Celebrating Your Child's Birthday at School

If your child has a birthday during the school year, he might want an in-school party. Some do's and don'ts.

By FamilyTime


Some of us have memories of sharing cupcakes with our classmates to celebrate childhood birthdays. It was an exciting moment when we spied our mom walking through the classroom door with a box of treats. While this kind of party is still permitted at some schools, it is not necessarily the norm.

Many schools discourage in-school parties for any number of reasons, ranging from the disruption they cause to the daily routine to the fear of food allergies. Before you plan one, check with the teacher or school principal and find out the school's policy.

The Right Age for Parties
Not all children want a party at school. Kindergartners, first- and second-graders are usually excited by the idea. Older children may not be.

Discuss the idea with your youngster before making any plans.

Work with the School
If your child's school permits or encourages in-school celebrations, talk with the classroom teacher before you organize the party.

Find out what day and what time she or he feels is best for the party. You don't want the excitement of a party to interfere with classroom work.

The teacher might want all parties celebrated at the end of the day on Fridays when the kids are winding down anyhow. Or, she might want you to arrive before or after recess, after lunch, or mid morning.

Increasingly, school districts do not allow food brought in from the outside (even your own kitchen). This is because of the real possibility of a parent unwittingly bringing in food that triggers food allergies. Some schools permit only certain foods. Some forbid them totally.

If the school allows cupcakes, great! Make simple ones (no nuts, caffeine or liquor). And then ask the teacher before you light a candle; these are a fire hazard.

Beyond Cupcakes
If your child's school restricts food for parties, think of other ways to celebrate. They might allow balloons -- although these present a choking risk -- or streamers.

Party hats add an air of celebration. Bring a crown or extra-special hat for the birthday celebrant.

Plan an easy game or sing along.

Ask the teacher if you could organize an art project that would be fun for the kids. Let the birthday boy or girl choose the project or work on it with Mom.

If it's springtime, bring in small flowering plants that the children can pot in tiny plastic pots and take home. If it's the fall, maybe they can glue colorful leaves you have collected to sheets of paper. If the party falls near a holiday, check with the teacher to see if the school marks it and then if so, plan an art project around it.

Arrive with several library books and let the kids decide which to read. Gather them in a circle and let the birthday boy or girl sit in the center.

Party Favors
While there is no need for party favors at in-school birthday parties, some parents like to give them. Don't bring candy without asking the teacher first.

Bag up simple, age-appropriate toys, card games, or school supplies (pencils, erasers, sharpeners, small notebooks). Kids love stickers and you can buy four- or six-packs and divide them among the classmates.

Keep these favors inexpensive and to a minimum. The kids care more about getting a little gift than they care about the actual item!

Keep it Short
Ask the classroom teacher how long you should stay for the party. Do not stay a minute longer!

Be sure to allow time to clean and pack up. Encourage the kids to help tidy up and make sure you leave the classroom as you found it -- do not expect the teacher or any classroom aids to pick up after you.

Call or email the teacher that evening or the next day, or write her a note and thank her for letting you celebrate your child's special day with the class.