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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Please Don't Bring Younger Siblings To The Class Party!

           
          I have serious doubts about whether I should write this post.  I know that a lot of people will disagree with my thoughts (and in truth it is not a huge issue so why write something controversial?) Nonetheless, here goes …. I have a rule in my classroom -  younger siblings (other than infants) are NOT invited to our classroom holiday parties!  I know that this policy is hard for a lot of parents to understand so I'd like to explain my reasoning.
           I was a homeroom mom every year from the time my oldest was a kindergartener until my fourth  child was a fifth grader (that's 13 years straight) and I LOVED doing it.  My favorite part was, without question, planning and running the classroom parties.  It was generally accepted at the school my kids attended that homeroom parents "ran" the whole party and that siblings could come to the parties if their parents came to the party. On more than one occassion I was driven crazy when younger siblings "ruined" the party for the older sibling or sometimes the whole class.
          Here are a few problems that arise when younger siblings attend an older child's class party:

1. The party planners have not purchased enough craft supplies for extra children to make the planned craft. The result is crying siblings because they can't do the project or  upset older siblings because Mom makes them share the project with the younger sibling or sometimes not enough materials for the children in the class because younger children are doing the craft.

2. These same problems are even more in evidence with regard to food.  It is really hard (and unfair) to not share the party food with younger siblings who are present but its difficult to plan for an unknown number of younger siblings. Once again, older siblings share their goodies or the whole class shares  which is a problem if there are only 20 cupcakes and 30 kids (including siblings).

3. Games are are also interrupted or altered so the youngsters can join in.  A game that is appropriate for a 9 year old will probably not work for a 4 year old and yet I have often seen parents insist on letting the little one "have a turn."

4. One of the biggest problems is that parents who are helping to run the party need to attend to the young child instead of running a game, distributing snacks or supervising a craft.

5. Far worse than number 4 is the situation where parents who are helping to run the party (or are just present and catching up with friends) are NOT attending to the younger child and that child is putting his snotty fingers in every cupcake or knocking over the bowl of glitter or tearing a class book or…you get the idea.

             In truth, most younger siblings are adorable and most parents try to make sure that the little ones are not disrupting the party.  The problem is, I can't say only some siblings are invited.   And even if I could, I wouldn't -  the little ones will have a chance to attend and enjoy a "big kid party" when they are big kids!  As a parent, I never brought siblings to class parties (I was very lucky to have parents and neighbors who were willing to babysit for me). As a teacher, I get to make the rule that siblings don't come to classroom parties but I also make sure that there are lots of opportunities to include younger siblings in special events at school (such as our Christmas sing-a-long, our play, our Art Show and our End of Year Dance Party) because, in the right situation, kids love to have family at school.
            I know that many teachers don't want to discourage family participation and many parents don't have daytime babysitters available.  I guess I would just ask parents to be very aware of the issues that arise when younger siblings attend a party and focus on what is best for the older child when they choose whether to bring a little one along (and if they have to include the little ones - watch them!).

            What are your thoughts about younger siblings at class parties?

14 comments:

  1. I don't have rules about younger siblings at class parties (but I do for parents who volunteer or who go with us on field trips), but it is a bit frustrating when younger ones take apart my classroom and I'm trying to put things back while enjoying the party at the same time.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

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  2. I agree with you on this one, Lyn! I've seen many of the things you've described happen in my own classroom during class parties. I don't have parent volunteers to run any of my class parties, but I always invite them to come and enjoy the celebration.
    Connie Anderson

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    1. At my current school, I plan the party and then invite parents to come and enjoy the celebration (and help out if they want to). It's easier to exclude siblings when I don't have to rely on parents. I really would want this post to be read by parents so they think about the possibility of leaving siblings at home (or at least be very aware of their behavior).

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  3. I totally agree. I spent 15 long minutes creating a gingerbread house for a younger sibling so he would stop taking apart his brothers. The mother watched me but did not help. I wanted to be there for the kids whose parents couldn't attend.

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  4. Totally agree with you...they will have their chance when they are the big kid...most of the time the parent is involved with the younger child or the younger child is wreaking havoc on the classroom or activity

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  5. It's a tough call. I always feel for the mom who can't come b/c they don't have family to watch a younger child for an hour, and for their child who wants mom there. Stay home moms typically are the ones willing to help, and often have the younger child too. I know we often struggle with parent involvement and hate to discourage what we do get.

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    1. I agree, it isn't simple especially when parent involvement is limited (which is not the case in my current school but it was true where I taught before). I really would like parents to read this and be aware of the issues when they chose whether to bring younger siblings (if they have the option to leave them at home) and that if they do bring siblings, they are careful to ensure that the siblings don't interfere with the older kids' enjoyment.

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  6. I'm in full agreement. The little ones shouldn't be attending for all the excellent reasons you gave.

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  7. I also have a rule about no younger siblings. I include it in the Beginning of the year handbook and stress that this is their preschoolers special time with mom/dad. I also note that the younger children will have their special chance soon. This seems to work really well. (Queenof4s.blogspot.com)

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    1. Putting in the handbook is a great idea.

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  8. I, too, agree. The party is a special time for the children in the class, not their younger siblings. That's OK. Younger siblings will have their special times when they are in that grade. I have the same rule in my classroom.

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  9. This is a tough one. I have had younger siblings cause issues during class events, and seen it make the transition into kindergarten much easier for those who feel anxious.

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  10. At the last school I taught at, there was a firm policy that younger siblings could not come to school at all since there were liability issues (insurance?). Parents could pay $5 per hour for younger siblings to be cared for in the church nursery during school parties and events. That was the almost perfect solution. I still had parents sneak in babies in strollers, but I pretended I didn't see them :). I agree with all your concerns. They are valid.

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