Yesterday my nephew graduated from kindergarten.
I remember the day I graduated from kindergarten. Each breath was heavy with excitement. My parents’ pride was thick in the air. I felt accomplished.
Oh wait. I didn’t. Because there wasn’t kindergarten graduation. On the last day of school I’m pretty sure my teacher just pushed us out the door, then had a solo dance party celebrating summer.
I’m gonna be unpopular: I think graduations from things like preschool and kindergarten are foolish.
I love celebrations. Yesterday I wrote a whole missive about my thirty second birthday which is pretty freaking insignificant. But you know what? I’ve earned 32. What kid has earned five? I’ve started to feel like this generation of kids is too often spoiled and coddled.
Don’t get me wrong – a baby kid in a cap and gown is freaking adorable. Just look at my little beauty of a nephew:
But if there is a graduation ceremony after kindergarten, why not after every grade? I didn’t have any sort of ceremony until I went from middle school to high school, and then it was called “Promotion,” not graduation. When I did graduate, it was from high school after thirteen years of education (counting, of course, kindergarten).
Mike has always been the cynical one who believes that children should have realistic expectations. I’ve told him he’s a jerk, a downer, a total buzz kill. Who wants to hear that only .0001% of kids make it in the NBA? Certainly not a 12 year old kid whose life revolves around neighborhood basketball.
Yet, lately, as my nephews and friends’ kids have aged, I’ve developed a bad taste in my mouth toward the constant ego-boosting. Both of my nephews got trophies for Little League this year. That’s fine, because they are little (four and six), but I’ve heard that in many Little Leagues today, every kid at every level gets a trophy. What the what? I feel like a total ass saying this, but IN MY DAY we walked uphill to get trophies, and only the top three teams got them, and you had to skin a hippopotamus to get a trophy that was more than two inches tall.
What has happened to me? Have I become a curmudgeon? Or am I not alone in worrying that we’re doing our kids a disservice for celebrating every little thing they do? Are we ruining our kids?
I am totally with you! I am a kidless curmudgeon so far, and am completely paranoid I will become a mollycoddling-rewards-for-doing-nothing parent someday. There’s a time and place for positive reinforcement, and it doesn’t always have to be for doing something – but if there’s no incentive to achieve why will kids bother? And you totally earned 32!
Agree with you both. And never even WENT to kindergarten! But have to admit the graduation ceremony my daughters went through leaving pre-school and kindergarten was pretty cute.
Son graduated HS this past week. I made as much fuss as he wanted. None. The only difference between this year end and the others is that I took pics of him in a cap and gown. He didn’t even attend the ceremonies. His choice. He says he will make a big deal of it when it is a degree. Yeah!
Kate @ UpsideBackwards says:
I’m with you on this one. In NZ we don’t “graduate” until we get a university degree!
I’m with Heather and Katie. In the uk you graduate when you get a degree. There are the ‘mortar board’ ceremonies for higher qualifications, degrees, phd, etc but not for anything below further education (for most people that will be 20 yrs old at the earliest).
And going up a level in school isnt called anything, just moving up a year.
Its so wrong sticking adult expectations of achievement on kids.
I never really thought about it, but kindergarten graduation was probably started because some well-meaning kindergarten teacher somewhere thought that the PARENTS would like it. And they did…so much so that it caught on and spread all over the place.
Lynn from For Love or Funny says:
I totally agree!!
yeah, they may look cute, but it’s not so cute working with young folk (hehe, i’m 37) who require incentives and bonuses for doing the job they are paid to do!
my nephew is an lovely example of this craziness, he has been told he is super dooper awesome and the worlds greatest everything, and when he hits the real world in a few short years, he will find out quick smart that he is average. very sad indeed.
You are not alone…we are totally setting our kids up for MAJOR let downs. Kids everywhere get a trophy for showing up…it has no significant value what-so-ever. I try to down play the participation trophy (read: toss it) so that when they get one that really matters it will mean something to them. It will mean that they worked REALLY hard and that hard work paid off.
I worry that the constant congratulations they recieve will give them a false idea of what the real world has in store. “do your job well and get paid, or loose it.” Nobody is going to throw a party when you meet a work deadline!
I think you meant “lose it”, not “loose it”. Just sayin’!
But I do agree with you. It is ridiculous to celebrate mediocrity. Kids have grown to expect being showered with praise for doing nothing. Sad.
I absolutely agree. I never had any ceremony of any sort until high school. I do remember pizza parties for making the honor roll. Guess what… if you didn’t make it you didn’t get to go. You sat in a classroom with the others who didn’t make it. I don’t think it ruined any ones lifeif they missed out.
At our school, it was ice cream parties each semester for honor roll, and you actually had to get pretty stellar grades for that. “Passing” simply didn’t cut it for special recognition.
Couldn’t agree more!
Mrs. Cookie says:
I absolutely agree. I have a friend who inherently disagrees with this. I’m a teacher, and she’s not, but she thinks that I should award kids for “effort” more than I do. She got really upset once when she saw something I had graded because I “hadn’t put checks next to everything they got right, only x’s next to things they got wrong.” I’m sorry. I’m grading 100 papers, I’m not going to waste time and ink to pat them on the back for every little write answer. Get ’em all right and you won’t get the x’s. She also thinks that kids who try really hard should be promoted no matter what, even if they haven’t come close to grasping the concepts they need for the next grade. I think that is doing them a huge disservice. We have kids in 6th grade who this clearly has been done for and they still can’t add. How’s that for special treatment? I guess I’m just an old meany-pants.
I used to tutor elementary school kids who had been socially promoted, and I completely agree with you. These kids were being done no favors. Their reading and math skills were on a kindergarten or first grade level in 3rd or 4th grade. They were completely lost in school, and I can’t imagine they’ll keep going to school once they get old enough to skip.
All social promotion accomplishes is creating truants later on. When a kid with a first grade reading level gets up to fourth, fifth, and even sixth grade, are they going to be able to keep up with the work? Of course not. What kid is going to want to admit in front of their peers that they can’t read? As a particular un-grasped skill becomes more and more important, the kid is simply going to learn to work around or avoid it. Once the “my tummy hurts” line stops working at home, you can bet they’ll find some other way off campus.
it is really simple…. today’s kids do not know there are consequences for actions taken; they just expect that all will be given to them because they exist. It is really sad. They do not have to put forth effort because they will be rewarded for doing nothing! oh wait I forgot: I’m not allowed to have an opinion because I don’t have kids… at least that is what I’m told!!!
heather m. says:
i completely, 100% agree. i’m a preschool teacher who gets unbelievable amounts of flack for not having a graduation at the end of school year. why should we celebrate your kid just getting older? don’t we have birthdays for that? we constantly celebrate achievements in our classrooms, should’t we save the pomp and circumstance for actual achievements? i worked in the inner city for years where kindergarten and eighth grade graduations were matched with limos, tuxedos, floofy dresses and gargantuan celebrations. many families would defend their overzealousness with, “but this may be the only graduation that they have”. what a way to DISCOURAGE reaching higher!
I totally agree, Heather. When everyone is awarded for everything it really makes the awards invalid, and then what is the motivation for hard work? The attitude becomes: Whatever my effort I will get a prize.
I am a high school teacher and I do think kids are SPOILED and expect things (prizes, candy, a “excellent!”) just for doing the norm. Sometimes I feel like I’m the first one that’s ever said no to them. I reward growth over the year, and there is a cut off point. If you didn’t meet the goal growth, no root beer float for you. Sorry. (I do them after school so it’s not quite so in your face, but if you don’t have the ticket, you don’t get one.)
I work at a small preschool at which the majority of the children start when they are toddlers. The school ends at Kindergarten, though by Kindergarten most of the children have left to go on to new schools (many of them go to private schools that start at K). I teach the Kindergarten class and we have a small “graduation” just for the Kindergartners. Many of them have been at the school as long as they can remember, up to four years. There are no caps and gowns, but rather a ceremony celebrating the children (they write poems about each other and receive inscribed books). Then we have a party afterwards for the children and their families. To me, it is a meaningful way for the children to say goodbye to a place that has been their home away from home for 3-4 years.
I couldn’t agree more.
Try being a teacher amongst this new trend of “everyone wins”. Reward strategies become something of a farce and you know what I’ve realised? Kids know. Maybe not as young as five but once they get up towards nine and ten, they KNOW that everyone’s going to get something. No need to try, no need to strive for excellence, just exist and you’ll eventually get a pretty ribbon that says “Pupil of the Week.” More to the point, they start to expect that everything is fair and that if someone gets a turn to do something, they will eventually get their turn. When that crops up, though I’m sure I’d annoy some parents, I’m reasonably frank with them. Life isn’t fair, not everyone gets a balloon and your worth as a person will not be judged by how many successes you have but by how you face your defeats. Resilience. We’re breeding it out of our kids.
Can I take what you have written and extend it to the adults I teach in college?
When these students get to college, they figure that if they show up for class and breathe, they’ll not only pass, but they’ll get an A or B. Really? What a shock they received when they wind up in my class and they actually have to prove to me that they understand science in order to pass.
Trust me, that continues right on to professional school, where I had to listen to about six of my barely-22 law school classmates complain that they got Cs in a class they never showed up for…….after partying the night before the final.
You know why you got a C? Because that is the work you did. You do not get As and Bs just for showing up for the test and writing random crap down in a blue book.
Definitely not alone. I was very very happy that my son, who is twelve, did NOT get a “graduation” ceremony in kindergarten or elementary school. I was a bit uncomfortable even with their “promotion” ceremony because it did seem a bit forced, and awards were handed out for all sorts of things that normally a good word would have been enough.
I firmly believe that EVERY milestone does not have to be such a celebration–because if it is, then the specialness of the situation is lost.
Took the words right outta my mouth ! I couldn’t agree with you more !!!
I am another teacher who agrees with you! Kids rarely have to earn anything anymore, everything is given to them. Then, people gripe about all the 20 somethings who have such a warped sense of entitlement…..gee, wonder why??!! I read an article recently about this same topic, and the author made a good point: schools, teams, etc. place so much emphasis on self esteem, BUT self esteem does not create independent adults who can deal with problems/issues in life. However, if we make kids earn achievements, then they will learn the value of hard work, practice and dedication.
My son had a ‘moving up’ ceremony from preschool this year, for exactly the same reasons you cite. The director said graduation should be reserved for those who have earned it.
I am chuckling that many on my FB friends list have kids who are graduating from K. Um, aren’t they going back to the same school next year? To me, implicit in the definition of ‘graduation’ is leaving the place you’ve been attending.
Just like Mike’s post last week about the playground, you’re not going to get very many dissenting opinions here. I just have a feeling about that, and it’s not because no one disagrees with us.
I totally agree with you, Heather. While a kindergarten graduation ceremony is danged cute and a good photo op, it means nothing. Our two kids went to the same school but had different kindergarten teachers. One had a nice little program for the parents on the last day of school and the other had a regular graduation ceremony. My daughter wasn’t jealous that my son got a graduation and my son could’ve cared less. The only thing that made me smile was the fact that I had a really cute picture of my son’s kindergarten graduation to put in the ‘shrine’ that we made for his high school graduation.
“I firmly believe that EVERY milestone does not have to be such a celebration–because if it is, then the specialness of the situation is lost.”
This is SUCH a true statement
YES, Heather. YES.
Two of my high school friends have kids who just graduated kindergarten and I was appaled to see the “graduation pictures” on Facebook. You don’t graduate kindergarten, you just go on to first grade. Middle school and high school, I understannd, but elementary school and kindergarten? Noooo.
We live in a society that judges people on merit. The letters after your name, the numbers of diplomas on your wall, the skil you have at whatever it is you do. Not only are things like salary in careers based on our ability levels, but so is much of the way we view people on society. (Have you ever noticed that it’s the careers that require advanced degrees, like doctors, that get the most respect?) Every time I see an “everybody wins!” kind of situation, I get a bad taste in my mouth because while I think we should encourage kids to participate and not rub in their faces when they lose, they also need to understand that people do lose.
When I was in fourth grade, I played basketball in my school’s intermurual league. Our team took second place and we all got awesome trophies. It was one of my proudest days because I earned a trophy with my team. In fifth grade, when I played again, my team placed second to last. We got a “participation ribbon.” And I was disappointed, but I alos understood that I hadn’t earned a trophy. The trophy sat on my dresser until I was in high school, something I was proud of because I did something to get it. The ribbon, not so much.
I think if we reward hard work and accomplishment the same way we reward just showing up, we’re flying in the face of the way our society works – and how our kids will be valued as adults. And rightly or wrong though that may be, we need our children to be realistic so they don’t think that they can just drink beer and sleep through college – which a lot of people already think.
(And don’t get me started on how college education is become a joke in so many places. God, I’m 27 and sound like a curmudgeon.)
I couldn’t agree with you more!!! You are sooo right!!!
However, when you said “(Have you ever noticed that it’s the careers that require advanced degrees, like doctors, that get the most respect?)”, I had to point out that this is USUALLY the case, but not always. Unfortunately, elementary school teachers, many of whom have master’s degrees, are considered glorified babysitters by some. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. The salary that teachers earn, even with their post-graduate education, and the fact that they shape the lives of our youth, is shameful.
Ok, I will get off my soapbox. Your comment was right on though!
Oh, you’re absolutely right! No, my phrasing was a fail there, I’m realizing in retrospect. (And some of my spelling – I need to stop replying to these posts first thing in the morning!)
I meant that careers in which you have no choice BUT to get the advanced degree. Teachers get treated miserably by our society – “Those who can’t, teach!” comes to mind – and the fact that many have done post-graduate and even doctoral work often gets overlooked. I taught for several years and I was appaled at the amount of, “Oh, you could get a real job!” jokes I was the butt of at family gatherings.
But the common perception is that teaching does not require post-graduate work and that, in fact, teaching is a “soft” discipline in the first place, whereas being a doctor requires a degree that even the most clueless lay-person knows is rigorious. The same for anything in the medical field, law, the “hard” sciences, et cetera.
No, I am absolutely disgusted with the way we treat our teachers, too. We can share the soapbox.
I couldn’t agree more with you! I have friend whose son graduated from Pre-k with cap & gowns. I’m afraid that Graduation will no longer be a big deal!
I agree. There’s no reason to let children pass on to the next grade, just so they can ‘stay with their friends’. They’re kids. They can make new ones. That’s a lot easier than attempting to get a job with a 3rd grade reading level..
When I graduated high school (I was the first female on my maternal side to not only graduate, but earn honors), my father told me, “Congratulations, but just remember: you’re not finished until you have a masters. Or doctorate.”
I’m on the fence, to be honest. My son just had TWO preschool graduations (because he went to a preschool separate from his daycare that also had a pre-k program). I thought they were completely adorable, but over the top? Maybe. Cj, though, didn’t really latch on to the accomplishment bit as much as he did there was an event that he took special part. He also got medals for soccer (they get one every season). At this stage, I think the prize is just that for them, a prize. And, for me, its another piece of trash to find a spot for at the house.
So, again, I’m on the fence but I don’t see that its hurting much as long as they are having realistic expectations set for them about what their involvement means.
I totally agree with you. Kids are so indulged these days and it’s a shame. They don’t necessarily grow up to be pleasant people. They expect things to be handed to them, and they expect to be celebrated at every turn.
This is not building self esteem. It’s building huge inflated egos.
It’s sad that kids these days are being conditioned from a very early age to think that they don’t have to work hard to earn anything, they’re raised to believe that they just deserve praise for simply gracing the world with their presence.
I can’t figure out why this mentality ever got started, but it sure is frustrating.
We celebrated real accomplishments, like when the kids learned how to go on the potty or tie their shoes or ride a bicycle. Celebrating just because they completed kindergarten? I’m against it. The kids are cute but there’s no point to it and it just builds up their expectations for more attention later. And the trophies and medals? What a waste of money and plastic. My daughter sings in the children’s choir. Her reward for weeks of hard work is getting to perform in the symphony hall with a real orchestra. She doesn’t need another plastic trophy; in addition, it totally frosts me that the choir is constantly begging for donations and yet they waste money on junk to give the kids that’s just going to land in the trash.
I’ve read your blog for almost 2 years and I don’t think I have ever posted a comment, but this has brought me out of my shell! My son had a “graduation” from pre-school, which I thought was foolish because he was two weeks too young to go to Kindergarten, so he went to Jr. K (an invention to make me have to pay for yet ANOTHER year of preschool before he heads to public school this fall!). This spring he had a Jr. K graduation, which my husband and I referred to as “promotion” because you only graduate from HS, college, and grad school. I wanted him to skip both, but they make such a big deal about it at school that it was hugely important to him. I felt like I should make him miss something he wanted to go to just because I thought it was stupid. If this was the case, then I would have never had NKOTB tapes because my parents thought they were stupid. However, I resent having to make that choice. A 4/5 year old doesn’t need to be in a cap and gown…woo hoo, you finished a year of school…BFD! Although, like you…I do think the pictures are cute!
Linda Campbell says:
I’m on the fence too. I don’t agree with spoiling a kid and overwhelming them with praise for every little thing they do. How do they know when they really do well then?
Having said that, I just signed my three year old son up for pre-school, he will start in the Fall. After reading the information, at the end it said there would be a “graduation celebration”. I used to think it was stupid, until it was my kid! When I read it, I thought, “aww, that will be cute”. I guess everything changes when it’s your own child?? I don’t know, like I said, I’m on the fence.
I figure skate. And it annoys the crap out of me when I’m trying to practice and have to deal with some parent filming their helmet-clad child inching around the rink. (Or the middle schoolers who stop in the middle of the rink to take group picturse because OMIGOD we’re BFFs but that’s a different rant.)
Yesterday, I heard a coach say to one of her students, the daughter of a filming mom, “NO ONE wants to watch a video of a little girl marching on skates.” This coach is now my hero.
I agree with you. I don’t see an issue with a parent saying, “you worked hard in kindergarten, and we’re going to go out to lunch to celebrate.” I know that kindergarten these days can be very tough for kids. But when you call it graduation, it cheapens the efforts of the kids who work really hard to graduate from high school, college, grad school.
Plus, I’ve heard lots of parents express fatigue with all the running around involved with the end of the school year, and the extra costs involved with all this can put a financial strain on some.
Simply Jenn says:
I sort of half agree. I think kindergarten graduations help the children realizing that they are becoming “big kids”, and gives them the summer to think about what 1st grade is going to be like. Especially in areas where there is only half-day kindergarten, it’s a big change that in my VERY humble opinion (I have no degree in education, but I do have 5 kids who went through a kindergarten graduation), gives them the summer to kind of think it through and some kids need that reminder that things will be different when they come back, but that different isn’t scary or bad, it’s just different. After kindergarten though, I don’t think it’s necessary.
With the trophies though, I believe that gets a little ridiculous. My son’s 6th grade team one 1 out of 12 games- does that deserve a trophy? No. But, by that age they have realized the game is a competition and would not expect a trophy. For K-2nd grade though, they just get so excited by it and are so proud they received trophies, and I think that helps to keep them wanting to play the game. They remember those trophies and want to play again. Anything that keeps kids in sports is just fine with me. We insist that ours be involved in SOMETHING, and mine have all made the decision to play a sport. I think those very early years of trophies make it enjoyable for them- and I am a sucker for 4 year olds beaming like they have accomplished the greatest thing in the world- their sweet little baby faces are too adorable for me to not want them to get trophies. And really, by the time they stop getting trophies for being on a team and breathing (usually 2nd grade here), they understand that trophies are for teams who have worked hard and earned them.
Sorry, this is a little long. In short, kindergarten graduation is, in my eyes, a reminder that things will change when they come back in the fall. They’ll remember their little caps and gowns and come back waiting for great things to happen, and honestly? We parents look back on those kindergarten photos when they’re in college and realize how amazingly far they have come. After 2nd grade, I think trophies are not necessary, because it seems by that point the kids know whether they deserved them or not. But early on, if it encourages them to continue playing a sport, I’m all for it.
Ragan Massey says:
So far I have sat through 3 preschool graduations, 3 kindergarten graduations, 2 elementary school graduations and 1 middle school graduation. Every time myself (and my husband) are dumfounded in the amount of excitement there is with every graduation (from everyone else, not us). Do the kids really need flowers? Don’t we expect them to “promote” to the next grade? What is the drop out rate for preschool, kindergarten, elementary school or middle school….I mean seriously! I am still the mom that believes the report card better have good grades on it and if it doesn’t there are consequences but if there are…I am not buying you a car. People have started buying kids cars for their 15th birthday. I can’t and do not want to keep up with the “Jones”. I expect my kids to graduate from High School, hopefully college but I refuse to buy flowers and cars and presents when the go on to another grade! Okay…I feel better now! Basically, I am in complete agreement with you
I am of two minds about this. as a high school teacher I think it is ridiculous and I see the fallout. I have seniors who truly do not understand why I will not pass them so they can graduate. they figure they have shown up most of the time and done some of the work, isn’t that enough?
but, like another commenter mentioned, the daycare that my daughter goes to has a graduation ceremony and although it is 3 years away I am looking forward to it (and getting a little teary thinking about it). my daughter started there when she was 3 months old and is moving up through the classrooms with the same group of kids, there should be something important to mark the end of that. I am sure I will be there and the grandparents will be there and that there will be a lot of tears (and probably some cake).
kindergarten, on the other hand is silly, they are going to be back in the same school with the same kids the next year.
I agree on this. When I was little I played a bunch of sports. I wasn’t bad but I was never great and I never really enjoyed playing. My brothers were good and they worked to be better because they wanted the trophies and liked the game. Even though I wasn’t into it, I always tried harder because I wanted a trophy too. What’s the motivation to be better at the game and work harder if you are going to get a trophy no matter what you do? If I knew I was getting a trophy I probably wouldn’t have tried at all, but I wanted to prove to my brothers that I was good enough to get one. I also didn’t always succeed which ended up being a lesson in good sportsmanship for me. How will kids learn to lose graciously and be good sports if everyone always wins, and what about the kid who works harder then everyone else but gets the same crappy trophy as the kid who did nothing all season?
Oh, I completely agree with you on this. Celebrating EVERY LITTLE THING, especially those that aren’t even accomplishments is not teaching our children anything about life in the real world. I’ve read countless stories about companies having trouble with their new college grad employees because they expect praise for everything, but that’s just not the real world.
It is one thing to celebrate the end of the school year and make kids feel like they’ve accomplished something and get excited about moving onto the next grade, but holding a graduation from preschool and kindergarten is a bit much if you ask me.
Julie R says:
Totally agree. Every parent should read this:
I agree with you on principle. BUT, wait until it is your daughter and you will be there beaming with pride and with camera and video in tow
So true Dianne. I can’t wait to see Annie’s graduation photo
That’s the problem right there! It’s more for the parents. That seems insane to me to release all of our principles and values just for some cute pictures and footage. The kid is still cute every day without a ceremony that will be one of the many things to risk our children’s understanding of accomplishment and ceremony and self-worth. Research shows that it actually diminishes s self-worth when you reward people for things that didn’t take much effort to achieve. Rewarding non-accomplishments is actually worse than ignoring real accomplishments! Crazy but true! Sorry, but I just hate that defense, “wait until it’s you” and especially, “well you’re not a mom.” I can totally understand that notion and I’ve experienced that in life, but I take it with a grain of salt. I don’t necessarily WANT to give up my values to give in to my emotions. I don’t want to cling to them unnecessarily either. I tread with caution, that’s a good way to put it!
I’m with Heather on this one! My 5 yr old son just finished PreK and his school had a combined graduation for…get this…the PreK, Kindergarten, and 5th Grade students! The PreK and K students were in caps & gowns. We felt obligated to buy the $20 (gasp) cap and gown for my son since they made such a big deal about it. Then we found out that we could have not paid for it and the PTO would have covered it. (Well, this way my son now has an expensive costume to add to his bin of dressup clothes at home.)
With a PreK and K graduation at that school, I can’t help but wonder what a let down the children will feel to have nothing special to mark the end of 1st grade. We won’t know as he will be attending a different school in the fall — one that (thankfully) doesn’t do graduations.
I am not in favor of the PreK graduation, but have to admit that it made for a cute photo op.
You may be interested in this book: http://www.amazon.com/Optimistic-Child-Safeguard-Depression-Resilience/dp/0060977094
Research has shown that this “feel good” type parenting and teaching actually has the opposite one of the effect intended and does not create optomistic kids (and later adults). Its really interesting and I’ve noticed that using it with my own kids is working. One of the best parenting books I’ve read.
Agree is not a big enough word for this one! My husband coached many years of Little League and one season a boy quit after a few practices – never played a game. After the season was over, his mom called and wanted to come pick up his trophy! WHAT?!? She was dead serious. He “earned” it by virtue of signing up.
Another time, when our youngest was nine, he played on a team that finished last. The parents learned that there would be no trophy for last place so they all chipped in and bought trophies to give the players. My son got his, said “this is crap” and threw it in the trash. As the youngest of five he knew full well that you get trophies for winning, not
Just say no to meaningless rewards!
Couldn’t agree more!!! Did you know that at most schools EVERY kid kids a “Student of the Month” award at some point in the year now? And that NO KID is allowed to receive it twice in one year, even if they deserve it!!? For heaven’s sakes!!!! You should hear some of the BS categories that some of the kids get the award for too. “Most Improved” I can understand. But “Sense of Humor” or “Remembering to Sign Up for Lunch Every Day”??? You are kidding, right? :0
I am the same age as you but as I kid I did get a trophy/ceremony for every little thing (maybe my town was a pioneer in the “everybody wins” arena). Although it created mountains of unnecessary clutter in my bedroom, I don’t think any of us were ruined, especially in sports, mostly because we knew who won and who lost anyway. And believe me, NO ONE wants to be presented with the last place trophy. It’s like a public proclamation that you sucked it up all season! Truly it would have been better not to be acknowledged at all. I am sure it is not the intention of the parents who want everyone to get something, but humiliation was a good motivator to win games!
100% agree with you…the “everyone gets a trophy” upsets me the most. When we were kids, there were winners AND losers, and yeah, losing wasn’t fun…but it made you try harder to get that trophy the next time around.
I had a cap and gown (paper hat that we made ) from nursery school and I still remember it. I do think it is special and maybe not school color caps and gowns but I do think that it’s not out of line to have some sort of celebration. And I think Kindergarten IS different even if they are going back to the same school with the same kids.
As a parent I don’t generally do the whole congratulate everything but I am supportive of my kids, and in our family we’ll have any excuse for a party. But I’ll tell them how it is in sports and academics and the like. But I don’t think a little fake graduation ceremony is going to break our kids.
This. I think this is waaay melodramatic, especially since the kids are so young.
Humm, I’m on the fence here.
I totally agree about the graduation, although I imagine it’s more for the parents than the kids… But I do think it’s a little silly to have a graduation from preschool, why not just a party, without caps, so the kids can say goodbye to their frinds, teacher and school?
On the other hand, I think that getting a prize after a year of practice is healthy.
We already live in a society with so much competition, that labels winners and loosers, a lot of times without recognizing the effort made for those who came second – and third, fourth… Why pass this image to our children, that it is not important if he/she went to every game, every practice, ’cause if your team didn’t win, you do not deserve a medal. So, as long as parents keep it real with the kid, showing that the medal does not mean he/she is the best player in the world, I guess it’s ok!
Oh, sorry for the poor english, it’s not my first language!
I couldn’t agree with you more. Life isn’t always about celebrating expected accomplishments. If you cant make it through kindergarten, or middle school you are going to have bigger problems. 5 year olds in caps and gowns is SUPER CUTE, but the lesson is more important.
You cant celebrate every accomplishment, some things are just expected.
I agree to a certain extent, but I also think there is nothing wrong with a graduation or a closing ceremony from preschool. It doesn’t have to be about “winning” maybe just a celebration for all involved… I don’t see any harm in a preschool graduation.
I’m 32 and we had a preschool graduation (with paper hats, I’m in awe of your nephews garb), 8th grade graduation and regular. I agree, it can get silly for sure! But, when my 5 yr. old just graduated you just get all excited for them (which I’m sure you did for your nephew just fine) and go with it. AND, you will totally cry when they sing their songs. My five year old almost lost it while singing some goodbye song. As a side note, when my 7 year old graduated preschool and the teacher read “Love You Forever” (shudder) and it just annoyed me a little. I HATE that book (no offense to anyone). It’s just the oddest book to me. So, no tears at that one….and I was one of few that didn’t cry. Apparently, people love this book.
It can all get to be too much when there’s a graduation for everything!!!
LOL I just had to comment on this because I’ve always felt weird about that book. I used to think it was only because I wasn’t the mother of a boy. Well, now I have two boys (5 and 7) and it still weirds me out when the mom creeps into her adult son’s room while he’s asleep and rocks him in her lap!
Funny! Thanks for replying….when you mention that (not that I often do) you either get someone that totally understands or someone that thinks you must be off your rocker and heartless! I have three boys (7, 5 and 3) and it’s just odd to me.
I grew up old school. As an Army brat, as a matter of fact, when if I got praised for doing something incredible, it was, in fact, incredible! Pre kids, I was a teacher, and now I volunteer a lot in my children’s school. Where, they are REWARDED constantly for doing what they are supposed to be doing, which is usually the bare minimum. We use the AR (accelerated reading) program here, and I can barely take it when children are rewarded and awarded at the end of each term for REACHING THEIR GOAL. Not getting the most points, but reaching the set goal. Which, by the way, isn’t set too high. I’ve seen kids who have been horrible the whole school year get the Behavior Award at the last awards ceremony because they’ve actually, sort of, half-way behaved for a few weeks.
Then there’s the world of sports where this is most evident. I’m all for little ones having a blast on a field or court where scores aren’t being kept and getting a trophy at the end of a season. BUT. Then they get older and enter competitive leagues. Competitive leagues are for COMPETITION. Where you work really hard and probably would like to win some games. Recreation leagues remain for those who want to have fun without the pressures of competitive leagues. My oldest is ten, and I’ve seen countless incidents (many involving my poor husband who coaches) of parents complaining because their kid isn’t getting equal playing time. (Um, maybe because she can’t play and we don’t have to play her equal time and maybe you need to direct her toward something she is actually interested in and is good at??) Or Precious is upset because she wants to play point guard. (There again, she stinks at that position, and we sort of need the ball to get down the court because this is, after all, a game where someone wins and someone loses.) Ugh.
In answer to your question, YES, we are ruining our children. We are raising entire generations of children who think they are wonderful because they achieve mediocrity. The bar has been lowered to the point that there is no bar. Everyone is equal and smart and athletic and outstanding! At everything! And that worries me greatly, but in this house, there are two little girls whose parents are doing everything we can to buck that system. We praise and reward when, and only when, there is just cause.
mindy b. says:
I agree with you 100%. I have 2 nephews who just graduated from preschool. PRESCHOOL! Adorable, sure, but the parents had to buy the cap & gown. BUY! Seriously. They also recently finished up their t-ball season, and everyone got a medal. The younger of the two boys said, “I won!” Well no, they didn’t, but the concept is completely lost when everyone ‘wins,’ so they have no concept.
I’m not saying it’s not cute to see them so excited, because it absolutely is, but how do kids ever learn what a real accomplishment is? Sure, I’ll be there when my daughter graduates, gets her medals, etc., but it’s really so unnecessary. What’s so special about graduating from high school and college when you’ve done it 5 times before?
mindy b. says:
Funny, I’m hearing two colleagues talk about this very subject right now, too! There’s two more for the case of ‘enough is enough!’
You are not alone… I totally agree!! At my son’s elementary school, they have an awards program at the end of each year to celebrate and reward the kids who have EARNED different things – Honor Roll, Perfect Attendance, etc. They get ribbons and certificates for these things, and there are several kids who don’t get anything. And that’s just the way it goes! I’m OK with this, because they are rewarding the kids who have made the extra effort to work hard and participate. The kids who have done nothing get nothing.
funny how we reward perfect attendance when attendance is expected. Or celebrate birthdays when you are expected to stick around another year. I don’t see the graduation as a “reward” but more of a celebration of all of the year’s accomplishments, hard work, good times and bad.
Oh thank you! I totally agree, and I’m sure when V starts school I’m going to be the unpopular one, but seriously? She doesn’t need to ‘graduate’ from pre-school (aka DAYCARE) then kindergarten, then grade 2 then grade 8 and finally highschool. Eeesh. I mean, sure, party, say good-bye, move on, whatever, but you’re not freaking graduating!
Love your blog. I’ve never commented before but I couldn’t pass this one up! I agree with you 110%!! What the heck does a trophy mean if everyone gets one? I think kids are growing up with a sense of entitlement that is way out of proportion, and I’m afraid they are in for a huge awakening when they grow up. Thanks for sharing your life—-Annie is adorable!
I totally agree about giving every kid a reward for something. I played in a local softball league in middle school and I was pretty bad. I remember one season my team got 2nd last place in the entire league, but we still each got a tiny trophy. I felt kind of insulted that they had given us these loser’s trophies, rather than just rewarding the top teams.
I had an 8th grade graduation and it was really meaningful to me. However, I did go to a small, tight-knit private school and most of us had been together there for at least 8 years. I agree that graduation is pretty silly for kindergarten, but I don’t see how a small ceremony (without useless awards) recognizing the transition out of elementary or middle school is harmful to kids.
The comments are kind of freaking me out, because I’m studying to be a teacher!!!
There was just an article about this in the Washington Post this morning! How timely: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/pomp-as-students-finish-elementary-school-but-is-it-a-real-graduation/2011/06/14/AGX5eCVH_story.html
And I agree with you…
I could not agree with you more. I saw kids graduating from pre-school, kindergarten, and eighth grade this year. When is it enough?? And I completely agree on the trophies thing. Why not give each child a little medal for participation or something? They do NOT all need a trophy. Telling children that they should actually have to do something worth of accolades to receive them is NOT a bad thing and I will definitely be trying to instill that in my children.
I agree with you 110% completely! My husband’s cousin is getting an 8th grade graduation pizza party and we had to buy a present. A PRESENT!! FOR GRADUATING THE 8th GRADE! Mind you, this kid had his Bar Mitzvah last year, so I’m of the view I’m done celebrating him until he graduates high school. You’re supposed to graduate the 8th grade – it’s no cause for a party. You get to have a summer and then enjoy the perils of high school for four years. THAT is your graduation gift.
Ugh. I totally agree. I just had to take several hours off of work last week to attend my daughter’s kindergarten graduation. While I found it ridiculous (and, honestly, her teacher didn’t look particularly thrilled about it, either) I knew she would feel really bad if her mom and dad weren’t there and all the other kids’ parents were. So I went. I took a couple blurry pictures with my phone. Had some cake. She wore a cardboard circle printed to look like a mortarboard and they sang a couple songs. Whatever – it gave my daughter a second use for her flower girl dress. That’s more than I can say for any of my bridesmaid dresses!
As for the entitlement and celebrating every little participation (I can’t even say accomplishment because showing up for something isn’t necessarily an accomplishment), no kidding! I had straight A’s all the way through high school. I didn’t get squat from my parents. My dad called my report card boring. I think they may have taken my siblings and me out for a “good grades dinner” a few times, but that didn’t even start until college! I remember my friends and I hording a bunch of free dessert coupons from a local restaurant that were handed out to kids on the B Honor Roll from 7th grade on. Once we were able to drive, we took full advantage of those.
At conferences this year, the kindergarten teacher informed us how frustrated she gets because school policy prohibits her from telling parents that their child is unable to do something. She has to say, “sometimes, with assistance, your child is able to _____.” And generally, the parents of those children aren’t smart enough to figure out that it means their kid is struggling in a particular area. They think everything’s going great and don’t realize that maybe they should do some extra work with their kid at home in that subject. I can’t imagine how that little self-esteem protection can possibly help those kids in the long run.
Lisa D. says:
I don’t think your curmudgeonly at all. We skipped my oldest’s preschool graduation this year to go to the beach. Honestly, I think all these ceremonies–especially for little tiny kids–are more for the parents anyway.
I’m with you, 100%. My friend’s daughter plays in a little league softball league where they don’t even keep score so no one wins or loses!! And she’s 8. Protecting our kid from failures is not doing them any favors.
Oooh..I HATE that! The kids all know who won/lost anyway, so why not keep score?! My son’s tee-ball team played REAL games, with a score, when he was 4 years old.
How in the world did a kindergartener beat me to the mortar board?!!?
I’m graduating with a bachelor’s and I don’t get a mortar board!!! My university follows the Cambridge system and that means no mortar board for undergrad degrees! Looks like I’ll have to go on to a masters
I agree- it is overdone- awards for everything nowadays.
But- I “graduated” from kindergarten 43 years ago. The director of the private kindergarten (our district didn’t have public kindergarten) had white caps and gowns, we practiced the procession and received “diplomas” with cartoon animals around the edges.
I remember a sense of being grown up enough for “real school” in the fall combined with some understanding that it was a pretend graduation that hinted that someday we would be real graduates in a grownup world.
I agree to an extent… my DS will be in Pre-K at his daycare this coming fall and at the end they will have a “graduation” ceremony and I think this is okay because they will be going to “Big Kid” school and will no longer be in daycare.
Also my son plays T-Ball and will get a participation medal at the end, again I think this is okay its his first year and its not about winning or losing, they don’t even keep score, they are just teaching the kids the basic concept. Now, I did hear someone say that if we wanted trophies for the kids then we could do that out of our own pocket on this I do not agree, my DS does not need a trophy he didn’t do anything to earn it. But, I do have to say its not always about winning or losing just to get something, I do think if you did your best then that’s okay but I don’t think kids should move up a grade in school if they can’t do the work.
Just my opinion.
My daughters’ preschool did an end of the year “celebration” where the kids sang songs and there was a slideshow of photos from the year. No made up awards, nothing I had to buy, no graduation ceremony, just a recognition of a transition from one year to another. That was perfect, for me. However, plenty of parents brought huge bunches of balloons or flowers, or expensive gifts, to that party for their little ones. A dozen roses for your 5 year old? Really? What are you going to give her when she is sixteen?
And other parents I know have been invited to kindergarten graduation parties where they are expected to bring substantial gifts. I’ll pass on those.
I have also recently learned about “passing presents”, which are presents that parents give when the kid successfully passes for the school year and moves up a grade. Really? I call that “doing their job.” Okay–if you have a kid who has struggled and worked hard, and you want to recognize that by saying “nice work!” or having a family dinner, fine. But buying your 2nd grader an iPod touch for finishing 2nd grade? No. I frequently tell my kids that I do not get rewarded for everything I do; there are some things that we ALL do simply because we are part of a family, and part of a community, and we have to do our part.
I’ve been saying this for a while…it’s overkill! Preschool, kindegarten AND Middle school graduations….really? The kids have no choice to move on to the next grade as they are too young to drop out.
Pretty much believe that all of these “graduation” type events started by the parents & the kids could care less. They don’t even know what it means! So my daughter’s preschool class of kids leaving to go to kindergarten did a play and wore hats and the parents went and took pictures. That was about it. Not sure if the school she is going to does kindergarten or not b/c she is there k-8 so I doubt it. I went there and we didn’t do anything “back in the day”.
As for the trophies, again most likely started by some “well meaning” parents who’s kid was upset at the end of the year b/c they didn’t get a ribbon or trophy or whatever and decided to ask all the other parents to contribute $$ so EVERYONE could get a trophy. If that happens to my kids I will be happy to say – no thanks, keep your trophy b/c its just going to collect dust with all of my trophies that I still have (but deserved of course!). Frankly, if its a competition then yes a trophy is fine but if its just a sport that they are learning I don’t think they need them to continue to play.
I am sooooooooo with you. I balked at the idea when they wanted us to pay 35 dollars for a mini cap and gown for my four year old. I grew up with the idea that not every little thing that I did was special. That made the times when I actually accomplished something pretty meaningful.
I love my kids but they are strong enough to handle not being praised every time they inhale and/or exhale.
I’m a little torn about this, although as an instructor (I teach at a university), I tend to think that there are no real changes in human behavior — people have been complaining about kids these days since Aristotle’s time. But I do see a lot of laziness and self-entitlement. But the laziness worries me more than the entitlement— that seems inherent to being a teenager. I’m more concerned about the consumption of instant and easy media than I am about the self-esteem boosting trend. Perhaps because there are no prizes for finishing Les Miserables in high school, but that will teach you more patience and dedication than a lot of things that will give you a ribbon. More and more people just read things online, where things are bright and shiny (and short! with links!) than reading things in print. As I read for my PhD, I’m remembering how much effort is required to read something like Ovid (as I comment on a blog! the irony!)
So I think, honestly, the problems I see are less from a kindergarten graduation/promotion (I had one, and I’m 27— whatever, I think they’re a little silly and a waste of time, but recognition that I didn’t suck was never unwelcome) but from people who have so. much. media at their fingertips that they don’t need to do anything. They don’t garden, don’t cook, don’t read, don’t take photographs. They do text, shop, surf the Internet, and watch TV. I’d be more grateful that a kid is actually doing something that requires physical/cognitive effort— anything— and that they get a silly participation trophy for it— then they sit inside and get their Self-Esteem Points from the Wii.
i agree 100%. i had 1 ceremony when i graduated high school. i played sports thru out and we only got recognition if we were in the top 3 (i think i may have gotten a ‘participation’ ribbon once at a track event for coming in 4th).
i’m all for celebrating kids when they do well, but not necessarily just when they do.
I agree and disagree with your post. It seems that many daycares and schools do it differently. My oldest son had a pre-K graduation from his daycare which was absolutely adorable and appropriate, in my opinion, since he was moving on to “real” school. He worked hard that year, began reading, etc so why not celebrate that accomplishment? My youngest son attended a certified Kindergarten program at a daycare and had a Kindergarten graduation. Again, absolutely adorable and appropriate since he was moving on to a big public elementary school for 1st grade. I may be in the minority with the “early” graduation ceremonies, but I absolutely love that I have pictures to commemorate that time in their lives. I’m actually looking forward to comparing there pre-k/K cap and gown photos to their high school graduation!
I don’t see how having a small pre-k or K graduation is over doing it … but trophies and awards for everyone just for participating? That I don’t agree with. I fail to see how you can compare the two.
I do agree that children are being set up for huge disappointment when they get older with this “everyone wins” attitude. And we are the mean parents that don’t cheat to let our child win at the board game.
I’m not a huge fan of trophies as I think they are a pain to store and just collect dust. I did appreciate the certificates my daughter got from dance and tball that both read she completed whatever year it was, she wasn’t a stand out star in either sport but I did appreciate and so did she that she had this certificate that shows she completed the year which is exactly what she did and even though she wasn’t a stand out in either if you watched her the first day and last day you could tell she had definitely improved tremendously which was a result from her hard work and the coaches determination. So that acknowledgment is nice and I got a similar certificate at the end of each of my varsity sports seasons in high school.
My daughter is 5 and is attending Kindergarten in the fall and I can honestly say I’m looking forward to her graduation ceremony at the end of the year. I didn’t think I would be one of “those” parents but I am. And I know that day it won’t be about my daughter just moving to 1st grade, it will be about the fact that she was a 26 weeker that was given an 80% chance of survival, the fact that she has no learning disabilities that they have found, that she survived a year away from the daycare she has known since she was a baby. I’m expecting bumps along the way to get to that graduation but getting through that year I think is reason for a celebration.
Kindergarten graduation’s are ridiculous. As someone commented: why celebrate the child getting older? don’t we have birthdays for that?
I completely agree!
I’m so thankful that our public school does not hold any kind of “graduation” ceremony for Kindergarten. Instead, they have an end-of-the-year carnival. And the 5th graders who are moving up into middle school have an end-of-the-year picnic. No cap and gown! Yay!
Add me to the masses that agree with you.
I am all for encouragement of effort as soem children struggle with different areas(reading, sports, etc.) and encouragement to continue is necessary, but I think that is the parent’s place to determine the encouragement. To celebrate a “graduation” from one grade to another seems too much to me. I worry about the moment when some children realize that not even all adults that graduate from college find jobs. Life isn’t fair, sometimes you have to take a second or third place and use it to better yourself.
Although, when my son heads to 1st grade, I will probably enjoy the graduation ceremony for the picture ops and the trip down memory lane.
I have to agree 100%!!! My oldest is a bookworm, she reads constantly and her goal this year was 1000 Accelerated Reader points. Did she meet her goal? Yes, she did. The school awarded her a nice plaque and a Sony e-reader. The grandparents were concerned that the youngest, who only read the minimum all year, didn’t receive anything.
That being said, I never missed a preschool or 5th grade graduation. I was proud that they were moving up another grade. I think that we are setting our kids up for a big let down when they do get to college and aren’t awarded for every little thing.
The 8th grade graduation, in our area, is a tradition back to days gone by.
We live in an agricultural area, so it was expected that when boys were old enough to help on the farm they would quit school. I know plently of old farmers, my FIL included, that have a 6th or 7th grade education. Most girls were married at 15-17 years old and were starting families, so there was no no need to go back to school. If you were fortunate enough to make it to 8th grade, there was a good chance it would be your only graduation.
So, tradition stuck. Our school doesn’t do caps and gowns, church clothes is the dress code. The Jr High band plays and there are words said by the class officers.
The 8th grade dance is what has changed the most and surprised me. When I was in school, they rented out the American LEgion and hired a DJ. You showed up in your shorts and drank punch and ate cookies. It was a good party to say goodbye to Jr High and hello to the brave new world of the High School.
This year I followed a limo to the 8th grade dance. (A limo!) The girls were dressed in prom dresses and the boys wore matching suits! What? My daughter is expecting the same sort of treatment next year so she doesn’t stand out! I can only blame parents for setting this standard.
And I have two kids that do sports. The drama I have seen in the past year by the parents has been absurd. My current belief is that sports would be so much better if it wasn’t for the parents. If Suzy can’t hit or catch, then she won’t be a starter. So, don’t sit in the bleachers cussing and yelling at the girls who are.
Ok – so after reading Heather’s post today, I actually had to go back to the top to see if Mike had written it. But no – it was actually Heather and I was a bit appalled! My daughter, who is about to be 10, has had a Kindergarten graduation. She’s also had a 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade “awards ceremony”. This year she had a 4th grade graduation because she is moving on to a new school – Intermediate School for 5th/6th. I personally feel that it’s a tribute to the child as well as the teacher & parents that the kids have accomplished something by completing the year. It’s a celebration of THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
During this year’s graduation, each child’s name was called and they were awarded their graduation medal as the principal spoke of THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENTS. And let me tell you – my kid had tons! Plus she was selected for the Gifted and Talented program for next year. Only kid in her class! Why not shout that from the rooftops and let everyone know??? Not to brag, but just because I am so proud – it hasn’t been the easiest road. I think I’m so “in” to these things because we DIDN’T have it when I was a kid (yes I’m old school too at 41), but that’s why I enjoy them, simply because I didn’t have anything “fancy” back in the day that celebrated my accomplishments. So, I will continue to attend whatever celebration, awards ceremony or graduation both of my kids are in attendance of and be proud that I had something to do with them being there.
Heather, I hope that once Annie is in school your views will change. Maybe at this time it’s because you don’t have that pride invested with it not being your own kid. But trust me….you will want it in the future and your parents will want it too.
P.S. It also helps keep my kid motivated. Makes her feel prety damn proud of herself too!
I totally agree. A party at the end of the year is fine, but cap and gowns for pre-school. Come on. The excitement is lost on the high school graduation, if the child has already had two or three. Parents need to realize the importance of “graduation”. My grandson struggled to get through high school, but we gave him the support and guidance and he made it. We were SO PROUD when he walked across the stage in his cap and gown!
I agree….and may I add this business of “not keeping score” at kid’s games is totally ridiculous.
Real world has evaded an entire generation.
Why wouldnt you want to celebrate your child end of kindergarten? Their very first year of elementary school? Or Middle School? When they go from pre-teens to full on teenagers? I go to my daughters promotions because as her mother I enjoy watching her grow.. promotions are just that. Seeing your child grow. The fact of the matter is that kids are encouraged by being praised for their accomplishments. Yes, in retrospect celebrating the passing of a grade is not that big of a deal… because we are adults. But to a 5 year old it is a big deal. My daughter is about to go from 1st grade to 2nd and she is so excited to done with her 2nd year of elementary. When she plays sports getting those meaningless trophies encourage her to come back next season and play better & practice harder. SO as adults, yes these things are stupid and meaningless but as children… they eat this stuff up. Its what motivates them. & it is a bit saddening that you expect kids not to be encouraged or just celebrated simply because in your day they didn’t do that. I am sure that in your day they also didn’t have blogs where your parents where saying how meaningless your advancements were but hey… whatever…. LOL
Amen Jackie! I feel the same way – I responded back up on #86.
I am a millennial student, so I am one of those people that have had graduation ceremonies for just about everything- kindergarten, 6th grade (although to be fair, my town doesn’t have a middle/high school so this was more about them sending us off into the wild and was called a ‘recognition ceremony’), 8th grade, high school, college, and graduate school (just last month- so graduation ceremonies are fresh in my mind). I don’t remember much at kindergarten graduation other than I got presents and cake- it was like an extra birthday! I would say that 6th grade was meaningful- I was at a very small school (class of 28 students), so we had all known each other since we were 6 and our teachers literally saw us grow up and had a large part in our lives, so that ceremony was meaningful- but again, it was called a recognition ceremony, there was no cap/gown or anything. Other than that- high school graduation was okay, and college graduation. I almost could do without the graduate graduation- and that was less than a month ago- yes I have a master’s, but at this point, do I need another graduation ceremony? Which I think is a bit sad because a master’s degree is a big accomplishment.
On top of the graduations, I also played sports where I got the all-important participation trophy (yay t-ball!), but I also played sports where I didn’t. I think it’s kind of nice in a sport like t-ball (we played where no one really won- everyone just played, so since there were no winners, everyone gets recognized), but I think as children get older, they need to start having realistic expectations and that starts with what they’re involved in. I’m torn on when to start this, because I kind of like the idea that everyone gets recognized when they’re little- to me it focuses on the fact that the game should be fun and isn’t about winning.
I agree. As kids get older, they need realistic expectations, but we should recognize everyone when they’re young.
It’s kind of funny that people think small children should know “how the real world works” when it comes to competition when so many of them believe in Santa or fairy tales…
I am also in total agreement! That’s why so many kids nowadays think that they’re entitled to everything, no one says NO anymore either. Oh how I yearn for the good old days when if your mother screamed your first and middle names in sucession, you were in big trouble, but you went and faced the music otherwise there was a spanking in store!
Oh, too far off topic – hehehe
Anyway, here in the great white north children no longer fail a grade, they get their un-educated butts pushed on to the next grade because the parents don’t want their children made fun of! Totally pathetic and not preparing any of them for what life has in store later in life!
Kindergarten graduations = totally lame! Who got honors in sand box and water table play? Oh wait, everyone!
Holla from another curmudgeon!
Rewards for participation are a different thing than a ceremony designed to celebrate a life-changing event. I do remember having graduation ceremonies in 6th and 9th when you changed schools. Not cap and gown stuff, but still a celebratory occasion to mark the passage of time and accomplishments over a few years. A preschool or kindergarten graduation is simply an extension of that idea, and makes sense if kids have been together a number of years and are moving on to a different place, where expectations will be greater.
I also think these “graduations” (perhaps closing or goodbye celebrations would be better) are not much different than other yearly celebrations that humans have created to mark the passage of time–New Year, birthdays, harvest festivals, Thanksgiving, and many religious holidays.
So relax, enjoy the ceremonies if you can, don’t go if you don’t.
But do say no to those participation ribbons and trophies!
Heather I think the topic is on a lot of parents minds. I just read a great article (via MissWhistle) in the Atlantic called How to Land Your Kids in Therapy. You can read it here: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1969/12/how-to-land-your-kid-in-therapy/8555/
If this box allows links! Seems to me you are on the right track. My niece just had her “5th Grade promotion” -when my son attended his Junior High Promotion they spent the entire time explaining that “THIS IS NOT A GRADUATION” which was a bit of a buzz kill at the time but was the plain and simple truth. And children can handle the truth.
C Los says:
Major fail on the part of the education system to see children “graduate”. High School, College, University OK not Kindergarden, PreK, 6th Grade, 8th Grade, etc…
All it is going to do is make them feel more inadequate when they get fired from their first job, or get cut from the sports team in High School or don’t make it to the NBA.
I am just saying that we as a society are setting up our children to fail. Moreover, we as parts who do not “allow” our children to participate in these faux accomplishments are wronged for doing so…
My girls are adults now, and Canadian, we didn’t do kinder graduation, and my parents didn’t even understand high school graduation, they felt the girls were just finishing what they had to do. There are a lot of expectations of this generation I don’t understand like kids with cell phones that don’t play outside and get all their clothes at baby design stores, why is there so many of those now? I always ordered kids clothes twice a year from the sears catalogue. I think parents are just extremely competitive now, and have to feel like their kids are the best, and thus need to be rewarded and honored, I think it could set them up for big dissapointment down the road.
Kristin (MamaKK922) says:
I one million % agree with you. Kids are being coddled far to much, they have no sense of purpose or achievement anymore. They don’t even have to work for anything anymore they get trophies for everything. I don’t think it’s right, we are make are children feel a sense of entitlement because they get everything anyway so why do they need to work for it. I feel it will only end in disaster. And I don’t like it no I don’t not one bit.
I totally agree with you! I see absolutely no sense in having preschool or kindergarten graduations. Even eighth grade graduation made no sense to me while I was going through it. All I could think is “it’s law that I have to go to school, I’m just going from one grade to the next, why all the fuss?”
High school graduation makes sense because it’s the end of a major phase of life. Not everyone will go on to continue their education, they may start working or join the military or peace corps, etc.
I’m graduating next summer with a degree in education and I have no intention of ever holding a graduation for my young students. (I don’t even have the slightest plan to go to my own college graduation. Most of the people I’ve been in class with are graduating a semester earlier and the last semester I’m in school I won’t physically be on campus in classes, I’ll be teaching.)
When I have my own children I hope to homeschool. I love that they’d get the opportunities to explore the world and learn through things such as cooking and taking care of a garden rather than just doing worksheets to learn the same skill. With homeschooling there will be no graduation every year. There will be a summer. Filled with trips to the zoo, camping, hanging out with friends and family, etc. I think that’s better than a graduation anyway.
I agree. I barely even wanted to go to my kids’ ‘graduations’ *eye roll*
I think those graduations are ridiculous, too. I’m glad to hear someone else say it. I didn’t “graduate” from kindergarten. Give me a break.
Heather K. says:
I agree with you. Kids can be spoiled and expect too much in this generation.
BUT… I think the difference is, not all kids are this way. Even though our society thinks everyone needs a medal, or a trophy or to be recognized, so that we don’t have “hurt feelings”. Parents need to raise/teach their kids that’s not the way the real world works. Otherwise these poor kids are in for big disappointments later in life, when they realized that you’ve gotta work your butt off to get anywhere!
I was going to post the link to the Atlantic article, but I see I was beaten to the punch. It echos a good deal of the sentiment of this post, Heather. My own 5 year old just “graduated” from Pre-K last week: they performed some songs for their families in shirts with Class of 2011 and black Class of 2011 visors. I thought that was overkill; some parents COMPLAINED to the administration because there was not a cap and gown ceremony and professional photography. They also brought “way to go, grad!” balloons to the event. Whatever. Not my style of parenting, and I think my kids will kiddos will learn some good lessons about the way the world works.
Heather, I have to agree with you! As a school teacher, I’ve found that we’re rewarding the kids to death for EVERYTHING!–stickers, extra recess, even rewarding parents with breakfast for GETTING YOUR KID TO SCHOOL. what the??????
two years ago i was on maternity leave and had a wonderful sub take my class over (i teach elementary art, so i have roughly 700 kids that filter through my room each week). she was wonderful, but rewarded the kids for totally insignificant things, like closing the glue bottles, picking up THEIR scraps off the floor, etc. Upon my return, I had a little boy come up to me and hold his hand out. I asked him what he wanted…and he said “you see, not ONLY did I close the glue bottle, but I put it away where it belongs. i’ll take my skittle, please”.
HUHHHHH???? She was rewarding them for putting the glue away in it’s proper place? I must be the meanest teacher on the planet because I refuse to reward for such stupid things.
I am, however, totally bribing my kid currently with matchbox cars so he’ll pee on the pot. Details, right?!
Totally agree with you Heather! Yes, they’re adorable in the cap and gown, but what kind of expectation is this setting? To me, graduation is a milestone, an accomplishment, not something handed to someone for well, showing up. And the trophies for everyone—don’t even get me started. It’s the sense of entitlement…and it’s already out of control.
YES. Thank you Heather, this post was so refreshing to read. My husband is a teacher at an elementary school and he is constantly faced with kids who feel entitled to everything. His students wine when they don’t get top grades on their report cards, or when they have to re-do their half-assed homework assignments. He’s trying hard to instill a work ethic in his students, but it is such a struggle when they’ve had everything handed to them on a silver platter. Hard work should be rewarded, you shouldn’t be showered with praise for just showing up.
His school just had their Grade 9 graduation, complete with students taking limos to the school, a graduation processional, everyone in suits, tuxes and grad dresses, a valedictorian speech, a banquet and then a dance. UM, it’s only grade 9! They’re going to be so bored at their Grade 12 grad, the grad that actually matters, because they already did it all in Grade 9! It makes no sense to me.
My kids graduate/d from Kindergarten, fifth grade, eighth grade and high school. A few years ago, they reconfigured the regional schools, so they attended K – 2 in one town and 3 – 5 in the other. They graduated from second grade then too, because they were moving on to the other school. What do I think? Graduation should be held upon completion of high school. My parents would be happier too. They will be here, in CT, next Monday for my son’s fifth grade graduation. The next day, they will go to NY for my nephew’s eigth grade graduation. They won’t return home to MA until next Saturday, after attending my other nephews graduation from high school.
I think I agree. My oldest is almost 21 and has just sat his final final for his Bachelor’s degree, all being well he will have passed and his graduation day is set for 22nd of July. This will be his first graduation and he will have earned it. He has worked through primary school (up to 11), comprehensive (11-16) and college (16-18) as well as the three years of his degree.
The only thing that came close were leaving assemblies at primary and comprehensive, that was it.
I think the little kids look cute and it is nice to commemorate their time in one place of learning and the move to the next but I think calling it graduation and having gowns is a bit much. It doesn’t make the real thing special, if there have been loads before.
Just my thought, but then I’m also curmudgeonly and British.
amy vw says:
I am right there with you. I think all this graduating from K to 1st, 5th to middle, etc. is nuts. When my oldest “graduated” from middle school a year ago, she was ridiculously pissed at us that we did not throw her a big party or buy her some insanely expensive gift or take her on a big trip like a lot of her friends families did. I was like “dude…talk to me when you’ve graduated high school or college! THEN we’ll celebrate big”. A friend of mine recently posted pix of her son “graduating” from kindy, complete with cap and gown. And yeah, super cute. But…..really?!?
I just feel like we pat them on the head and offer rewards way too often these days for things that back in my day (you know, in the stone ages of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s) we did because we were (GASP!) expected to. No one gave me a trip to Cancun for making it out of 8th grade alive. Nor did I score an expensive piece of jewelry. I just DID IT and moved on. My school did not even have a special assembly. We did the normal awards assembly that morning for the whole school, and the kids in my grade who were moving on were given a book of the state papers of New Jersey by the Board of Ed. (OOOH!). And that was that.
I also hate that the elementary kids are rewarded for everything with candy now (at least in our school….hopefully it is not like this everywhere). Walk quietly down the hall! Skittles for you! Sit attentively at your seat and don’t act like a jerk? Tootsie Roll! Make it all week without being reprimanded or getting your name on the bumpy road? You get to pick from the prize jar (which contains blow pops, airheads, etc., etc.). My 9 year old jumps into my car every Friday with a stash in her backpack like she’s just gone trick or treating. I hate it.
So no. You are not alone.
Heather, I agree with you. I’ve donned a cap and gown twice: high school and undergraduate school. When I finish graduate school, I will put on that cap and gown one more time. It means something to graduate – to mark completion of that portion of your education. I believe children are growing up with unreal expectations (this – coming from a spoiled only child). I have a friend who, in conjunction with the other moms, rents a stretch limo for her daughter and friends for the last day of school. Really?
I know I’m way different than everone else but I respectfully disagree.
Why? Because you never know what is goong to happen. Seeing your little one beaming at a graduation sets the stage for school being FUN! Bwecause you know what? Life is hard for kids today. And yes, I honestly think that.
A personal story. When my brother was 5 he graduated from kindergarten.
It was the last time he ever had fun at school. My mom treasured that picture of him smiling and proud of himself.
I guess I’m different but I just disagree with everyone else.
mindy b. says:
Certainly a fair perspective, and a good point, Amanda! It’s true – you don’t ever know what’s going to happen.
I had a graduation from Preschool or Kindergarten, cannot remember which one, so it obviously had a huge impact on my life. I do remember that the gowns were paper and scratchy, and the hate was cardboard and looked awful on me. More vividly I remember being marched from kindergarten all of 10 feet next door into the first grade classroom where we were told our education was now a serious matter, and that we did not get nap times anymore. I was devastated. In softball we got trophies every season if our team parents remembered to get them. If you made allstars then it became the trophies only for the top 3 teams. With my team we got trophies most years, except for the year we had a team mom and her girlfriend make us dog tags instead. I felt after a season of dealing with parents yelling at each other in the stands, other kids parents yelling at you when you messed up, everyone yelling at the umps, and the occasional drunk homeless guy who would wander onto the fields and cause nice long delays, that I had earned each and every one of those trophies no matter how few games we won. Plus they made a nice stand to hang necklaces on.
mindy b. says:
Certainly a fair perspective, and a good point, Amanda! It’s true – you don’t ever know what’s going to happen.
Really? We want kids to know what “the real world” is like at the age of 5 so we don’t celebrate them moving from kindergarten to 1st grade? Give me a break. Why should we celebrate birthdays then? most workplaces won’t have cupcakes and hats on your birthday so celebrating those in elementary/middle school is “setting a kid up to feel entitled”. Are we really that grouchy?
Also, holy competitive batman. There is a time and place for participation ribbons. A rec league where the kids are having fun and get a ribbon/trophy because heaven forbid they dont keep SCORE? Or little kids who really are trying but aren’t coordinated/as physically gifted as those on the other teams? Why is it bad to acknowledge their attempt? I’m not talking about middle and high school age where they can rationalize that yes in sports there are winners and losers…but come on. Sports are supposed to also be fun fun.
I am not saying that kids arent over indulged, but kids deserve.to be.kids. It is hard becoming an adult and going out on your own whether or not you wore a cap and gown in kindergarten or got a trophy even if you didn’t win.
Exactly what I was thinking!!!
My son just graduated from pre-k, but his school is a developmental and early intervention center for kids with various delays. My son entered not speaking and now is advanced…so we felt like celebrating. We are also terrified of grade school where it counts and there are transcripts, labels, and grades! Yikes!
So, not every preschool experience is average…but that said, I also work with college students who do seem to believe they can earn a great grade for just showing up. Some don’t even do that and then their mothers call and flip out that we didn’t do enough to help them. What happened to helping yourself? Even my 5 year-old had to help himself get to where he is.
Rachel Langer says:
I’m pretty sure curmudgeons are never self aware enough to wonder if they are curmudgeons, so you’re good on that count.
I’m with you on this also. Although I did have a kindgergarten grad, I had to make my own freakin’ hat out of construction paper. If that doesn’t earn you a cookie and a little pomp and circumstance, what does.
The trophy thing is just ridiculous. Life is competitive. I failed at university because my expectations of how competitive things were had been grossly underdeveloped, and I’m 28 now. It’s only getting worse.
Good on you for having the (lady) balls to post this!
I wanted to respond to the commenter Megan@ June 15, 2011 5:35, who thinks parents are being too coddling when they film newbie figure skaters. When I filmed my kids’ first sports lessons, the point wasn’t to REWARD them for anything. The point was to document the very beginning of something hard. Someday we can look at the videos and pics of falling down snowy hills or bellyflopping in the pool and appreciate all the practice and hard work that went into mastering those activities. They’ll be able to see for themselves what progress they’ve made from where they started.
This isn’t the same as giving kids a sticker-covered diploma for a fake achievement. I think filming young kids at sports can actually be part of the process of learning about what REAL achievement is.
I agree with you about the skater lady comments. If she was a “figure skater” then practice earlier or when kids aren’t out there having FUN! I’m sure she was the same when she first started skating too. Parents want to document those precious moments.
Well, having been through preschool graduation twice with my two girls, they were both very proud of themselves and what they accomplished. Yes, it seems kind of silly, but my daughter never saw the kids in her preschool again and she’s been diagnosed with some behavior problems, so making it through was tough, and it gives them the feeling of accomplishment. Remember, it’s about them, not you.
Had you written this about 3 years ago, I would have COMPLETELY disagreed with you. My kids have gone, through the pre-school (cap and gown) & kindergarten (no cap & gown just a certificate) graduations and I LOVED every minute of it, after all they were sooo freakin adorable!
They are now going into 3rd & 5th grade and they have also played countless sports… and I DO mean countless…. At the end of our baseball season this year, my son had 14 trophies and 3 medals….14+3=17!!!! That’s crazy… I have like 1… ( I sucked at sports). He has been on some great teams, and has earned about half of them by getting first or second place but now I feel like we are always playing the “one up it” battle. Ex: he gets a trophy but now he has to get something special for being in first place also, so he gets an additional medal, or a ring… or an extra trophy?? Where does it end?? My 10 year old has a super bowl ring, because his team won the pop warner Super Bowl 2 years ago great! but how do you top a Super Bowl ring??
All kidding aside, this has majorly effected our son, he is 10 years old and expects to be rewarded for EVERYTHING he does, homework, cleaning his room, putting away his clothes, making his bed… I told him to take a shower and he said “what will you give me”? (for the record, I told him a swat on the butt if he doesn’t…)
I never realized, until this year, how much those graduations and added trophies effected their everyday lives, and how much we allowed those extra rewards to overflow into our home. Since we have become aware that we are rewarding more and punishing less.. my husband and I made choice to go back to our old days. When they are not doing as they are told, they are grounded, and things are taken away. The hardest part was letting them get upset and cry… but we did… and we are still here.
Since we can’t stop little leagues from handing out trophies, or our local pre-schools from having graduation. My one piece of advise would be, don’t allow it to overflow into your home… because it’s a nightmare to clean up that mess.
My kids are still young. 2 Girls ages 3 and 4 and I’m home with them. I guess I need more time to come to hate this stuff, because I think it’s fine. You shouldn’t take anything too seriously at this age, in my humble opinion. As far as why these events emerged, I part of it is because we want our kids to know they are indeed special for just being themselves. At these early ages, that is true! They don’t need to accomplish anything, just be.
My recollection of growing up is that there was a ton of judgment along the way. Soccer try outs, grades, school play casting, etc. I certainly got a chance to realize what I was good at, and more so what I was not. A lot of times it hurt!! I think there is nothing wrong with arming your kids (in the early years) with some idea that they are special. With the graduation recognition, they are gaining a sense that education is important. I feel a good association with the graduation cap from early childhood, could work well when it comes to striving for accomplishment in the later academic years. Now, talk to me in 5 or 6 years and maybe I’ll be burning all the trophies in the backyard fire pit. For now, I’ll take the praise for my babies.
Ali, I bet you’ll treasure those trophies! I love what you wrote, “I think there is nothing wrong with arming your kids (in the early years) with some idea that they are special. With the graduation recognition, they are gaining a sense that education is important.” I completely agree. Heading off to first grade IS a big deal, and they end they their kindergarten year with a sense of accomplishment.
Dude, yes! Exactly.
This post really resonated today. I am an elementary school librarian and today a fourth grade student returned a book that was months overdue. I thanked him and commented how glad I was that he had found it. He asked me what he would get for returning his overdue book. I managed not to snort and repeated my thanks. Yes some kids are over rewarded for doing the basics.
Legally Fabulous says:
100% with you. Kindergarten graduation is ABSURD.
I absolutely agree with you. I believe that trophies, praise, etc., should be earned. The first thing that popped into my mind when I read your post was visiting with my niece about three years ago. Her baby was maybe a year and a half old at that time and was sitting on her lap “coloring.” Every time he made a mark on the paper, it was “good job.” When he handed me a crayon, “good job.” When he handed his mother a crayon, “good job.” When he wanted a different crayon, “good job.” Every.single.thing he did was “good job.” It got to the point where I wanted to scream.
Totally agree with you. I think kids should only be rewarded for things they earn. The only winner in sports in the one who performed the best. There’s one valedictorian, one president, one gold medalist. Everyone achieves in life by working hard, not quitting, having solid support systems, and following natural talent. The whole concept of ‘everyone is a winner’ is just crap. Everyone has different places they excel. No one is going to be good at everything they do. Why tell children they will be?! I hate to say the cliche of “kids these days…” but if I had to sum it up in one word, it’d be spoiled.
What you said Kristal is what I was going to say! I think it’s less about the little graduations/promotions (I think thats fine and cute to celebrate with the little ones) and more about kids realizing that you do have to work hard to get to great places and you must work hard to get great rewards. I have an aquaintance who gives her kids extravagant presents for finishing a school year…. I was raised that going to school and doing well was MY JOB.. it was an expectation, like helping to clean the house on Saturday mornings before we could go out to play or helping with the dishes after dinner without getting (gasp) an allowance. Hardwork did come with rewards, but they were definitely rewards and not handed out willy-nilly.
I’m a pre-k teacher and my kids just had a graduation ceremony since they’re all starting kindergarten at new schools next year. I’m not a big fan at all of big celebrations like this over routine things, but after seeing what a big deal it was for my students to say goodbye to their first school ever, where many of them had been since they were babies, I understood the importance of having a ceremony to mark this big transition in their lives. They didn’t dress up in caps and gowns, just contributed some quotes about what they had learned at school, what they would miss, and what they hoped to learn at their new school which were read at the ceremony. They also saw photos of themselves from their time at school. Many of them cried during the ceremony and later said it was really hard to leave their school behind. Transitions can be important enough to kids to need a celebration to mark them, if done appropriately and under the right circumstances (not every year).
I think the whole graduations are a milestone for the kids. End of school year party etc.
Trophy’s I believe are given as a “thank you” for being part of the team and to motivate team sportsmanship.
I don’t agree with that bs that if the kid can not pass the credentials in elementary school from grade to grade they continue to “move them along” so that they won’t fall behind of their age group and peers, without being able to read, comprehend or do the math?! Obviously that sets the kid up for failure and frustrations.
But it is what it is and I think every family has their own beliefs and has to guide their own children for the real world. One step at a time.
Dudge OH says:
I have to agree, but then I’m from the UK, where the only graduation ceremony one is (or at last was, things may have changed in the 11 years I’ve been in the USA) likely to receive during one’s academic career is when one gets their Bachelor’s.
I’m TOTALLY with you.
(that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see my kid in a cap and gown though, and fully expect me to complain about how costly it is.)
I wish al these people were in my town so we could make an entire school of families that agree with you. When my son was in karate, EVERYBODY won… all the kids got medals. I disagree! There is 1st 2nd 3rd and if we must, 4th… leave it at that? It should be incentive to practice harder!
Heck this year he’s in HIGH SCHOOL football, and you know what, there aren’t tryouts and there aren’t cuts! HUH? So if 100 kids are there, they all get to play even if they are horrible?
It’s not right and we are setting our kids up… our FUTURE business men and women…. for serious disappointment. No you can NOT blow off an assignment at work and no your boss will NOT give you a homework pass (this is in 9th grade!!!)!!!
Seriously?! High school football?! Honestly, I hope most of the kids are bench warmers (none of this “everyone gets to play” nonsense), because some of those gifted and skilled few are relying on football to finance their college education!
For those parents who don’t have a daily blog to celebrate their child’s every milestone, kindergarten graduation is a nice event. It’s maybe an hour in the child’s life.
I don’t know. I did the whole little kid graduation thing. I don’t think at 4 or 5 it really had an impact, but I love looking at the pictures now. Getting a trophy without winning did not give me the false impression of being awesome. I liked playing sports, but I did not like the competitiveness with them. I had realized after awhile that I would not be getting any better, but the pressure to win would increase. I liked getting a trophy because it marked me getting through another season. This did not make me think in life I can just suck at something and it is ok. If anything I learned that I would excel at some things, not at others, but that it is important to stick with commitments and put in the work to reach my full potential. I excelled academically through high school, and a good college and not until I took the LSAT did I finally bomb a test. After retaking it and getting into a law school that was not my first choice I was still happy because I learned before it was ok to be happy for myself even if I wasn’t number 1. I also think I would have liked a trophy for passing the bar, because that would look cooler than a stupid piece of paper.
I tend to disagree here. I teach at graduate-school level, and also see entitlement amount students today. However, I don’t think graduations are the reason. Those aren’t ‘trophies,’ those are celebrations of finishing a chapter in life, even if kindergarten. I agree that “everyone gets a trophy” is a problem, but that is not the equivalent of a graduation.
Nah, I totally agree with you – celebrating EVERYTHING makes the important things less special!
The only trophy I ever got was for participating in a summer gymnastics program when I was 7. Then I got a medal for honor roll in 8th grade. Thats IT.
Celebrate the really awesome stuff! The other cool stuff, like kindergarten graduation, warrants a happy dance
As far as I can see kindergarten graduations are only detrimental to those who have to sit through them. I had a preschool graduation… which I don’t remember.
As for the participation-trophy haters, I say stick it.
It may look like treating everyone the same is teaching children to celebrate mediocrity. But let me tell you, that is not always the case. Growing up I was a quiet middle child, and often overlooked. I never stepped out of line and never did anything wrong, therefore I was forgotten, a lot. Teachers NEVER picked me as “most improved” and I was never captain in gym class. I spent most of my childhood invisible. But every spring I got a participation-trophy in gymnastics, I wasn’t forgotten. It made me think for once someone noticed there was something good in me. I felt I earned that trophy, not that it was an ego boost. I went to every class, and often practiced out of class. I worked hard on recitals and didn’t mess them up.
I may be the odd case, but just think, if to most of the children, who are lazy and “don’t deserve” the recognition, there is probably one child on the team who really does. What about the child who works hard, does their job and just never ends up on the winning team?
Yeah, I’m totally on team Heather. But to think of it in the perspective that this is probably the only graduation a lot of parents will ever see………I guess it’s for them.
I think that graduation ceremonies when you leave a school are ok. After all, you are graduating from that school. But graduating from one grade to the next is overkill, and not really graduating in the sense of a school graduation.
THANK YOU!! I had never heard of kindergarten or 8th grade graduation until I moved to where I live now. And I HATE the 8th grade graduation. I’m sorry, there is no reason you should be congratulated for passing middle school with a ceremony and parties where MONEY IS EXPECTED. Are you kidding me??
That being said, 6 year olds do look cute in those little gowns and hats.
Oh, I think it’s just a matter of time before there is a graduation ceremony for every grade.
I remember my aunt and uncle had a HUGE party for my cousin when he graduate from eighth grade. I also remember that as my mother popped open a can of soda, she said something like, “this is ridiculous”—something I would have never expected her to say.
Well, my cousin then went to jail a few years later and never graduated high school. Coincidence? I think not.
Well I’m going to be unpopular and say that I completely disagree with your post. I actually re-read it several times and I honestly don’t even understand where you are coming from. In your blog you make such a big deal about your birthday and other holidays yet you are being so negative about little league trophies or a Kindergarten graduation. I don’t know…I just don’t get it.
I was worried when I saw the title….I agree with you and was debating how I will handle it when my kids get to be that age. Let them graduate or not? Like the BEP (Love me Black Eyed Peas)….there is such a NOW generation that has not been taught to wait and savor. How can we reverse it??
I haven’t read through all of the replies, but I’d be surprised if someone didn’t mention the book “Nurture Shock” yet – and if they haven’t you should check it out. Changed my views on parenting for sure. Our book group read it and there was a woman in a group from Germany who was essentially like “what in the hell would they even need to write a book like this for? Kids would never be raised like this in Germany”. No idea if that’s overgeneralizing or not – but clearly some people think American kids need to be taught a few lessons on life.
I didn’t read all the comments but judging by the first 50 I’m going to be the sole dissenter about kindergarten graduations here
One definition of graduate, according to freedictionary.com, is “To advance to a new level of skill, achievement, or activity.” Personally, I was super proud of my kindergarten daughter this year. She learned to read, do math, play piano, even tie her shoes! She and her classmates worked hard to prepare a performance for the parents to show what they’ve learned. They deserved a little celebration, and I was happy and proud to celebrate her achievements.
I can’t stand them! I graduated from college in 2010 and it was one of the proudest moments of my life because, for four years, I worked crazily hard, had a lot of sleepless nights, spent most of my life either attached to a computer or textbook, and overall worked my booty off. I loved my graduation ceremony.
Now, when a kid in Pre-K or K gets the same pomp and circumstance? I’m a little miffed. It’s not that they didn’t accomplish anything, they did, they learned and grew. But those are what kids are SUPPOSED to do. I feel that these kiddie graduations cheapen the real deal graduations.
Oh yes! Let’s celebrate mediocrity!! It’s ridiculous.
Amy Collen says:
Heather, my friend, we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Now granted before my kids were born I agreed with you on a lot of this. I thought giving out trophies to all the kids or no competition at all but cheering everyone on was kind of crazy too.
Until I became the mom of a micropreemie child.
This changed me in every way. We celebrate every milestone and every accomplishment. From the time my son was taken off a ventilator to the moment when he could actually walk (at 2 years 2 months).
When my son graduated from his Early Intervention pre-pre school (as I like to call it since he graduated when he was 3) I bawled like a baby. When he graduated from preschool I bawled like a baby. When he tries so hard to keep up with the typical kids while playing soccer (even though he still can’t run at 4 years old?), I cheer him on and sniffle all the way.
Do I think competition is healthy? Yes. Do I think there is too much competition in this world? Definitely. I think it is important to support those kids who don’t always get picked first for teams, who aren’t always the fastest runners, and especially those with special needs who have to work that much harder to keep up (or try to keep up) to their typical/average peers.
And you can bet every time one of my kiddos gets a trophy, certificate, or pat on the back for something, their proud mama will be standing there cheering them on with a box of Kleenex.
Now, I don’t spoil my kids. Not by any means. What I am though is their biggest cheerleader and their best audience :). If that means that they get a little too much praise once in awhile then so be it :).
Fête Foreign says:
I’m all for a little end of the year shindig, but a graduation??? That’s just a tad ridiculous at that age. Not only do they not really understand the meaning of it beyond our applause and adulation, but it kind of cheapens the event for those who are graduating after a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
Along those same lines, and starting with my own children, this generation seems to have increasing difficulty dealing with . . . .boredom. It’s like it shouldn’t exist and mom and dad have to have a constant 3-ring circus going on to keep their expectations for fun and happiness met.
Modern life is good, but we still have to teach our kiddos the simple pleasures. Lie in the grass, look up at the sky and tell me what that cloud looks like to you . . .
As someone who works in a public school and is married to a schoolteacher, I could not agree with you MORE. It is ridiculous. Parents who see things the way you do are the only reason we ever catch a break. Generally the other ones, who want to celebrate every single milestone and who think that their children can do no wrong, have their heads so far up in the clouds and won’t let their kids take responsibility for anything.
Example: I handle truancy for a school and build and turn over serious cases to our district attorney. It’s my job to inform a parent when a student is not in school and to verify the absence. I had one father–of an aforementioned do-no-wrong, not-responsible-for-anything student–accuse me of letting his child be kidnapped from our school because there was NO WAY he was skipping school. None at all. You can guess who got to look like an idiot when he called the police to report a kidnapping from the school.
This is an extreme example, but I believe that it’s directly related to our “everybody wins” mentality that we are instilling in these kids. Not only are they growing up and believing that, but their parents seem to be self-brainwashing as well because they eventually end up in this same mentality. Combine that with the fact that if they THINK their kid MIGHT have a problem then they just take them to a therapist or get them prescribed anti-psychotics, well, it makes for a real fun time, let me tell you.
In an effort to make everyone special, they have made nothing special. I mean, lets just celebrate everyone all the time, so no one and nothing is special. Ugh.
Lacey Anderson says:
Everyone gets an honorable mention these days. Honorable mention means you lost. We are doing our kids no favors by celebrating their every move. What is to keep them motivated to try to be their best if they are rewarded for every move they make?
Brianne Hurd says:
I think that it is important to have some kind of celebration at the end of kindergarten to make the transition from kindergarten (which is primarily play) to grade one easier and exciting rather then scary. However, I think a full graduation for that age is a bit much. I didn’t have anything like that when I was 5. BUT I just had my own graduation from university yesterday with a degree in Education and I am excited to celebrate the end of the year with my future students (but maybe not with mini gowns and hats…..)
I love that you said something about this, because I’ve been secretly rolling my eyes every time one of my co-workers talks about their preschooler’s graduation or something equally silly. We celebrate every. damn. thing. kids do nowadays and I honestly don’t see the benefit. We get cake and the kids get a sense of entitelement, and we could probably do without both of those things
I think it was pushed by party supply and graduation companies for money. This year we have a pre-k, 5th and 8th grade graduation. Ridiculous. None of it counts until you complete university or high school, whichever is your highest.
Funny you posted this, because I was just talking to my Mom about this yesterday! We were talking about how there wasn’t such a thing as “graduation” when I finished kindergarten. I worked in Daycare/Preschool for 10 years & we never had any kind of graduation ceremony! I say… save it for graduating from High School!
Well: I think a kindergarten graduation is more for the parents than the kids. It’s your child’s first real accomplishment. But I do understand why you think it’s silly.
I don’t see anything wrong with a graduation for kids who are going from Elementary School to Jr. High School (which is what I experienced). Because going from Elementary School to Jr. High School is a huge deal. Kids aren’t just little kiddies anymore, even though they’re just two to three grades older than the six graders (in elementary. As it was in my case). There’s kind of a culture-shock, progressing from one stage to another, in this case. If that makes any sense. And graduating from Jr. High School to High School…? An even bigger difference (culture shock), so I think it should be acknowledged. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
Now people with four to five kids…? I could see how it would be a bit of a handful. Having to figure out graduation outfit costs, and fees for other things. But that’s PART of parenting.
Getting a trophy in Little League for every level? That IS ridiculous! That I’ll agree with you.
I’m a teacher, and I used to think preschool graduations were dumb… until my twins had one. Then I was a bowl of mush. Just sayin’.
I do not agree at all.
I work at a preschool filled with young children that often start at the age of 2, but can enroll in our infant program which begins as young as six weeks -though up until a year its just basic learning. A few children in my care have autism or another mentally challenging disorder. All of my children work hard, some more than others. Many do not have parents that work with them, and about four are foster kids that have nothing to call their own. Seeing them struggle for years, towards something that is their own achievement is very spectacular and the look on their faces is priceless because when they graduate they are going to the big school with bigger kids.
I don’t understand why people find this out to be a big stupid idea because life is very short, one day we can be here and the next we can be gone. My dad died unexpectedly four years ago, one minute he was sitting in the hospital bed happy and the next there was police banging on the door of my home because he died alone at the hospital waiting to come home the next day. He raved about my little sisters preschool graduation because unlike what all these teachers posting here say…she worked hard to earn it. He won’t see her graduate high-school and he won’t walk her down the isle, so she relishes each and every memory he is in.
I think that’s the problem with teachers these days. They don’t try to help the kids, they are too easy to judge and rant about what the kid can or cannot do..and the families. I see it in my workplace and I read it here. Make them work hard for awards so one cannot complain about handing it all to them. They all do something special. Give them credit and help them become better people, not critics like everyone else.
And I say this not about anyone specific, I see it daily. A child in my class learned to spell her name for the first time. She requires extra teaching because she just cannot focus, when she did spell her entire name she was thrilled and received a sticker. Her mother told her it wasn’t a big deal and the look on her face crushed me.
I think the business of getting a trophy every year in Little League has been going on for a lot longer than you think. …Which is say, I definitely got a trophy every single year. (I’m currently twenty-three.) The thing was, you could only get the really nifty trophies if your team placed in the top three. Otherwise, you were stuck with the generic trophy. I remember mainly being distressed by the fact that I frequently got stuck with a dude on top of my trophy. Such was the woe of being the only girl at my level for a number of the years. (Basically, all of the other girls switched the softball, while I stayed in the camp of BASEBALL IS BETTER.)
Thank you, this post was so refreshing to read. My wife is a teacher at an elementary school and she is constantly faced with kids who feel entitled to everything. Her students wine when they don’t get top grades on their report cards, or when they have to re-do their half-assed homework assignments. She’s trying hard to instill a work ethic in his students, but it is such a struggle when they’ve had everything handed to them on a silver platter. Hard work should be rewarded.