On Friday, I started my morning by reading Doug Peterson‘s This Week In Ontario Edublogs post. One of the blog posts that he featured in here was a recent one by Kelly McLaughlin about Valentine’s Day. It’s one that I’ve returned to a few times now, especially when considering these tweets that I sent out on Thursday evening.
The most interesting part about these tweets are the replies that I got to them. Here are the screenshots of all of these replies, many of which include a similar message: there is little child interest or demand for Valentine’s Day this year.
As I’ve blogged about before, I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. I crave routine, and the variations in routine on a “party day” become too much for me. Add in the sugar highs, and this is usually a day where I’m counting down the minutes until the end-of-the-day bell rings — which is so not like me. I did love our World’s Smallest Valentine’s Day space from years ago, but with social distancing, I wonder if we’ll ever get an area like this back again.
Now though comes our conundrum: knowing that the Kindergarten Program Document is all about following the child’s lead, if children are not seeking to celebrate Valentine’s Day, could we skip it?
All year long, we support students in celebrating friendship, exhibiting kindness, and giving to others. Children have been wrapping gifts for each other, for their parents, and for the fairies for months now. We always have cards and envelopes out, and children write notes almost every day to somebody.
I think about this most amazing moment from the end of the day on Friday.
My teaching partner, Paula, and I are all about exposing students to new experiences to help build schema and generate new interests, but is Valentine’s Day an experience that needs to be explored on a large scale at school or could the topics of “love” and “friendship” be supported in other ways instead?
Here’s what we decided to do to safely celebrate Valentine’s Day this year for those students that are interested.
We know that some of our children will get Valentine’s Day gifts at home in the morning, which will likely generate discussion at school tomorrow. And so, we’re going to look at Jim Dine and Romero Britto‘s heart art. We’re also going to look at more Olympic provocations to align with this evolving student interest, stemming from the Fairy Sports Stadium and an end to lockdown in Fairy Village.
As always, we’ll try to observe and follow the lead of the child: maybe this will be down the path of hearts and Valentines, maybe it will be down the path of sports and the Olympics, or maybe it will be down a different path altogether. I keep thinking about the title of Kelly’s post inspired by a conversation with her intermediate students: “I’ve been forced to celebrate Valentine’s Day all my life!” As educators, if we are forcing this, then why, and could COVID be supporting us in considering a different approach? The concern might be what’s lost if Valentine’s Day celebrations are no longer a school focus, but I have to wonder what might be gained.