How To Successfully Plan for Maternity Leave as a Teacher

How To Successfully Plan for Maternity Leave as a Teacher

Welcoming a new addition to the family is an exciting journey, but for teachers, the prospect of planning for maternity leave can be daunting. Balancing the responsibilities of nurturing young minds with preparing for the arrival of your own bundle of joy requires careful planning and organization. In this guide, I will share the best practices that worked for my two maternity leaves as a 3rd and 4th grade teacher, ensuring a smooth transition for both teachers and their students.

(Me pregnant with our daughter, 2019)

1. Start Early

As soon as you know you're expecting, initiate discussions with your school administration or human resources department. Understand your rights and entitlements regarding maternity leave, including the duration of leave, benefits, and any paperwork required. Understanding the amount of time you have for your leave, whether paid or unpaid, is very important. 

2. Delegate Responsibilities

Collaborate with your colleagues and supervisors to delegate responsibilities during your absence. This includes who your long term substitute will be, who will take over any clubs you run, committees you're on and any "duties" you might have. If you are lucky enough to know who your long term substitute is, invite them in to your classroom to "shadow" you. This helps the students get used to the new teacher in your room, as well as familiarize that teacher with your classroom routines and expectations. 

3. Communicate with Families

My first maternity leave was at the very start of the year. In fact, my oldest was born the week school started so I never got to meet my families before he arrived. Sending a letter home (or preparing one for Open House for my sub to hand out) introducing myself and explaining when I was to return, helped ease the worry of many parents.
I also made sure I had a newsletter template ready for my substitute to use to ensure that communication was flowing between teachers and families from day one. My second maternity leave was at the very end of the year. Since I already had these newsletters in place, I used them to communicate other details about my leave, including my temporary replacement, who to reach out to if they needed additional support and what to expect while I was gone. 

4. Announcing the News!

Let's pause here for a moment for the most FUN thing to do throughout this process... announcing your pregnancy to your students. I used this puzzle to reveal my pregnancy and it was truly a moment I will never forget. My 3rd graders went nuts! They were SO excited, sharing baby name ideas and asking if it was a boy or girl. To share something so personal with them bonded us in a way I never thought possible. It was really special. 
In true teacher form, I added in some predicting, graphing and data tracking skills. The students LOVED tracking the baby's growth each week. 

5. Prepare Comprehensive Lesson Plans

Back to the nitty gritty of maternity leaves... the lesson plans. I will start by saying you do NOT need to create lesson plans for your entire leave. That is just stressful, unnecessary and not realistic. What IS realistic is providing your substitute with templates and guidelines to follow for classroom management, routines and your academic scope and sequence. 
The first time I went on leave, I was completely overwhelmed. The second time I went on leave, I had a better idea of how to break down ALL THE THINGS for my sub. I created sections in my binder (and made it digital so I could quickly type everything) and this made it so much easier to tackle. One day I would complete the Student Information Templates. Later that week, I would type out our Routines and Procedures. As my leave approached, I would slowly chip away at each section of my binder until it was complete
Organizing all of the information like this was a total gamechanger. Instead of feeling stressed about leaving my classroom, I felt calm, prepared and ready to focus on having my baby. 

6. Take Care of Yourself

Most of this post is how to prepare your classroom, however, you can't do any of that if you don't practice self-care. I remember feeling very anxious about leaving, that the students (and sub) would be lost without me. But guess what? They were fine. All that time fixating on every detail to be planned and left for my classroom was not necessary. Should you be prepared? Absolutely. But you also deserve to rest and enjoy this special time. You are growing a human! Women are AMAZING! Allow yourself to draw boundary lines and take care of you!
(Me pregnant with my second son, 2017)
Preparing for maternity leave as a teacher requires careful planning, organization and communication. I hope the advice in this post will help you transition your students, colleagues and parents so you can focus on your growing family. Wishing you a happy and healthy journey into parenthood!
Have a colleague expecting? Check out these Baby Advice Templates. Bind them together for an adorable baby shower book from students!
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