Importance of Celebrations… | By: Committee for Children We must celebrate in our classrooms. We must teach that learning is about fun, excitement, and joy! Celebrations are the perfect opportunity! What do I mean by celebrations? They can take on many forms. Here is a list of ways you can bring celebrations into your classroom and teach our children that in life and learning, happiness and pride are great feelings to acknowledge, feel, and celebrate. Celebrate: Each other! Simple celebrations for birthdays are an easy way to bring joy. Children love to feel special on their special day and most teachers do this. It doesn't have to include food or even much class time. A simple song and then a treat shared by the child, maybe that “treat” is a book they brought to share from home with the class. Celebrate: Holidays! This is another obvious way and a great way to celebrate. Just remember to find out the holidays that the children in your class celebrate. This is a fun way to celebrate the whole child and even invite families in to share. The diversity our children bring from all over the world makes our classrooms in our country unique and we must not ignore this special quality of our learners and our country. This is learning in itself and also increases empathy in our students. Celebrate: Learning! Integrating a celebration at the end of a unit is a great way to keep the joy alive! I have always incorporated a special celebration at the end of my reading and writing units. Even if the celebration is as simple as the students sharing their favorite story with a partner or as grand as publishing their persuasive essays to the editor of a newspaper, having a final hurray and the end of a unit is huge! Students love to showcase their work and share with an audience. A science unit is always fun to share journals with another class or do a special project. In social studies there are great ways to celebrate whether it is through a special night like International night, a field trip, or a community service project that the class comes together at the end to celebrate their learning and great growth over that period. It gives closure and also a since of pride for all their hard work. This skill is one as we grow older that allows us to not burn out. It allows us to applaud ourselves, reflect, and begin again- a life skill for sure. Celebrate: Every day little things! This is where gratitude can be woven into the day. Little things like these are what many call the “teachable moments”. When we as educators take advantage of these moments we are celebrating the child’s interest, question, or discovery about a topic. By following their lead we celebrate the little things that occur- whether it was the discovery of a bird nest at recess, a tooth falling out, or a conversation of where two students were solving a problem together. When we stop to recognize this learning that children are doing on their own, we reinforce behaviors and thinking we are trying to teach. Many of these are not just academic, but social and emotional skills! Celebrate: Big things! Growth is huge. Setting goals in the beginning of the year and then revisiting them at the end of the year is where the celebration can be! Were they met? Was their progress? How did they meet their goals? Student led conferences where the students guide their families through different areas, including their social and emotional goals is one of my favorite celebrations of all. Students beam and so do parents during these conferences. The children have not only learned goal setting strategies, have kept track of their work, how to present it, but have learned that hard work makes a difference. Celebrate! Now, can there be a summer goal created?