The holidays are right around the corner, I can smell it. Bring out the bakeware, get ready to roll a cheese ball, get your shopping goggles on. Every year in this season I feel the nagging weight of obligation in the pit of my stomach to be the super parent in my children’s classrooms. There’s the dilemma of the perfect (and cheap-with-out-appearing-cheap) teacher gift and there’s the responsibility of volunteering for one of the many holiday parties. Being a teacher and a parent, I have a little insight into both of these seemingly simple, but agonizingly complicated tasks.
First of all, parents, don’t bake for your children’s teachers. We’re all watching our weight (most of us watching it add up) and receive enough sugary bake goods each year to induce a diabetic coma. This may seem the most thrifty of holiday gifts, but when you factor in time, it’s a money pit. Gift cards are easy and always appreciated (even in the most meager amounts). A $5.00 coffee card or Target card is much appreciated.
Another helpful (and free) alternative to gift giving, is to offer a service. Most holiday parties involve food. I recently volunteered at my son’s Halloween party and watched six mothers load up pumpkin plates with chocolate chip cookies, brownies, cupcakes and more; it was painful to watch these kiddos, pupils constricted, trying to cram in all the sugar put before them. A simple substitute that will not lead to childhood obesity is planning a holiday game. Trust me, by the final hour on a Friday before a holiday break, the last thing a teacher wants to do is lead an activity. Teachers and students will be happy, and you’ll leave feeling like a parent rock star. Here are a couple easy suggestions:
Musical pads: Similar to musical chairs, kids will dance around the room to holiday-themed music (I used “Thriller” last Friday) until the music stops, then must land on one of the pads placed around the room. Fold the pads in half after each round while kids scramble to fit on, holding on to each other for support. Very cute in action!
Materials: Cut out large pieces of color-themed paper or use old bath towels and place around the room. CD player with appropriate holiday music. Space.
Paper Clip Game: A great silent game with no loser. Kids will put their heads down on the desk with their eyes closed. You will walk around the room and place a giant paper clip on one lucky student’s clothing. Ask students to put their heads up, then students silently walk around the room looking for the clip. When they find it, they silently sit down; the objective is to not be the last one standing. Remind students not to shout out or point when they find it, and whoever has the clip has to pretend they are looking for it as well.
Materials: Giant paper clip, space, desks.
Good luck parents! See you on the other side of this holiday season.