Kids will be kids, and we can celebrate our littlest ones. A common gripe among teachers and parents alike is that “kids can’t be kids anymore.” Schools and society expect a lot from little ones and make it easy for them to grow up too fast. But, every spring, there is a blissful celebration rejoicApr 12, 2018
Kids will be kids, and we can celebrate our littlest ones.
A common gripe among teachers and parents alike is that “kids can’t be kids anymore.” Schools and society expect a lot from little ones and make it easy for them to grow up too fast. But, every spring, there is a blissful celebration rejoicing in the wonder and joy of being a young kid: Week of the Young Child. Sadly, not many know about it. Luckily, you now do — and can create a festival showcasing early learning.
Week of the What?
Week of the Young Child has been sponsored each spring since 1971 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to show the importance of learning from birth to age 8. This year’s festivities start Monday, April 16 and end Friday, April 20.
Make It Your Own
The NAEYC has a suggested theme for each day, but how it plays out is totally up to you and your school. Here are ways to make it your own:
NAEYC Theme: Music Monday, highlighting the importance of music in learning
Try This: Throw a sock hop. Kids can dance with their shoes off, show off some especially fabulous socks, and it can be quick (and free!). Or, check if any local dance teams would be willing to put in community service hours to lead kids in a more structured dance experience.
NAEYC Theme: Tasty Tuesday, promoting healthy eating to combat childhood obesity
Try This: Throw a family picnic. Parents can bring the snacks — just make sure the flyer lets them know to keep it healthy — and kids can bring the blankets. Include an outdoor read-aloud about healthy eating, such as Lizzy Rockwell’s “Good Enough to Eat.”
NAEYC Theme: Work Together Wednesday, for the impact of cooperation and building in math and science education
Try This: Partner with students in older grades and create a building challenge, such as making a sailboat. Or, have students create parts of the community (buildings, park, etc.) out of construction paper and then put them all together into a large-scale diorama. “Froggy Builds A Tree House” is a great read-aloud on building and cooperation.
NAEYC Theme: Artsy Thursday, highlighting learning through creativity
Try This: Make a mural. Handprints are the, well, handiest art tool that kids have. Pick a theme or scene (a spring garden, the school mascot, etc.), and let each student paint and press their handprint into it, making handprint butterflies and flowers. This can be done by a single class, or, with careful planning, across multiple classes or grades.
NAEYC Theme: Family Friday, because the school-family connection is vital
Try This: Throw a vocabulary parade. Send home a list of words that match your recent units of study ahead of time, and let families create a costume showing one word come to life. Parents come back to school to watch their child “parade” their chosen word down a hallway or in the classroom. Parents and kids can even educate students in other classes on what their word means.
Get the School on Board
Telling the principal you plan on having a week-long party may not be the ideal way to sell this. Instead, come with a plan — and a team!
- Start small: Set aside half an hour each day to do something special the first year.
- Get other teachers involved: This tactic is a great way to collaborate between Pre-K to third grade.
- Make it easy: Have a clear-cut plan of events that already includes dates, times, supplies needed, and any permission slips or flyers to be sent home.
- Make it a showcase of students’ hard work: Fill bulletin boards, ask for students to do the announcements, and partner with older grades to show just how hard the young ones work at learning.