As a teacher, I'm used to celebrating children's birthdays at school. It's a joyous occasion. However, it's important to remember that the school day is busy. In addition, there are 20 to 30 other kids in the class. Thus, keep your birthday plans simple, safe and fun. Here are some tips, from a parent and a teacher, on what to bring to school for your child's birthday.
Follow school rules
Many schools have started a policy where only store bought items can be brought in. In addition, there may be restrictions on what types of foods can be shared. At some schools, food may not even be allowed at all. Although my daughter doesn't have any allergies, she goes to a "nut-free" preschool. Thus, if I bring in an item, it can't be made at any facility that shares equipment with nut products. In general, make sure to ask before you buy.
Keep it simple
Although it may be your child's birthday, there are probably many lessons for the teacher to complete. Assemblies, grade level activities and assessments might have been on the calendar for months. Thus, realize that the celebration will be brief. In addition, bringing in cupcakes or muffins is probably better than a cake. Or perhaps your child wants to pass out a goodie bag for his or her classmates. Typically, I reserved time at the end of the day for these celebrations. We often sang "Happy Birthday" and then gave time for the kids to enjoy their treats and socialize.
Respect the teacher's time
There have been plenty of times when someone brought in a cake and nothing else. Thus, if you bring in a food item, make sure to bring in forks, plates and napkins, too. I always had these items on hand but not every teacher does. In general, communicate to the teacher when you are coming and what you are bringing.
I once had a parent bring in a giant sharp knife to cut a cake. Remember, that there are many children in a classroom so safety should be a top priority. Bringing in a cake with 10 sparkler candles probably isn't a good idea either. For young kids, stay away from choking hazards like hard candy and popcorn. Finally, be considerate of other children who might have allergies to nuts, diary or other foods.
I think it is fine for kids to indulge in a treat. Yet, keep it reasonable. Chocolate milk and cupcakes is a bit of a sugar overload. Dipped strawberries or blueberry muffins are another fun, yet healthier option. If you still want cupcakes, consider a lower sugar version with cream cheese frosting. You can also opt to have your child hand out something fun like coloring books to celebrate the occasion. In general, think outside the box.
In the end, the school celebration should be an event that your child will remember. Involve your child in the process and be respectful of everyone involved.