Sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Week of the Young Child was launched in 1971. Because the early years, from birth to about eight years of age, provide the foundation for a child’s educational achievement, the NAEYC encourages community, state and federal planning to better serve the needs of young children. Week of the Young Child activities for preschoolers can involve families and the community to celebrate the child.
Plan a series of special days, and combine these events with charitable acts for disadvantaged children. Establish a Pajama day, during which children come to school in their favorite pajamas. Ask them to bring old, clean pajamas they no longer want or need and work together as a class to donate them to an organization that distributes clothes to needy children. Other ideas for dress-up days include a day to wear crazy socks or hats made at home. Invite the children to participate in a Celebrate Toys or Celebrate Stuffed Animals day. Have them bring their favorite toy or stuffed animal to do a show-and-tell. You can also ask them to bring old, clean toys that also can be donated to charity.
Hold a Parents as Teachers event where parents are invited to speak to the class about their professions. Select parents who earn their livings as community helpers, such as doctors, policemen, firemen, paramedics and postal workers. Have parents bring in relevant equipment to demonstrate what they do in their careers. For example, a doctor can bring in a stethoscope and show the children how to listen to their own heartbeats. Ask a scientist to perform an experiment. Encourage parents who are entertainers to put on a show for the children or to demonstrate performance skills, such as singing, dancing or playing an instrument.
Use a digital camera to capture the faces of the children at play. Laminate their faces, and cut them into puzzle pieces. Mix the pieces in a grab bag. Have the children help each other piece their faces back together. You could also expand on this idea by asking parents to send in photographs of families in the midst of happy activities. Laminate and scatter the photographs on a long table, and instruct the children to sort through the photos and arrange them into family collages.
Artistic activities can celebrate children by encouraging their creativity and self-expression. Divide the children into small groups. Hand each group a poster board and various art supplies, including paint, pastels and crayons. Ask each group to paint a classroom activity, such as a science experiment, a schoolyard game, a math exercise or story time, that relate to the Week of the Young Child theme. Assemble the posters into a mural and display it in your school’s foyer.