I was a homeroom mom every year from the time my oldest was a kindergartener until my fourth child was a fifth grader (that's 13 years straight) and I LOVED doing it. My favorite part was, without question, planning and running the classroom parties. It was generally accepted at the school my kids attended that homeroom parents "ran" the whole party and that siblings could come to the parties if their parents came to the party. On more than one occassion I was driven crazy when younger siblings "ruined" the party for the older sibling or sometimes the whole class.
Here are a few problems that arise when younger siblings attend an older child's class party:
1. The party planners have not purchased enough craft supplies for extra children to make the planned craft. The result is crying siblings because they can't do the project or upset older siblings because Mom makes them share the project with the younger sibling or sometimes not enough materials for the children in the class because younger children are doing the craft.
2. These same problems are even more in evidence with regard to food. It is really hard (and unfair) to not share the party food with younger siblings who are present but its difficult to plan for an unknown number of younger siblings. Once again, older siblings share their goodies or the whole class shares which is a problem if there are only 20 cupcakes and 30 kids (including siblings).
3. Games are are also interrupted or altered so the youngsters can join in. A game that is appropriate for a 9 year old will probably not work for a 4 year old and yet I have often seen parents insist on letting the little one "have a turn."
4. One of the biggest problems is that parents who are helping to run the party need to attend to the young child instead of running a game, distributing snacks or supervising a craft.
5. Far worse than number 4 is the situation where parents who are helping to run the party (or are just present and catching up with friends) are NOT attending to the younger child and that child is putting his snotty fingers in every cupcake or knocking over the bowl of glitter or tearing a class book or…you get the idea.
I know that many teachers don't want to discourage family participation and many parents don't have daytime babysitters available. I guess I would just ask parents to be very aware of the issues that arise when younger siblings attend a party and focus on what is best for the older child when they choose whether to bring a little one along (and if they have to include the little ones - watch them!).
What are your thoughts about younger siblings at class parties?