In less than a week many parents and teachers will be scurrying about to ensure their child has a valentine for each student in their class. Teachers lose another day of quality instruction as parties usually dictate the order of the day. If they don’t the pupils squirm about in excitement and too often sugar load.
Some instructors and administrators have banned the tradition in order to facilitate test scores meet their competitive needs to secure funding and keep jobs. Others know that Scrooge doesn’t accomplish that anyway, so you may as well allow the children to have fun.
Then the creative teacher finds a way to slip in that education through the fun. I don’t have solutions that fit all grades, but here is one phonetic reading coloring sheet, RojoValentinesDay, for 1st through 3rd. And those of you that fall below or above these levels you can certainly modify my solution to meet your particular classroom needs.
Then comes the trouble of the valentines cards. Some teachers send a list of names home ahead. Others instruct the children to leave them nameless. Here’s another idea that ensures no one is left out by common human error. “To You” My daughter concluded this as she prepared her valentines early this year. She said, “Mommy, being new I can’t remember everyone’s names much less spell them.” Throw in a couple of extra “To You”s in case one gets lost or a new student shows up. You can always keep the extras for next year if you need.
Teachers, consider restricting the valentines to just paper cards. No candy or gifts permitted. Why? It becomes a who gave what competition and then children go home with more candy than any human body (much less child) should process. It also makes children who give a plain valentine remember that maybe their in a different economic class than the others and possibly artificially puffs up the ones who’s parents paid for the over the top valentines.
Offer one reasonable snack that has some nutritional value to it like a cookie, brownie, cupcake, or cake instead of candy. Candy is just pure sugar. If one has a parent who will offer an attractive strawberry or fruit/vegetable snack, that’s even better.
Another thought I’d like to propose is to consider fostering a love for reading over eating. I realize I’m an author and learning nerd to start out with, but my daughter truly values a good book over any food treat. I quantify “good” book because I believe there’s a lot of trash to be read out there. Children need to be feed good ideas just like they need to be feed food. Life experience will dish out enough dark over time, so take time to see what they are reading and make sure it’s full of inspiration to grow well.
There are a plethora of wonderful children’s books that writers of the past and present have written. Of course I’m promoting my own, Rojo, The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo, but I really hoping to influence for much more. I’m promoting my fellow colleagues that I’ve met along the way like books by Anita Sax, Kat Magnoli, Brad Meltzer, and Karen Kilpatrick. None of who paid for me to mention their names and only one of can count on his book writing to make a living. (btw: did you know most of the book promotions you hear about are paid ones? It’s very tough business.)
Then there are just loads of favorites that I’ve encountered and read to my daughter like The Adam Racoon series by Glen Keane, You are Special series by Max Lucado, Bernard Waber‘s Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, and Dr. Seuss’s deeper picture books like Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories.
As I wrap up may I emphasize that this holiday of “love” out to be an opportunity to display it? And the kind of love I’m talking about is respect. Respect yourself to set reasonable mannerly limits with others and respect others by listening with empathy and a willingness to learn why they may feel and behave the way they do. Then the world might become a better place for all. Happy Valentine’s Day.