Erin Chawla: The Kiducation Learning Curve


St. Valentine is Asking, “To Treat or Not to Treat?”

Let's foster friendships instead of sugary treats

Are you planning to send Valentine’s Day goodies into school? Traditions are important in families, in cultures, and in creating a sense of community. When holidays come around throughout the school year, students get excited about taking time away from the everyday academics and bringing some traditions into the classroom. Enter Valentine’s Day, with its chocolaty treats, candy hearts, and little paper cards adorned with trendy characters. The students have their Cupid arrows aimed at a Valentine extravaganza.

And, as the home bell rings at 3:30pm on Feb. 14th, the teachers are left with desks glossy with chip oil, carpets decorated with spilled drinks, and a recycle bin brimming with forgotten cards. To me, this tradition seems wasteful, lacking in nutritional value, and rife with potential allergy threats. At the risk of being a Valentine’s Day Scrooge, I saystop the madness!

Here is what I would like to see in my classroom: Yes! Let’s honour the Valentine’s Day tradition by making crafts and cards for our loved ones. I will cherish every misspelled, crooked handicraft my daughter brings home to me. My classroom always welcomes creativity and artistry. And yes! Let’s have a celebration. Let’s join together as a classroom community and have some fun. I am a big believer that fun most definitely belongs in school. I will set some time aside on Valentine’s Day, during which we will take a break from our work, crank up some feel-good music, and play a few games. I would like our Valentine’s celebration to be full of laughter, friendship, and togetherness.

Here is what I don’t want to see: No sugar! No junk food! Please don’t send in the over-processed, store-bought, unhealthy treats. I know, I know, there is a place for food being synonymous with celebration, but please, not in my classroom. We just don’t need it. And no, Supermom, I don’t even want your beautifully decorated, heart-shaped cupcakes! Of course, I appreciate the effort you put in and the happiness those cupcakes bring your child. But, I also see the kids who feel badly that they didn’t bring a treat, or feel labelled because they can’t eat your well-intentioned goodies due to religious or health reasons. Many schools and school boards are laying down strict guidelines on treats being brought and shared at school, as we strive to teach kids healthy ways of eating.

And nope, I don’t want to see the little Valentine’s cards. I know, I know, your child loves picking out their box of cards and deciding who gets what. I do appreciate the writing practice this practice entails for younger learners, but I see little value beyond that. Inevitably, these cards end up causing hurt feelings. Even when there is a lovely wee note for everyone in the class, there still may be some subtle put-downs perceived. Trust me, someone will be upset that they were intentionally given the least popular member of One Direction. And don’t even get me started on the waste and the commercialism of all that paper!

So, I say, bring on a classroom party filled with entertaining activities that foster community and friendship among students. But let’s teach our kids that fun doesn’t have to equal commercialism and sugary treats. This year, let’s celebrate heart day in a heart healthy, save-the-planet way.

This is just one teacher’s opinion. Thoughts?

As always, enjoy the journey!