Does the kindergarten teacher come to the birthday party?
September 8, 2011 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Is it appropriate to ask your child's kindergarten teacher to his birthday party?

My son is turning 6. He will be having a birthday party at Pump It Up. (Pump It Up is an "inflatable party zone" -- if you already knew this, you definitely have the right knowledge base to answer this question) and we're inviting his kindergarten class. Do we invite his teacher too? Would she want to come? Or would she not want to come and feel obligated to come? (If it matters, we are specifying "no presents" for everyone.) His teacher has a preschooler of her own (who would also be invited.) Answers from teachers are especially welcome here.
posted by escabeche to Human Relations (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My mom teaches fourth grade. She has been invited to birthday parties (of her students) before. To the best of my memory, she hasn't attended any of them.

Does your son want to invite her? Because that's really cute, and if it's his idea, it's totally fine for him to send her an invitation. You should write a little note on there like, "Ms. Smith, you don't have to come, but we just thought it was so sweet that Logan wanted to invite you. Of course, [preschooler] is invited as well." Because you really don't want her to feel obligated to come. (The kids will be treating her like a teacher, and she'll effectively have to work on her day off, no matter how relaxing you try to make it for her.)

If this is your idea (and not 100% your son's), do not invite her.

Long story short: she probably doesn't want to come, but would enjoy knowing that your kid wanted to invite her.
posted by phunniemee at 8:20 PM on September 8, 2011 [11 favorites]

When my grandmother was a teacher, it was explicitly against school policy for a teacher to attend off-site birthday parties. Give a call to your school's main office... they'll tell you if that's the policy at your school.
posted by juniperesque at 8:20 PM on September 8, 2011

It isn't appropriate. It's her own time, and like phunniemee says, she'll be working if she's there. If you want her to know how much you/your son appreciate what a great teacher she is, write a nice note to her telling her how much he enjoys her class.
posted by kate blank at 8:25 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

My 1st grade teacher came to my birthday party and gave me an abridged Tom Sawyer; I loved her for it. This was not in the mainland United States, though. I also taught kindergarten for a year and would happily have gone to a kid's birthday party; this was in another country though, and I am not everyone.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:26 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

She won't come unless it's as the preschooler's parent. Your son's birthday party falls at the beginning of the year. If she attends the party, she's setting a horrible precedent whereby she must be invited--and attend--every single birthday party all year long. Phunniemee's approach FTW.
posted by carmicha at 8:29 PM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]

The question is if it's appropriate for her to attend, not for you to ask. She's a grownup who is aware of policy on the matter.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:43 PM on September 8, 2011

We adored my son's kindergarten teacher and we invited her over to a small party we had at our house during the summer after my son finished kinder. So, we got to fete her a bit but there was no conflict.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:48 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm not a parent, but I am close friends with several kindergarten and primary school teachers. Keep in mind that teaching your son is her job - as much as she may enjoy it, it is still work for her, and she probably values her time off of work as much as anyone else. Attending her student's party will be work for her - especially because the kids will treat her like the teacher, and she will feel obligated to take on that role.

Feel free to invite her, but make it clear that your son wanted to invite her (if this is the case) and that you absolutely understand that she may not want to come.
posted by Kololo at 8:53 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

We invited my son's private school kindergarten teacher to the party at a chain mexican restaurant at my son's request. We were having a small kids party and had a table for the adults including a few pitchers of marg's and food. It was clear that the adults and kids would have side by side but separate events. Miss Tina came by for about 15 minutes to say hello to the kids (and have a marg with her boyfriend and the parents!).

But, having read the previous posters, we did not, but I would now make it clear that it is an option not an obligation and that she is a guest not the entertainment or a worker. Definitely invite her SO/partner/husband and child.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:54 PM on September 8, 2011

It is always okay to invite. However:

- School policy may forbid her to go
- She may be busy
- She may really really like your child but not want to attend the party anyway

This means you should not suggest to your child that they will be there. Either make it a nice surprise, or say she might not be able to come. You don't want to set an expectation you can't fulfill, involving such an important figure in your child's life.

My two kids had two different kindergarten teachers last year; one showed up to all the birthday parties (after saying she might) and one didn't show (after saying she would.) Your mileage may vary.

The most important question, though, is this: do you have a strong, active relationship with this teacher already? If not, focus on that instead of worrying about a party invite, and if you do, you probably already know whether or not she wants to be invited.

Oh, and even if she says no, but goes to some other classmates' party, don't take it personally and don't let it cause a rift between you. You are first and foremost partners in your child's education, not party buddies.
posted by davejay at 9:12 PM on September 8, 2011

My son is seven, and starting his fourth year of school. I have been to approximately eleventy frillion kids' birthday parties in the past few years. I have never, ever, ever seen a teacher at one of them.

I think a kindergarten teacher's idea of a good time probably has something to do with a full glass of wine and a dark, quiet room utterly devoid of children.

However, if you're bringing in birthday cupcakes or cookies for the class, DO bring an additional one for the teacher. They appreciate this. They also appreciate grownup-appropriate Halloween candy, Valentine's cards, etc. Oh, and cash at any time. Decorating a classroom ain't cheap.
posted by BlueJae at 9:23 PM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

If not, then my mom was very inappropriate when she invited mine to my party 30+years ago. It's neat to see her in the old pictures.
posted by thorny at 9:26 PM on September 8, 2011

Is it appropriate to ask?


It's appropriate for the teacher to decline or accept as he/she sees fit.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:42 PM on September 8, 2011

If your son came up with the idea, it'd be cute for him to invite her, but you should prepare him to understand that Pump it Up is for little kids and that she probably "can't" come for that reason. And make sure she understands it was his idea and that she should not feel obligated to come.

Honestly it seems like kind of a strange idea (adorable for a child to have come up with, but kind of odd otherwise.) If the party were at your home, maybe, but Pump it Up is for little kids to run around and bounce and scream - fun for 6 year olds, but kind of excruciating for adults.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:03 PM on September 8, 2011

If she falls on the Ask side of the Ask/Guess divide, then you're 100% ok in asking, because she'll just say no if that's her answer. If she's on the Guess side, you can hedge a bit by clarifying in the invite that she doesn't have to come but your kid wanted to invite her or you thought it might be nice so she can come if she wants but doesn't have to.
posted by Aizkolari at 5:28 AM on September 9, 2011

My teacher friends HATE being invited to birthday parties. Some will go out of politeness but feel put upon. Sure, they'll laugh and act like they're having a good time and might not find it awful but most will leave as soon as it's socially acceptable. Some say no and that they have other plans. No matter how great/sweet your kid is, his great/wonderful teacher spends 40 hours a week with a room full of kids. Don't ask her to spend her weekend with another batch. She's a teacher, treat her as a professional. She's not a part of your child's social circle just because he/she likes her and sees her everyday.
posted by shoesietart at 6:22 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

As a former kindergarten teacher, personally, I would never accept an invitation like that for two reasons.

1. I really, really valued my off-time, even though I spent a lot of it doing extra work for school.
I think a kindergarten teacher's idea of a good time probably has something to do with a full glass of wine and a dark, quiet room utterly devoid of children.
Yep, that was me.

2. If you come to one child's birthday, then is the next parent obligated to invite you, and the next one, and so forth. Or would it be seen as favoritism in the classroom. "Miss pouraaaa-aaaant, you came to Jimmy's birthday party, but not miiiii-iiiiine!" etc.
posted by pourtant at 6:23 AM on September 9, 2011

Yeah, when I was teaching, I'd have totally loved to show up to students' birthday parties, but I did not -- not because I was protective of my free time, but because it could be perceived as favoritism if I could not make it to the another student birthday party for some reason. There's a lot of diplomacy involved in teaching, and parents can be very touchy about issues like this.

By all means, invite the teacher, with a little note per JohnnyGun's suggestion -- or just have your child write (or co-author) a heartfelt note of appreciation to the teacher -- but don't be surprised or offended if the teacher doesn't attend.
posted by Spinneret at 6:53 AM on September 9, 2011

Thanks, all. Invitations have gone out, teacher not included.
posted by escabeche at 9:40 AM on September 11, 2011

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