His kid’s fourth-grade teacher banned birthday cupcakes, writes Eric Zorn on his Chicago Trib blog.

She’d done the math. Naturally. And she figured that if every child had a little birthday party — where a parent brings in treats, drinks, maybe goodie bags — she’d lose roughly 10 hours of total classroom instruction time over the course of the year.

He approves. Commenters go wild. Many agree with Omnibus Driver that schools are sucking the fun out of childhood.

I grew up in the days when nobody’s birthday was celebrated at school, but my daughter was educated in the cupcake era. They were consumed at lunch time so there was no loss of class time. I don’t think moms made a big fuss about it either, but maybe I’m just remembering that I didn’t make a big fuss.

About Joanne


  1. I only remember birthdays being celebrated in kindergarten. (Of course that might also be because that was the year my mom was monumentally pregnant with my brother, and the kids made a big deal of that when she came with the cupcakes).

    But – yeah, in the younger grades, don’t suck the fun out of childhood. And don’t nanny-state the “OMG our kids are too fat!” and require parents to bring carrot sticks or celery to “celebrate” birthdays.

    Then again, if it becomes a “I spent more money/time than you did – which means I love my kid more” competition, then drop it. I don’t like the alpha mom thing.

    But in the older grades – I can see dropping the celebration. (If nothing else, it prepares kids for adulthood, where no one really cares about your life outside work).

  2. We did treats for birthdays up until 3rd grade or so… and the treats were handed out during snack time or lunch, so no time was lost.
    There wasn’t punch/soda or anythign else to make it a more significant occassion, just the solitary treat.
    As my younger sisters went through school, the school began offering cupcakes and other treats made by the cafeteria for birthdays. This made the process even more streamlined, as the treats would be given out in the lunchroom itself and the teacher wouldn’t have to do anything. Plus, the cafeteria made a couple bucks on each order.