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Celebrating Valentine’s Day at School

Kids cut out hearts for Valentine's Day at school

We all remember what it was like to celebrate Valentine’s Day at school. You would make cards for your friends and hope that all your friends remembered to write one for you! Celebrating Valentine’s Day at school can be such a fun tradition, but you must tread carefully.

“I like to focus on friendship and build an inclusive classroom,” says Dimitra Tsolos, a grade 3-4 teacher in the Toronto District School Board. “We read stories about friendship, make cards, talk about empathy and have a little party.”

But, says Tsolos, there are a few things parents should keep in mind to ensure that Valentine’s Day remains a positive experience for all children:

  • Ask your teacher for a list of all the student’s first names and make sure that your child gives a card to everyone in the class. All kids look forward to receiving a Valentine’s card and you don’t want to risk excluding anyone. Some teachers may ask you to not add names so they are easier to pass out. 
  • Make sure that the language your child uses to write the cards is affirmative. Ensure they use positive language and not sentences such as, “you are sometimes nice,” or “you were once nice to me.”
  • If you are having difficulty convincing your child to use empathetic language or write a card for everyone, use the opportunity to ask them how they would feel if the roles were reversed and they didn’t get a nice card – or a card at all. Empathy is an important skill for children to learn.
  • Encourage your child to create their own card out of construction paper instead of buying a set of boxed cards. Then have them decorate each card in their own unique way. Let their imaginations fly!
  • If you would like to bring in a treat for your child’s class, ask the teacher first and be respectful of allergies and opt for school-safe products.
  • There is also a focus on healthy eating, so consider bringing in chocolate-dipped fruit or granola bars instead of chocolate bars and candy.
  • Sometimes, parents like to bring gifts for teachers. Examples of appropriate gifts are a coffee, card or chocolates. It’s the thought that counts!

There is one classroom activity that Tsolos created for Valentine’s Day. You might want to suggest this to your child’s teacher or keep it in mind when writing cards for your child’s classmates.

  • I like to brainstorm ways we can show appreciation for other, keeping in mind the character education traits of Toronto District School Board… Respect, responsibility, kindness and caring, empathy, teamwork, fairness, honesty, cooperation, integrity, perseverance
  • Think/pair/share and discuss ways that we could tell our friends how much they mean to us.
  • Each child fills out a card for each of their classmates. The template is: “Dear xx, One great thing I like about you is (fill in blank). Happy Valentine’s Day! From xx.”
  • Once I have reviewed each student’s work, they decorate each one.
  • All the cards are handed out on Valentine’s Day and by the end, every student has cards that reflect what their classmates like about them. It’s a confidence builder and a real feel good exercise!

Originally published in 2012. 

a man carrying two children

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