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Valentine's Day Party Success [With Less Stress]

class parties Feb 06, 2020
With Valentine's Day coming, do you have a plan for both fun and staying in control of your class?

You'll have to both manage a hyped up class AND their parents. While class parties are an important and fun part of school, they can be stressful! Are you ready?

We know class parties are important. They build community, help us connect with each other, give us (hopefully) some 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. In addition, parties can also be a great time to teach some social skills - greeting guests, making others feel welcome, party behavior, etc.

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 and plenty of helpful [not overbearing] parents, this post is not for you. But if that’s not your situation, here’s some help.

Here's a few types of room parents you might have encountered.
  • 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 are planned, but disorganized, poor management or unreasonable expectations make parties [and students] crazy.

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.

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS: BE PREPARED WITH YOUR EXPECTATIONS AND BOUNDARIES.
  • Parameters: Day, time and how long will the party last? Have a definite end time for the party that leaves time for cleanup. 

  • 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? Think about what YOUR class can handle. See below for a simple activity you can do with any Valentine's Day story.

  • 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 thing with individual or group activities afterward.

  • 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 “learning mode”.

PARTY HAZARDS TO AVOID

Parents who want to monopolize your time and talk about their child. 

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.

For example:

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.

Parents who want to mine for information about other children.

Once again, being prepared is key. Have your exit lines ready.

For example:

Oh, please excuse me. It's so nice see you, but I’m the hostess and need to circulate. 

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.

If all else fails, be direct:

I can't discuss other student's personal information. I'm sure you understand.

PREP AND CLEANUP
  • Emails: Announcing party time/date and request for volunteers and donations.

  • Storage: Create a spot for donations as they come in.

  • Decorate: Who will do this?  You, 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. Use baggies to package up any crafts or uneaten treats that might be messy on the way home [parent's will love you for this one].

  • Bonus Points: Have a thank you email template prepared. You can quickly edit it and send it home right after school with a picture of the fun.
Here's a simple, no prep Valentine's Day Activity you can do with almost any Valentine's Day story:

Have your students create a valentine for the main character of the story. The valentine should fit the character [be specific to them] in some way. Take the time to chat about the character's traits you gather from the story both explicit [listed] and implicit [implied or hinted at] in the story. Be detectives and gather evidence. Then, have students design their valentines. 

Hope your Valentine’s Day is filled with fun!

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