Class parties are an important and fun part of school. Why do I say important? Well, they build community, help us connect with each other, give us (hopefully) fun, shared memories and create opportunities to take a short break and celebrate. You and your students work hard. Sometimes we need a bit of a break to reenergize us and give us perspective.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought I’d share a few tips for managing not only the party details, but the parents (and their) expectations that come with class parties. Let’s face it. Running your classroom is one thing, but add a roomful of parents into the mix and it’s a whole other ballgame. An organized, well-run party is not only more fun, but it’s a chance for parents to see and feel confident in your ability to manage the class. Don’t pass up this opportunity to build some good will and to shine.
Now, if you have fabulous room parent planning and running your class parties, this post is not for you. But if that’s not your situation, here’s some help.
Super Mom (or Dad) - organized, reasonable, realistic and fun
No managing necessary. Just give them your parameters and expectations and let them run with it.
Fun Mom (or Dad) - lots of fun things but disorganized and poor management or unreasonable expectations
Be firm and clear with your expectations. It helps to write them out in a list for this parent. Create a party timeline with slots for them to fill in the activities. Send the emails to families yourself.
Good Intentions Parent - lots of ideas but poor follow through
Set clear with your expectations with deadlines for each. Check in with them the day before each deadline and the day of the deadline for progress. This parent does better with an ordered checklist. Create a party timeline with slots for them to fill in the activities. Send the emails to families yourself.
No Mom (or Dad) - No room parent. It’s all up to you, the teacher.
Using your parameters and expectations, create a checklist of action items and a timeline for the party. Check Pinterest for ideas and decide on your activities. Create templates for parent party emails that you can edit and reuse for each party during the year.
Parameters: Time: Day, time and how long will the party last?
Activities: What kinds of activities are acceptable to you? What variety of activities do you want - story, food, games, puzzles, crafts? How many activities do you want? Do you want stations students will rotate through, whole class activities or a mix?
Exceptions: If you teach upper elementary, sometimes students just want to do one activity and then eat and hang out together with no schedule.
Schedule: How will the party flow? Whole class activities tend to be easiest first or last with individual things sandwiched in the middle.
Little or No Parent Help: Depending on the type of class you have, either do each activity as a class or create stations around the room with clear expectations. any games that need managing should be done as a class.
Back to Business: If your party is not at the end of the day, how will you bring your students back down to reality? Have a plan or it will be a wasted day. Often it helps to go outside for a bit of recess to wear everyone out and create a natural transition back into “class time mode”.
Have 2 exit lines ready. Practice them at home over and over until they come out quickly and naturally. Say your line, and then, quickly walk away.
I’d love to chat with you about this, but I’m the hostess and need to circulate. Please send me an email with a request for a meeting so we can talk privately.
or… Thanks so much for chatting with me. Now I need to make sure everyone else gets some of my time as well.
or… I don’t want to take all of your time. I know you’re here for your child, so I’ll let you get over there and check on him/her.
Emails: Announcing party time/date and request for volunteers and donations.
Storage: Create a spot for donations as they come in.
Decorate: Will you do it, a parent or will your students help decorate? When? How many decorations do you want?
Cleanup: Who will help clean up and when? Don’t leave it all for you when everyone is gone. Have a box of large baggies to package up leftover food and send leftover food items home with the students who brought it.
Hope your Valentine’s Day is filled with fun!