn’t know both English as well as Mandarin. However, we trusted in her resilience and the school’s approach, and went ahead with what our gut feeling told us – this was the right school for her.

With time, we watched with amazement as she often started humming songs in Mandarin at home. She would tell us stories about her classmates and her time at school. She would surprise us with her pace of learning everyday. With time, she has blossomed into a 6 year old who talks a lot, loves to ask questions and mostly converses in English. This is a stark contrast to the 3 year old Mathura who was extremely quiet and shy in school, and had to be pushed to participate in class activities and play time.

We’re sure you will agree when we say that the teachers as well as teaching methodologies of Spring Buds have a huge part to play in our children’s development. But there is something other than these that we would like to talk about in this note.

Being from a minority community and standing out quite starkly from many of her peers, Mathura has had to navigate certain challenging situations in her schooling journey. She was the only one who brought a lunchbox to school through these years, as we are a vegetarian family. This includes special days such as festive celebrations. We have also had to keep away certain snacks such as gummy bears, that her friends regularly used to eat, due to the same reason. Her little brain often struggled to understand why she was the only one to eat different food from her classmates, but we did our best to explain personal choices, and she adapted.

We also had many questions from her about certain sensitive topics such as her skin colour, nationality etc. We have always tried our best to explain that despite such differences, she is just like the other little girls and boys in her class.

In addition to the school’s lessons of diversity and racial harmony, we think every classmate of hers who has extended some form of friendship and empathy over the years has to be thanked for making her feel comfortable at school, despite the fact that she stood out quite a bit. And we believe that behind every child who has shown kindness and empathy at such a tender age, there are amazing parents who have inculcated these values consciously. So, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making our child’s first schooling experience positive, even if indirectly in a small way. Every single effort to make the community around us more inclusive to all kinds of people, matters.

Here’s a book for your child from India, as a token of thanks and remembrance for the good times they shared as classmates.

Wishing your family a very happy new year 2023, and best wishes to your child for K2.

Many thanks from,

Parents of Mathura.

First published on LinkedIn

Image source: FatCamera from Getty Images Signature Free for Canva Pro

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About the Author

Jayashree Ravi

An engineer turned SAHM of two who wants to be known beyond that. Passionate about words, parenting, making eco-friendly choices, feminism and lifelong learning. read more...

26 Posts | 20,121 Views

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