Our September 16 Luau was a huge success. From the colored snow cones to the large bounce house and bean bag games, there was something for everyone to do. Our parent volunteers put in considerable time and effort, and it reflected in the quality of our party.
In reflection of this event, I asked myself if these kinds of parties are worth the effort and costs involved. Isn’t a quality education in a healthy environment enough? Is it necessary to spend tuition dollars on a party, when perhaps those dollars could be better spent on classroom supplies? School-wide events such as this are most certainly beneficial to the school in a number of ways.
School-wide events enhance student learning: Apart from learning the ABCs, children thrive in an environment where they belong to a part of a community, and when parents are actively involved within that community. According to MichiganStateUniversity, parents’ active involvement with their child’s education has a direct positive relationship to their academic success. In fact, the earlier that parents become involved, the greater the level of a child’s achievement throughout their academic career. (http://www.livestrong.com/article/534725-the-importance-of-parental-involvement-in-childrens-school-life/#ixzz1YiWgaYbB) . This involvement extends beyond helping with homework and connecting with teachers. Attending school events, meeting other families, and participating in functions demonstrates to children that learning extends beyond the classroom, and that the school is an extension of who we are, not just a place we visit.
School-wide events benefit parents: The importance of social connections extends to more than just children. Studies suggest that the transient nature of today’s communities creates a sense of loneliness and isolation in adults. How many parents in our preschool have been transplanted to our school from other cities, states, and even countries? In an article titled “Expatriate Family Syndrome”, American psychotherapist Cathy Tsang-Feign discusses “transient family syndrome” where she notes that families who frequently move intentionally isolate themselves and prevent themselves from forming tight relationships. In doing so, this puts tremendous pressure on families to fulfill one another’s social and emotional needs, (http://www.cathyfeign.com/documents/tsangfeign-expatfamily.pdf), resulting in more stress and loneliness. Conducting social activities outside of regular school times, in an environment that extends outside of the classroom, provides parents with an opportunity to meet other adults with similar interests and values. This decreases that feeling of loneliness and isolation.
School-wide events may increase teacher job satisfaction: Raise your hand of you want to work on a Friday night! What – no takers? Why ask employees to stay late on a weekend? While it may not be a good idea to force employees to give up a weekend night, consider this: employees who see each other outside socially outside of the typical work day establish stronger personal work relationships. In a study done by Findley and Harmer on work relationships and job satisfaction, the results indicate that one’s relationships with co-workers and direct supervisor are a significant factor determining positive job satisfaction for young employees (http://www.richardharmer.com/articles/Jobsatisfactionandworkplacerelationships.pdf). Have you ever noticed how the employee you sit next to every day suddenly looks completely different to you when they put on a pair of jeans? Establishing a personal relationship outside of our professional day-to-day relationships provides us with someone we can vent to and share our daily experiences with. It also makes lunch breaks more interesting!
School-wide events benefit the business: When planned appropriately, costs associated with throwing these parties are easily offset by the effects of positive parent referrals. While it’s necessary to be selective with expenditures, happy families translate into growing and thriving schools. Parent feedback and referrals are often why families choose a school for their children. Even if a successful event leads to no new enrollments, longer length of stay can be easily anticipated when student learning is enhanced, parents have greater bonds with other families within the school, and teachers are more invested in their jobs. Parents who volunteer at their children’s schools are more committed to their education and progress, thus improving the overall quality of the education provided.
School-wide events are fun: Our DJ/Clown/Spokesperson kept us laughing as he engaged the children in his latest rendition of the Wiggles song “Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy”. And who can forget how he got the children to make announcements on the dance floor? And after an hour of jumping around in the bounce house, tossing bean bags, and playing with their friends, the kids went home exhausted. A healthy, positive, way to end a Friday night!