It’s time for your class party, but you and I both know that kids show big feelings during parties. It is perfectly fine to celebrate your students, and it is perfectly fine for them to show their feelings. But let’s talk about how they can do that in a healthy environment.
Before we get started, make sure you check out a recent blog post where I show you how to have the best taco party ever!
Before you get started with your class party, share your itinerary with the class. You can do this during your morning meeting or morning circle, and you can also have this itinerary displayed on the board so they can see it. If you know a student is susceptible to being overwhelmed at a party, you might want to consider printing out this itinerary so they can keep it at their desk.
Be clear on the consequences, whether it is a good or bad consequence. Discuss what will happen if they are sitting at their desk smiling and laughing with your friend. Discuss what will happen if they get up and run around the classroom and scream.
Some topics to consider are what may happen if…
- I scream?
- I stay calm?
- someone else screams?
- someone is talking too loudly?
You know what it’s like walking into a room and seeing a lot of people. Suddenly, you feel alone because everyone is talking to other people, and they all look at you like you are some stranger. That’s what it can feel like for our students. Talk to your students about feeling overwhelmed.
We all react differently. Some of us want to jump on the table and start dancing, while others want to curl in a ball and leave the room as soon as possible. I recommend discussing what strategies your students can use when they feel overwhelmed at a party.
Speaking of strategies, one helpful strategy for dealing with that overwhelming feeling of anxiety has a quiet, safe place where that student can go and sit alone. When they are ready to join the party, they can.
For impulsive students, you can introduce a balloon breathing strategy. Basically, students pretend that there is a balloon in their chest. They must inhale slowly to blow up the balloon. Then, they exhale slowly to release the balloon. This breathing exercise helps them calm down.
If you have students who are sensitive to sound, I recommend avoiding loud music. Have you ever walked into Hollister? If so, you know that it’s tough to have a conversation with anyone but yourself because the music is deafening. If music is necessary, I would recommend keeping your playlist at a low volume.
In addition to sound sensitivity, you may want to consider students who are sensitive to lights. Try to avoid flashing lights. If you’re able, try to let in as much natural light as possible. Most days in our classroom, I would keep the lights off and the windows open. My students told me it felt relaxing in our classroom.
My number one tip for calming students during a party is giving them a job ahead of time. So think of it like a restaurant (pre-2020). The moment you walk inside, a hostess greets you with a smile and seats you.
The server comes to your table to take your order. The server has three or four tables in their section and tends to them as well. They then deliver your food order to the cook and deliver your drink order to the bartender.
The cook and bartender create your order to the best of their ability. Then the server collects your order and delivers it to your table. Meanwhile, the restaurant manager walks about ensuring the customers are happy.
For your class party, you might want to consider jobs like having a “Face” at your door. This should be a student who is not afraid to talk to people.
Also, consider having a “Helping Hand.” For students whose parents are unable to attend, I’ll give them the job of being the helping hands. They love it because they feel special and they feel needed to serve the other families.
I also have a “Heart.” Basically, they stay with me and make sure that the table area is clean. This is helpful for shy students who don’t have family attending. That way, they can stay with me, and I can feel their vibe.
Finally, I have “Eyes.” This job is beneficial for outgoing students. They walk around to interact with other students and families to make sure they are happy.
These are my tips for having a calm classroom party. I’d love to know if you have tips as well. Please share them in the comments below.