I have a 3rd grader with a birthday coming up, and am planning on sending some homemade cupcakes along to school with her. However, there's one child in her class that keeps kosher and always feels left out on the birthday treats.
Reno (where we live) does not have a very large Jewish population, and I have very little clue about the dietary laws, etc. I'm sure MY kitchen isn't kosher, at the very least.
So, is there anything I can send along specifically for that child? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Most of us with school-aged kids have faced this dilemma in one form or another. Classroom birthdays, school holiday parties…when food is involved, things get complicated. You know what prompted Turi to write in? Her 3rd grade daughter came home worried that this student would feel left out.
What to do? Frankly, I don't see a simple solution. Parents are in a bind when the classroom has a tradition of birthday celebrations with treats. Not only do health issues and religious and/or ethical choices come up, everyone struggles with worries about inclusion and being singled out.
Even when kids don't have food issues, I don't hear parents lobbying for more sugar at school. (It still surprises me that many of my kids' teachers regularly reward their students with candy.)
What about non-food treats? Well, that fixes one problem but creates another: clutter. Buying a classroom 30 of anything that's not a throwaway is pretty expensive.
On the other hand, diversity is one of the best ways for our kids to learn empathy. How wonderful that Turi's daughter had an opportunity to learn not only about another culture, but about another kid's feelings.
Here's what I would say to Turi: the thing about keeping Kosher is that technically the food needs to be cooked in a Kosher kitchen. But some people observe that rule a little less stringently, so I think the best thing is to give this kid's parents a call. Surely they've dealt with this before? They should either have a) a store-bought solution or b) clarification on what would work.
Which brings me to what I think is the silver lining in all this: Choosing classroom treats gives you an opportunity to get to know other parents. It's not easy to pick up the phone and call someone you don't know, but it's the best way to break down the anonymity some of us feel in the school community.
Good things happen when the parents of classmates know each other. Social gatherings are easier. Play dates are more likely. Problems are less awkward to solve. As important: you'll feel less isolated. Your adult sounding board will be larger than just the teacher. You'll have more context for your kid's school day.
What do you say, Parenthackers? How do you handle classroom birthday celebrations? Or treats in the classroom?
Cupcake photo credit: Frederic Bisson via Flickr/Creative Commons