The Death of the Preschool Birthday Cake – have we gone too far?
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A Birthday Cake: an essential element to any birthday celebration, an integral prop when it comes to singing Happy Birthday, right? That is except if your child goes to preschool or long day care. More and more early childhood environments have made the decision to no longer allow birthday cakes including cupcakes or ice-cream cakes to be part of the celebration at the centre.
Not too many years ago, centres were more than happy for parents to bring a cake in for their child’s birthday. Then it became, please only bring cupcakes rather than cakes as they are easier to serve and minimise the spreading of germs. It seems staff could no longer turn a blind eye to the uncoordinated blowing out of candles resulting in a cake covered with spit. Soon after that it became, if your child has an allergy can you bring an alternative in they can be given when there is cake. And now, it’s please put your patty pans and mixing bowls away, we don’t do birthday cakes.
But have we gone too far? Some say we are overreacting with allergies and have had a knee jerk reaction here, with this of course coming from anyone but the parents of kids with food allergies. One argument from educators is it’s a healthy eating issue and conflicts with what they are constantly trying to teach the children about staying healthy.
While many can appreciate the allergy aspect and keeping children safe, many would like to think that this was looked at each year. That if there were no children with food allergies in the centre that it would be lifted rather than staying as a permanent blanket policy. Is this the answer or does it resemble swiss cheese?
Since the no birthday cake has become widespread, I have seen many cake substitutes, and it was recently over dinner with two of my Early Childhood Teacher buddies Carla and Michelle, that we came up with an astonishing array of substitutes that have now taken the place of the banished birthday cake and cementing the death of the preschool birthday cake.
Now when we sing Happy Birthday, we have new props to sing to:
- The wooden cake from the homecorner
- The birthday certificate
- The cake made with love from the sandpit
- The birthday hat, crown or tiara
- The playdough cake
- The Duplo cake
- The invisible cake
- The BIG candle
Is this creative thinking during a time when more and more children have allergies? Or are these alternatives a sad and sorry excuse for the once proud birthday cake prominently displayed in front of a beaming birthday girl or boy? You decide. What I am sure of however is that the disappearance of the birthday cake will soon be making an appearance at a primary school near you.