No Candy On Valentine’s Day?!

    My hubby, reading to my daughter's class last year

    Bear with me today, I’m going to take a detour from our regularly scheduled programming, because this struck a nerve. Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I received the following email from our daughters’ elementary school:

    In keeping with current practices designed to protect the health and safety of all children, elementary students in Loudoun County Public Schools are not permitted to distribute candy or other food items to classmates.  As Valentine’s Day approaches, it is important for parents to understand that candy brought to school by students, including candy attached to Valentine’s Day cards, will be returned to the parent.

    Perhaps it was this way last year, too, but I don’t recall getting a strongly worded notice before the holiday. My reaction was “are you kidding me?!” followed with wondering if there was anything I could do to change this. Or at least make my voice heard.

    Trust me, I understand that the intent behind this is to protect the students that have food allergies…but as parents we are informed at the beginning of the year if our child is in a classroom with a student that needs to be protected. In our tight knit community, I’m sure we could handle sending in appropriate treats that wouldn’t be a danger. (We manage to make it through lunch every day without incident.)

    The candy at Valentine’s day issue is not the whole problem, unfortunately. We can’t send in treats for our child’s birthday. We can’t have a Christmas party, it’s a holiday party. The Halloween parade in the school is now a ‘spirit parade’ with themed costumes… (I think my middle schoolers dressed up as “math nerds”?) Most disturbing to me is that the time honored tradition of Field Day now awards ‘participation ribbons’. There is no first, second, or third place. On American Education Week, we are ‘strongly encouraged’ to show up at pre-assigned times for scheduled performances…just dropping in to observe our child’s classroom in action would be too disruptive, and is discouraged.

    I don’t think that school administrators or school boards have malicious intent, but they have stripped so much of the fun of childhood out of the elementary school experience. I can promise you that my life wasn’t ruined, nor did I need therapy, when I didn’t win first prize in the water balloon toss. I sure as hell remember getting first place in the three -legged race, though, and those ribbons are in my scrapbook. And I remember my class parties from elementary school…we all knew what it meant if a boy gave you a small box of chocolates instead of a lollipop with your card! (The teasing was good natured, I assure you!)

    Each of these smaller policies are not such a big deal when taken individually, but add them all together and we’ve chipped away at the experience that helps shape these little people into who they will become as adults. At what point do we stand up and say, enough already?




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    11 Responses to “No Candy On Valentine’s Day?!”

      • Greta Kreuz

        Written on

        I am a reporter for Ch. 7 here, ABC7, interested in doing this Valentine’s Day candy story today (Thurs)…need parents to talk to. Can you call me on cell ASAP @ 202-437-6919? Thanks,
        Greta Kreuz

    • Melissa Case

      Written on

      Amen, sister. I’m happy to say that my kids’ school does none of these things (yet) and they get to do all of the things I remember (with great affection) from my own childhood. I appreciate that the administrators are well-intentioned, but political correctness has eroded the fun out of school. These are KIDS. Allow them to be that.

    • Paulo Elias via Facebook

      Written on

      I haven’t read the article but, looking back, I feel bad for any teacher who had to put up a classroom full of kids hopped up on sugar 😉

    • Shea Parker Cordell via Facebook

      Written on

      The non-competitive nature of Field Day bugs me. It’s presented in a way that “everyone’s a winner”. Unfortunately, that doesn’t prepare them very well for life in the real world. If kids want to “win” that slot into their favorite college or that great job, they have to work hard to get it.

    • Fiona Hughes

      Written on

      Awesome post – the world has gone mad! We are afraid to praise, afraid to correct, afraid to discipline, afraid to share opinions, afraid to celebrate, afraid for our children to get dirty, and on and on and on…. Are we really that quick to take offense that someone’s opinions will not be the same as our own…that one child might have a talent that another doesn’t share….that our childrens’ self confidence will be destroyed by emphasizing good manners and respect…. So very sad and thank you for making this point!

    • Heather Elias via Facebook

      Written on

      I just spoke with LCPS’ public information officer, who clarified that this is not a LCPS ‘policy’ but a ‘practice’ to minimize risk of a child that could have an allergic reaction like what happened in Chesterfield County recently. This a practice in the elementary schools, agreed to by the principals of the schools, and if we have an issue with it we are to take it up with the elementary education coordinator with the school system.

    • John Stevens

      Written on

      Okay, I’ll play the Devil’s Advocate. What is the connection between Valentine’s candy and field day ribbons, except to say that things are different now than they used to be? Is change always bad? Is someone harmed by not sending candy? Are kids not able to enjoy a sticker? Can friends not give each other candy outside of school?

      This goes beyond food allergies to other issues of diet, safety and cleanliness in the classroom. The fact that my child is in a classroom with other children doesn’t give me the right to feed those other children whatever I want to. Your point that a small community should be able to find some agreeable guidelines is very good, except that we see in many cases that people blow right past this into “if you don’t like it, leave” which is not an acceptable approach, particularly when it comes to children. If people were less dismissive of others, this would be easier to achieve. For example, despite the previous commenter’s assurance that the teachers have this all under control, a little girl in Richmond died last month of an allergic reaction in school.

      I can promise you that my life wasn’t ruined, nor did I need therapy, when I didn’t win first prize in the water balloon toss.

      Similarly, I can promise you that your child’s life won’t be ruined, nor will she need therapy, if she gives or receives stickers instead of candy hearts at Valentine’s Day.

    • Stan

      Written on

      I assure you that you would feel differently regarding food in the classroom if your child has a food allergy that could kill him/her in minutes such as a severe nut allergy. My child’s teacher has sent notes to all parents in his class room telling them not to send food/candy with nuts but it continues. Society will judge over time what is more important — depriving all children of cupcakes at school on Valentines day or a child here and there dying in anaphylactic shock.

      • admin

        Written on

        Just clarifying that the candy issue is part of a larger issue of school policy. My youngest is in a ‘peanut free’ classroom and actually has a milder peanut allergy of her own. I am certainly not making light of the issue of food allergies. There should be a way to provide a safe environment for ALL kids, those with and without allergies, to enjoy Valentines Day. And also enjoy Field Day. And their birthday….while respecting long standing traditions, even if there are some compromises to make it work. That’s my larger point.

    • Kristen

      Written on

      I was in elementary school around 10 or so years before things started getting this crazy. We had candy and stuff for valentines day, but you had to give everyone the same thing unless one of the kids had an allergy, then they got something different (unless your item was already nut free) or their parents gave them a treat to bring to school depending on how serious their allergy was.

      I think these days though allergies are not the only concern, more and more kids have childhood obesity, and there are also parents that, for example, only eat organic or vegetarian food, or avoid all processed foods and want their kids to do the same. They don’t want the school or other parents feeding their kids extra sugar or red #40 at all.

      I think they could do better though, for example on a kids birthday they could get a homework pass to skip one h.w assignment, or they could choose a short game for the class to play or something like that.

      Parents should also be encouraged to pack a treat for their own kid on their birthday with their lunch, it was always kinda weird that you gave other people treats on your special day anyways. Yeah it’s fun to share with friends but food isn’t the only way to do that. And of course if the parents really want their kids to have a fun birthday they’ll typically have a party for them and a few of their friends anyways at the bowling alley or wherever, not to mention a birthday cake and presents at home.

      We didn’t have any awards at our field day or even a ribbon, it was just a day where we played outside instead of having class, but I don’t think there was any competition involved (no one was keeping score). We couldn’t choose what we wanted to do though and instead were moved from one game/activity to another and I remember it feeling quite rushed, playing freeze tag in gym class or normal recess was much more fun.


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