Here we are at the end of another school year, where tons of graduates will be exiting the world of academia and entering the world of adulthood. Graduating is a huge step in the next direction. However, in recent years a growing trend has been to celebrate the graduation of 5 and 6 years old from kindergarten with as much exuberance as a high school senior or college graduate. Check out the Hallmark aisle at your local store and you will see Kindergarten graduation cards and money holders decorated with Mickey Mouse sitting right alongside those for high school and college seniors.
Yes – if you didn’t already know it, today kids are adorning mini cap and gowns atop fancy dresses and suit and ties in their school colors, and taking the walk down the aisle to receive their certificate of graduation from pre-school graduation ceremonies across the country. Sure, kindergarten is the last step of pre school, and marks a time in your child’s life where they will enter the more advanced halls of learning, void of constant Crayola creations and after lunch time naps. But is a full-fledged graduation ceremony really necessary?
Many parents feel that a simple party in the classroom with goodies and sweet drinks to commemorate the last day of school would be quite enough. After all, kids today are already indulged, and while kindergarten may be a ‘last step’ in one segment of the learning process, it is not that big of a deal. With looming graduation ceremonies parents today are lavishing expensive gifts and kudos to very young children for simply coloring within the lines, and following the excess reward and ‘trophy for all’ trend of parenting currently in style. Today, a 5 or 6 year old can barely manage to perform an expected responsibility without feeling as if they are deserving of a prize or reward or doing so.
Sure, getting through pre-school is bittersweet. It is definitely a threshold that you and your child will walk through together, and you will definitely be hit hard with the realization that your little one is growing up. The problem is that when we over emphasize things like kindergarten graduations, we raise the bar for other life successes to an unreasonably high level. Kids begin to realize the difference between a true accomplishment and simply a reaching a new level in life. If you are spending a few hundred dollars to celebrate a kindergarten or fifth grade or 8th grade graduations – how pray tell will you celebrate a high school or college graduation?
There isn’t a parent around that isn’t beaming with pride when it comes to their child. This pride helps to build up our children’s self-confidence and hopefully, motivate our children to do well in all areas of their lives. Yet at the same time, there should be many things in our children’s lives that should be deserving of a simple, “Great job,” and not a full-fledged celebration. Children shouldn’t be lavished with gifts for behaving at the dentist office, or given participation trophies for being on a team whether they added any value to said team or not. Parents shouldn’t be busting their budget by spending hundreds of dollars on a birthday party for a one-year-old child. And a $700 outing to American Girl or Build a Bear for a 5 or 6 year old who will barely remember the event is a tad pretentious.
Back in the day, graduation from high school and college were the big celebrations on campus so to speak and were the long sought after rewards of a young life spent in academic success. Today, graduation presents even at the higher levels of schooling tend to be over the top gifts such as cars, apartments and thousands upon thousands of dollars. While these events certainly are a big deal, a typical graduation from kindergarten does not really compare.
Certainly, it is fun to celebrate our children’s successes. It is also incredibly cute for parents to watch their child’s kindergarten class celebrate the end of the year by performing a class play, and showing off the collection of artwork that they have accumulated throughout the year. But a full blow kindergarten graduation, complete with pictures, caps and gowns, extravagant gifts, huge parties and family get togethers seems to be slightly off kilter. Just recently, one kindergarten graduation in Cleveland, Ohio resulted in the arrests of 8 parents attending the event after an incident occurred inside the building where one parent accidentally spilled punch on another parent. Perhaps this whole ordeal was just a result of too much stress placed on parents to make the event special for their kindergarten. (Now, this is a graduation the kids WILL remember)
Regardless, it seems that kindergarten graduations are here to stay. Each year, we can expect bigger and better things at the end of the kindergarten school year. As parents however, you might want to give some thought as to whether or not there are detrimental effects to doing too much too soon when it comes to our kids.