Do you have a Preschool Birthday Party or Celebration policy or philosophy for your classroom?
Birthdays are a huge deal…especially when you have only had 3 of them or less in your lifetime!
If you don’t have a plan for birthdays, I highly recommend that you (and your team) meet together to decide on one.
Children are creatures of habit and if something is done for one child at their birthday but not for another child, you KNOW they will not only be aware of it, but call you out on it!
This page has an article on how to set a consistent and fair policy as well as how we handle birthdays in our classroom.
Some questions to consider when deciding how or if you will have a preschool birthday party in your classroom or a different type of celebration of the birthday:
Is it ok for snacks to be provided by the family for snack time? Is sending in a cake or cupcakes okay with your program? What will you do about allergies or food restrictions? Is there a concern about too much sugar?
Will you use an actual candle on the snack or treat? Who will provide this?
Will the child have a special crown or chair or classroom job on their special day? Who will be responsible to prepare these items?
Will you announce to the families that it is someone’s birthday? (Such as a poster outside the classroom, newsletter or calendar announcement, etc.)
Do you have a special birthday song to sing?
Will the child receive a special gift or card from the teachers?
How will you celebrate birthdays that fall on a day of the week that the child is absent or not in school (such as weekend birthdays or summer birthdays for children not in school in the summer)? Will you celebrate birthdays ON each child’s birthday or will you have a birthday celebration once a month for everyone with a birthday that particular month? Will you have an “un-birthday” celebration for those who will not be in your program on their birthday?
You will come up with other questions and/or ideas as you brainstorm. Once you have decided on how you will handle birthdays, write it up officially. Have each of the teachers review it and think about other questions/concerns and then meet again to make changes.
Once you have a final birthday policy, so to speak, start planning for the year:
1. Let the families know how birthdays are handled in your classroom. Distribute the information so that the families are aware and can all be consistent.
2. Purchase in advance any items you will need for the year! Birthday banner, cards, token gifts that you give from the children (book, stickers, etc.), crowns, candles, tablecloth, etc.
3. Assign responsibility for birthdays: Who will prepare for each birthday? If it will be announced in the school or class newsletter, is that person aware of the children’s birthdates?
Turning 3 or 4 or 5 is a big deal! Handling it consistently for each child will make that day a special one for your students-they will look forward to their special day in school!
Our Preschool Birthday Party Is a Food Free Celebration
Our program was a half day program and the children's classes were either 2 mornings per week or 3 mornings per week depending upon their age.
Now, if we had two or more preschool birthday party or celebration days on the same day, our children would be bouncing off the wall with the multiple cupcakes, cake or ice cream!
I suspect the same problem would arise if we were a full day program!
In addition, we do have a healthy snack policy in place.
Our parent handbook outlines the healthy snack policy as well as the birthday celebration "policy", if you will.
Our healthy snack section is as follows:
"Our preschool program encourages healthy eating habits. It is the requirement of the school that parents provide their child with a healthy snack for school.
Some ideas for acceptable healthy school snacks are: (and here we list items as suggestions such as fruit, yogurt, vegetables and dip, cheese and crackers, etc.)
Items that are not allowed are listed here. We list things like soda, beverages with caffeine, sugar drinks such as kool-aid, cupcakes, potato chips, etc. We also have a NO PEANUT policy due to allergies.
If your child arrives with an item from this list of foods not allowed, your child will be provided with a snack by the preschool. Your child’s snack will be returned home with the child and a note as to why it is being returned. Thank you for adhering to our healthy snack policy."
I know, seems like a lot. However, parents are aware of this before they consider our program. It is not something that we spring on them during the year.
This information is in the parent handbook, it is one of the items we discuss with the parent at a tour when they come to see the preschool and it is discussed at the Parent Orientation meeting before school begins.
When we need to send a child's snack home (like chocolate, chips, etc.), we provide a snack and send a note home reminding them of this policy.
That is the backdrop to our birthday celebration.
The section in our parent handbook regarding preschool birthdays is as follows:
"Each child’s birthday is celebrated in the classroom. Due to multiple allergies, we do not celebrate with treats/food of any kind. Children receive a crown and there will be singing and birthday dancing or games on the day closest to their birthday. We also have an special “un-birthday” day at the end of the school year for children with summer birthdays."
You will need to decide on what meets your class or program policies and expectations.
We realize that birthdays are only once a year, and they are very special and exciting.
We know that some parents want a celebration to take place and have it low key.
We also know that some celebrations will be over the top (decorations, multiple candles, games, "treat bags" with small items, candy, etc.
Here is how a typical birthday morning will go:
We place a large announcement of the birthday on the door before the children arrive announcing the birthday child(s) special day!
The child chooses their favorite color for a crown. The teacher traces, cuts and decorates a crown for the child.
A special Birthday Announcement Card is taped to the child's cubby and a Birthday Pencil or book or some token is in their cubby as a gift.
At snack time, we ALL sing a special happy birthday song to the birthday child. One year, we had 3 birthdays on the same day and yes--we sang 3 times!
That's it! Simple but the children KNOW when it is their day, it is their day! We do not think a child will be damaged from not having a cupcake at school on that day! A preschool birthday party, as many of you know, can get out of hand. Add that to the fear of cross-contamination of foods with children who have allergies or food sensitivities. It can unknowingly become a very unhealthy celebration.
In the classroom, we have the opportunity to keep the preschool birthday party or celebration consistant each of the 32 times it happens each year!