It's that time of year, when classrooms or entire school communities come together to celebrate the accomplishments of the year. You may be invited to visit your child's school for a shared performance or classroom tour, for a gallery walk of the children's artwork or a campus-wide celebration. You might be excited to see your child's class in action or to spend some time with other families.
Remember, though, that these are days that, while exciting and festive, can be confusing and unsettling for children, especially for the very young ones. Set reasonable expectations to make the most of these memorable days.
First, be sure your child has as calm and peaceful a morning as possible before they arrive to school. Know that much of what they're used to at school, including their daily schedule or the design of their classroom, may be different today. Help to keep their resilience to that higher by sending them to school well-rested, well-fed and feeling safe and loved.
Then, set your comfort level to "It's All Good," no matter what happens during the event. Your child brilliantly dictates one of Montessori's essays from heart? It's all good. Your child refuses to sing with their class? It's all good. Your child offers a gracious tour of the classroom? It's all good. Your child wanders away from their group to sit on your lap? It's all good. Your child cries unceasingly when it's their turn to speak? It's all good. While your inner parenting judge may be worried that every other parent is quietly tsking at your child, there's really no link there. We can't expect predictable behavior on unpredictable days.
Again: We can't expect predictable behavior on unpredictable days.
However the day goes, don't convince yourself that it's representative of how most days go. Instead, remind yourself that all celebration days - even in adulthood- come with all sorts of new emotions and stressors. Even when we're happy and at ease and truly enjoying the day- even in adulthood- holidays are hard. These are opportunities to come together as a community to celebrate the community, not to clap politely at polished, perfect performances. Communities, if they're authentic, are messy. They're unpredictable sometimes. They're joyful when things go well and they're forgiving when they don't. The hour or two of the special event is a small piece of the much more important tapestry of experiences your child has grown through this year. Whatever happens, embrace the mess, joyfully.