It’s Graduation Time

**Deep Breath** … Ahh… the springtime allergens have hit the wind. The grass is greening and the home improvement projects that lay dormant for the winter call our names. Yes, friends. It is spring, and graduation season is in full bloom. Facebook has been bursting at the seams with pictures of graduating high schoolers, undergrads, and … … … kindergartners?

One question: when did Kindergarten graduation become a United States educational standard? Is it really a productive use of our time to celebrate our child’s ability to attend school for HALF a day, five days a week, nine months of the year (yeah, I know it’s a full day in some parts of the country) to finger paint, learn letters and numbers, and to use the special potty for the little kids? I mean, come on… Kindergartners get their own recess, their own special tiny desks, and they don’t actually have to learn anything that isn’t in a song or story.

So what great accomplishment have they achieved that the world around them is pausing for?

I graduated TWICE in my life. Once when I was done with 12 (TWELVE!!!) years of primary and secondary education. TWELVE (thirteen counting my year of Kindergarten) years, I waited to don a cheap cardboard mortar board and polyester robe that even Judge Judy wouldn’t be caught dead in. The second time I graduated was FOUR years later, after an even more focused, difficult and gut wrenching gauntlet of collegiate courses (none of which I got up before 10am to attend). At least the robe was a little nicer for that one. I think there was a scoche of actual cotton in it. (Imagine the malaysian children who sew these hideous looking gowns – I wonder if they have any clue what the idiot first worlders use them for!)

Now, I understand and recognize that if we recognize a child’s early accomplishments, they will want to repeat that behavior later in life. Giving the child a taste of what “graduating” feels like at age 5 may actually have a slight impact on their desire to graduate again when they are 18. (doubt it – name one thing you cared about at 5 that you still cared about at 18… I rest my case)

I also realize, after watching my mom cry in every single one of our graduations, that graduation is more for the parents than the kids as well… but I’m not going too far there or I’ll really be eating crow when I’m in a corner sobbing at my son’s Kindergarten commencement.

I’m just suggesting we put away our mortar boards and get back out our Bernstein Bears books – but this time, make the children memorize them, translate them into Latin, and then re-illustrate them just as a thought exercise. Then, maybe with that kind of accomplishment, i’ll approve some kind of commendation ceremony… maybe like this…

(Oh.. and PS… I’m already working on WEJr being valedictorian at his Kindergarten commencement…)

6 thoughts on “It’s Graduation Time”

  1. Ah, WE, I can hear that you’re jealous you didn’t have a kindergarten graduation. Our gowns were a stylish red and white stripe–truly the height of fashion. I’ll let you in on the secret of why there are kindergarten graduations…it’s because the kids look so darn cute in their caps and gowns!

  2. As a former kindergarten teacher, I say “Hooray for kindergarten graduation!”. All those things you listed off in the beginning–going to school for half the day, using a public potty, learning letters and numbers–those are HUGE! And a lot of work for the student, teacher, and family. Curriculum rarely provides the song and dance routine that is needed to teach those kids. It comes from the teachers and the parents. I say give ’em a day to celebrate. And if that celebration happens to include butcher paper gowns and paper plate hats, so be it. 🙂

  3. I’m gonna agree with WE here.
    I recently watched “Waiting for Superman.” Loved it. It nicely packaged much of what I learned about our education system from “Sociology of Education” in school.
    I also taught English in Russia for a semester. My students were 11 years old. For most of them English was their 3rd or 4th language…and they were reading Shakespeare. It was eye opening for me.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t give our kids a healthy dose of encouragement and positive reinforcement. I just think we’ve got a rising generation of children who are more worried about their rights than their responsibilities.

  4. Have you missed the trophies that we given to every child, regardless of whether or not they win?? And what about the fact that half the time they don’t even keep score anymore so that no team feels demoralized? Kindergarten graduation cannot be a surprise to anyone!

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