Celebrating Mother’s Day for a Child with no Mom

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The Question:
I normally have the children make something for Mother’s Day. This year I have a student whose mother passed away. I am looking for tips to manage doing Mother’s day activities without upsetting my student.
The Answers:
Marta
I’d talk to the student and ask about ideas which are okay for him.
Shannon
If the child is absent any day soon, you can have the children make a small something like a card and explain that you are doing it early so as not to make the child sad. I did that last year with a father’s day card when my little one was absent in early May and she had lost her dad at the beginning of the school year. The children were very understanding and empathetic.
Trisha
 Maybe a grandmother or aunt could be substituted? I have done that in the past.
Abigail
Begin the assignment by saying Mother’s Day is for all mothers. Then have the class make a list of everyone they know who is a mom. List grandmas, aunts, teachers, the principal, friends, god-mothers, etc. Then explain your Mother’s Day project. Allow them to choose a mother they’d like to make it for. Never stress it should be for their own moms. Most will choose their own mom but you may be surprised by the number who pick another mother.
Carla
 I always substituted a dad or grandmother = any significant person in their life
Lisa Marie
As a kindergarten teacher and a widow with a daughter, we always made the card or project and then would give it to a special family friend or grandparent. Letting the child make something for their parent who had passed on still allows them to honor that parent and helps them to not feel quite so “different.” Sometimes the remaining parent likes to keep those special keepsakes themselves as a reminder. Asking the child what they’re comfortable with is ok too!
Penny
We would have a special person ie: grandma, special aunt or just dad on mothers day. Also, we had each child bring a balloon to school and we just let them float to heaven as a special reminder that sometimes we lose a special someone in our lives.
Cathy
 This happened to me last year. My student made something for her grandmother, who she lived with, along with her dad.
Heather
I have also dealt with it but in second grade (so this idea might not work yet). I had a very good relationship with the child and we talked about it frequently (it happened when he was in K). I suggested that he make a project for mom and keep it in a special box that was just for her. He could put other things in there too. He seemed to like the idea and I had run it past dad. I had to approach the subject with the child way in advance but he really loved the idea and it all went well on the day.
Christina
 I had a student who lost his dad. When he would get upset about it I would have him write a letter (as much as he could) or make a card. This really helped him. Talk to the student (parent) ahead of time find out what they’re comfortable with. If needed, you could send the student to another teacher during this time.
Sandy
 I have had the same thing.. made a present for the primary caregiver. I pulled the child aside and talked to them, asking who they wanted to make it for. I grew up with no Dad, so I used that so the child knew others are in the same situation and that I made stuff for my mom on Father’s Day .
Diane
 I have the child give the gift or card or whatever to whoever has taken over the mother role to them- like their dad or aunt or grandmother etc. 

One year I had a student who’s mother was murdered in November of that year. It was still too “fresh” for all of us so I didn’t do Mother’s Day that year. We did our rotten potato project but just said give it to someone special. Most chose their mothers. 

Often I have children in foster care or this year, a child who’s mom is in jail. So we tend to go with give to someone special in the years with those circumstances.
Christy
 I had a student who lost her mother as well. I asked her what she wanted to do. She wanted to make one for her mother and she took it to the cemetery. She also made one for her grandmother. I would talk to the student privately and let them decide.
Cheryl
 I am in the same predicament. I love Abigail’s idea. Thanks.
Carrie
 We always talk about the special people in our lives who love us and take care of us. I had a similar situation a few years ago. The kids were very sweet and compassionate.  They can choose any of their special people to make something for.

Gabriela

And How would you go about telling/asking the father about Mother’s Day?
Ann
Abigail’s idea is RIGHT ON – I do NOT like the idea of sending the child away while making projects, making her feel different and excluded. I had this situation several years ago, and we made projects just like always and she took hers to the cemetery. Mother’s day is for ALL mothers, not just our own. This child needs to know she still has a mother and can give the gift to anyone special in her life – she may even choose her dad!
Lori
Why not have all the kids make memory boxes of the best memories experiences they have of times with their moms? It would apply to all kids. We do that with kids at hospice. The teacher should also get some training on how to deal with student losses if she doesn’t already.
Kelli
I combine Mother’s Day & Father’s Day (since that is after the last day of school) and make “Parents’ Day” projects. If you have kids in foster care, or living with Grandparents, you could change it to “Someone Special Day.”

Lori
 I was in the same situation one year. For that student who lost his mother, I let him make the mother’s day gift and give it to someone special. I also asked him to write a love letter to his mother and then I purchased a helium balloon and we sent the letter off to his mother into the sky. It was very special for him.
Rebecca
 It depends on the child, I like the idea of asking the child. I grew up without a mother and hated special persons day projects because I knew it was really Mother’s Day, only because of me it couldn’t be called Mother’s Day. To me, that was worse than just doing a Mother’s Day project.
Nancy
I lost my mom when I was in 3rd grade. I don’t remember ever being subjected to a mother’s day project. (Or have any trauma over being made to do one). I honestly don’t remember it. I do remember when I pledged a sorority in college and they sent all our mothers a letter inviting them to a tea. Luckily I had a step-mom by then, so I could deflect casual questions.
Personally, I would never do a mother’s or father’s day project during class. Too much shifty ground there. Kids old enough to be in school can do something on their own. But hey, that’s just me speaking (not a teacher, now a mom)
Sarah
The children are lucky that their teachers are compassionate and creative!!! These postings make me proud that we all care so much about our students and are sensitive to their needs!!
Kirsten
Do project and attach helium balloons. Check with the  dad first re: beliefs though, to avoid any problems. I would ask child too–to preface the discussions that would occur during the making of project. That might make it easier on the child to discuss their feelings.
Jennifer
I am a kindergarten teacher and a mom. Depending on the circumstances, I would ask the child if they would prefer to give their Mother’s Day Gift to their dad or is their someone else in their life they would like to honor? If their Mom passed away recently, the student could still make this gift for their mom and place in a special part of their home to honor the memory of their mom on Mother’s Day.
Mary Beth
 I had that issue one year. The little boy made it for his grandmother, who he was now living with. The boy gave me a gift for Mothers’ Day that year……only time that’s ever happened…..I was so touched!!!
Melissa
 I have had a similar issue with students that are being raised by grandma/aunt/ dad/ etc. and mom is not in their life so I tell them the gifts are for an important grown up. They can give it to mom, gram, dad, whoever they think is important to them.
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One thought on “Celebrating Mother’s Day for a Child with no Mom

  1. Wonderful ideas! I like the idea of making something special for someone you care about. However, please…oh please do not release balloons. It is SO bad for the environment!!

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