Saturday, February 14, 2009

Should kids celebrate Valentine's Day at school?

As I picked my 4-year-old up from preschool yesterday, I asked her teacher whether the class would be doing anything for Valentine's Day and was surprised when she told me that she's not allowed to plan anything for them.

"If parents want to send in cards or treats, we can't stop them from doing that," she told me apologetically, "but we're not supposed to do anything ourselves."

(The answer surprised me so much that I brought it up on's Child Caring blog. The reactions in the comments were interesting -- take a moment to check them out.)

Now, I don't think of Valentine's Day as a religious holiday, and I do see the point in trying to prevent kids from getting their feelings hurt ("Jimmy gave Cathy a card but not me! Waaaaaa!"), but avoiding it entirely? Why?

Most kids are aware of Valentine's day -- it's a mainstream "holiday," and we're inundated with advertising and programming and craft ideas for and about it. So why not celebrate the day in the classroom and use it as a chance to teach kids about the importance of friendship and caring for others? Shift the focus away from hearts and candy and have kids bring flowers and fun to a retirement home. Collect donations for a food pantry, or bring books and toys to the children's wing of a hospital.

I baked tiny cookies for my kids' classmates anyway -- if they can't have a party, they can just call it snack. And I'll be making cards for my kids tonight, just little notes telling them how important they are to me, sealed with a lipstick kiss.

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day with your kids? Should it be kept out of the classroom?

No comments: