My thoughts on Pre-school and Kindergarten may not like them

Should We Really be Celebrating Pre-school and Kindergarten Graduation?

My personal news feed on Facebook has been blowing up with pre-school and Kindergarten graduation pictures and it's been driving me nuts!

Mostly because I don't see the point.
Seriously, were you worried that your child wasn't going to pass?

I just saw a friend post this very comment beside a graduation picture of her admittedly very cute four year old son  "Well done buddy!!" followed by comments from family members saying "we are so proud of you" and "way to go!".

It hasn't been that long since my kids went to pre-school.
All three of them attended various pre-schools for at least two years each.
Not one of them had a pre-school graduation.
Maybe that makes me bitter?

Or maybe it makes me relieved.
I didn't have to buy overpriced professional portraits of my kids dressed in cap and gown,
bring balloons and flowers as congratulatory gifts or have a special dinner because by golly my kid graduated from a school where the only requirement is that their parents pay a monthly tuition to send them and that they show up.

Wait, they don't actually even have to do that!
Pre-school and Kindergarten are not required.

It was hard to find
{because there is no such thing!} 
as a statistic for a kid who didn't walk with their peers for Kindergarten or pre-school graduation.
There are no flunkies.
So what are we doing it for?
Don't get me wrong, as a parent, I have celebrated plenty of my children's milestones.
However, I don't think that every milestone in a child's life requires pomp and circumstance.
If we stop to celebrate every small detail of a child's existence, does the line get blurry between those things that really are important and should be celebrated?

Graduation should be special.
It should be a moment in time that is celebrated.
Once, twice even, and if you are super crazy smart {or just crazy!} maybe three times.
These times should document a completion of hard work, effort and a new chapter in your life.
Not just a blip in time where you are expected to just move on.
Kids are expected to move on to Kindergarten or to first grade.
Must we stop and treat this expectation like it's some major achievement?


Anonymous said...

I agree 100%. We didn't have preschool and kindergarten graduation when I was little. I think it's fun to celebrate milestones, but a lot is overdone in this day and age.

Kathleen said...

I agree! It seems like it started out as a cute little ceremony for kids to create their own construction paper hats and have a good-bye party, but parents and schools have turned it into an over the top event. It's a bit much.

Karen Brown said...

I think kindergarten graduation kind of goes in the same category as entitlement and every-kid-gets-a-trophy at the end of the soccer season...every year. That said, my son's kindergarten was super cute, and mostly their end of the year awards. The school had the caps & gowns, so we didn't weren't asked to buy anything.

Trish said...

I couldn't agree more. I think celebrating milestones is great, and I don't necessarily think it's wrong to celebrate them moving on to the next thing. But a full-blown graduation? It's too much. Plus I think it creates kids who think they deserve a party just for existing. Pretty sure they're all in for a rude awakening later!

NaDell said...

So very happy to have avoided this whole thing so far. Our school doesn't do a kindergarten graduation (just a little ladybug party) and the fifth graders have an awards ceremony that isn't even super official since it's just during the first part of the day on the last day of school.

Here's something cool that our principal started for the fifth graders though: The whole school lines up in the main hallway and each fifth grader gets to run down the hall while everyone claps them out. I think it's fun and awesome and free. =) Way better for kids than some ceremony.

Craftcherry said...

We didn't have a preschool graduation...which was fine by me.
HOWEVER, my husband had a kindergarten graduation and the pictures looked super cute on his college graduation cake. ;o)

Unknown said...

How cool is the clap out idea for the 5th graders that NaDell suggested? I love that!

Starr said...

Thank goodness the schools where our kids have been enrolled have never done such a thing. It's state law where I live that all 6 year olds enroll in 1st grade, so it's hardly an achievement to be promoted!

Courtney R. said...

Perhaps a little bitter. My son had a pre-school graduation, but we didn't have to buy anything extra. I didn't really think it was necessary - but the kids had fun. His Kindergarten graduation from private school is this Friday - again - NO extra money. He doesn't have a graduation ceremony for his public graduation. In the two states I have lived, Kindergarten is a requirement. I think Kindergarten is a fun graduation - a sense of accomplishment for integrating into the world of scholars, facing these new changes in their young lives and succeeding and getting them excited for the even bigger and better things to come. I'm 36 and we had a Kindergarten graduation when I was a child.

Carrie Penny said...

I went to a Preschool with report cards and we didn't have a graduation. I got report cards in K-12. I see no point to it beyond throwing the kids an end of year party (which we had every year until 9th grade) and letting them go hog wild.

I look at my friends who have kids going through these ceremonies and bringing family from across the country to see a kid move from K-4 to K-5... Why?! It isn't really even a landmark occassion, maybe if you were going from grade school to middle... middle to HS I can see having a small ceremony with parents, but even still not having the kid's 4th cousin twice removed on his mother's side there.

One of my friend's son's, just for the record, graduation costs were 250$. It would have cost more had they bought the picture package. That is cap, gown, party fees (parents can't bring in food at their school because of food allergies), picture sitting and the tickets for the parents to attend.

Tamara said...

Rachel, I agree with your post 100%! I DO love NaDell's clapping idea for the 5th graders. Clapping the kids out of elementary school and encouraging them as they journey into "the unknown" of Jr. High would leave a lasting impression.

Ann Blackwell said...

I am in total agreement withyou. My daughter had a fancy grad from middle school (in the US _ 8th grade). Then from high school. Then from college. Then her Master's degree. June 1, she graduated from Law School. I am so very proud of her. These are accomplishments - well, not 8 th grade, really. But come on - pre-school? Kindergarten? Totally rediculous.

Betsy Hunter said...

I totally agree. And, not that I think if it, I don't see many college graduation pics on Facebook. That's one to celebrate too. I'm certainly tired of the whole 5th grade graduation pics too.

Unknown said...

We do a clap out for 5th grade as well. For preK it was basically free and super cute and more of an end of year party. Most kids were not going to the same school so we loved that chance to say good bye. They did walk across a bridge at the forest preserve and all the parents brought a dish to pass. I get what you mean, but I like celebrating and it doesn't have to be over the top at all. Thank God it wasn't x4. Even for my oldest milestones were just poignant knowing how far we had come, same with my 4, maybe that's just another perspective.
Absolutely though not necessary to be anything more than a sweet nod to moving forward.

Anonymous said...

As a former preschool and kindergarten teacher, I would like to challenge your thinking. Graduations or promotions fulfill two roles: a celebration of accomplishment and a marking of a specific time where you are moving into a new phase in life. Yes, the pictures from a Kinder grad are cute for the memory books but it is so much more. These 5 year old students have accomplished the same level of achievement that there high school and college counterparts have based on their developmental level and goals. Kindergarten is not about academic progress (while still important), it is a time for social emotional growth. For most children Kindergarten is a struggle (albeit not one to cause concern). However, many parents do not see the day to day struggle that they go through, but please don't think that they don't struggle. The amount of growth they go through is unlike any other year in education because they have never been in this type of situation before. This is what teachers (and hopefully parents) are celebrating. I could not be more proud of this age group. Second, just like all graduations it is the marking of a change in life status. High school graduation used to exist to mark the entrance to the working world (now college grad takes the place of that). Kindergarten grad marks the entrance into academia. These outward celebrations are important for children's understanding of life. Will they accept this transition without it, yes. Will they understand it though, depends. If the reason for celebrating were up to parents and adults who are not familiar with child development in conjunction with the day to day of challenges the classroom presents and child's growth then it probably would not exist because to us it seems simply like a over glorified party. Teachers should reserve the right to celebrate the astounding progress they have made, they only get to do it once. This year of social emotional growth is even more important when you are looking at factors such as poverty, urbanism, homelessness, minority, ELL, migrant or any child who comes from an adverse family situations. Children from harsher backgrounds need the school support in understanding life so that they will be able to understand their role. I will say that when I was a teacher grad did not cost anything to my parents or families. I re-used the gowns each year, photography was donated and food was an optional potluck. It was an an opportunity for children to understand transition; learn to speak, listen, and perform; further build a healthy home school connection; demonstrate to children the purpose of school for the first time and set the goal; and teach them to reflect.

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