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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?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Simple (and Fast) Valentine Envelopes

Today we had lots of fun making simple envelopes that we will use next week when we deliver our valentines.  Each child laid out paper doilies and various hearts that we found around our class on a piece of white construction paper.
  Next, they sprayed the paper with liquid watercolors.  The kids then carefully removed the items and voila…wonderful heart prints.  

The kid's paintings were prettier than my sample because they used more paint (although too much sometimes went right through the doily)
I then simply folded the paper in half and used colorful duck tape to tape up the sides. I've done this type of painting before using blue contractor's tape or contact paper.  Unfortunately, I can't find where I recently saw the idea to use doilies and hearts (but it's so pretty and much faster than tape:)