Preschool Graduation

First of all, it’s a celebration! Congratulations, my little one! A new phase of life will unfold underneath your feet as you march forward. You go, girl! Continue to be your active, brave, brilliant, bright, confident, creative, intense, happy-go-lucky self! And keep learning and having fun!

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I, too, am looking forward to evolving forward with you in a growing mother-daughter relationship. You have demonstrated a healthy and continuing desire for and growth of independence, which will usher us into more new types of activities and fun. On the one hand, you crave for it; on the other hand, you come back to wanting to be a baby cuddled up in my arms. I respect this spiral, knowing that it is going upward, and welcome the many shapes and forms of your growing up. Our body and mind have many needs and experience many feelings; yet our hearts know only love. Let’s walk hand in hand.

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It’s interesting that yesterday before the graduation ceremony, I read another blog somewhere about “why the fuss for a preschooler’s graduation” and “how it’s not like they’ve studied hard to earn a degree.” You know what? I couldn’t disagree more!

Who is to say that these little kids have not put out any effort? Sure, it is all playing in the eyes of an adult who seldom empathizes and marvels at a young life’s achievement. But have you ever seen, truly seen, your child? The first 5 or 6 year of their life, they learned to walk and run by 1.5. They learned to be fully fluent in one language around 2; and if they are bilingual or multilingual, they are fluent probably by 3. They learned to eat properly with reasonably good manners by 4. They learned to use the restroom completely by themselves around that time, too. They are increasingly aware of themselves and their own abilities and are more and more independent at an accelerated speed. They are learning social skills and are thrilled to work in groups. They learned the alphabet and the numbers. They learned simple sight words. They learned the simplest concept of science and technology. They sing, they dance, they have started sports, they love arts… They have accomplished so much in such a short few years!

And we wonder why they cry and throw tantrums? Well, as I’m typing right now, I’ve realized that all of the above could be part of the why — although, developmentally, their brain is still immature and growing, just like the rest of their body.  Of course I will still teach (or learn together with) my daughter how to manage big emotions. But I mean, just imagine — you’re trying to navigate an increasingly bigger world as you discover it and learn so much with an immature brain and a tiny body that are constantly growing and changing! They are all little super heroes. Now that’s worth celebrating!

A pedagogical reason for celebrating a preschooler’s graduation? For the child, it is self-esteem, self-image, self-confidence, and self-recognition of achievements. The ritual, the flowers received, and especially the flowers/gifts presented to teachers help the child to appreciate his/her education and fun, feel truly thankful to the teachers/school, and build up understanding of the dynamics of social activities and relationships. It is also a way to acknowledge the teacher’s effort, kindness, and achievements, a great opportunity to express true thankfulness. Parents can feel proud of themselves, too! It may have felt like a long way to come thus far — positive and responsible parenting isn’t always easy. So, it’s time to pat yourself on the back, too. What a great time for family, friends, teachers, kids, and school admin to come together in a short, no-nonsense hour and feel great!

More importantly, graduation is a starting point — that’s probably why college graduation is called “commencement” — a new starting point where one sets foot on new grounds and discover new horizons, however young or old one is.

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For everything that happens, there’s always a good way to see it and a great way to take the opportunity as a “teachable moment” for your child and maybe even yourself.  A preschooler’s graduation is definitely one. Congrats to my little one and all the little ones who are graduating and looking ahead to a bright future!

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