Why we should still celebrate kindergarten graduation

With the anti-coddling movement well underway, families should get together to celebrate a child's early milestones—like kindergarten graduation.

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Photo: iStockphoto

Tomorrow is Irene’s graduation from senior kindergarten and I am stoked. Yep, full disclosure: I think it’s sweet.

I still remember my own SK graduation, construction-paper caps, orange “drink” in little Dixie cups and all. It felt like a big deal to me. I was proud and excited to move on to grade one. It’s a big change for little kids as the emphasis shifts from play-based learning to more and more desk time. A little ceremony helps to make it feel more special than scary.

Read more: 5 things I wish I knew before my kids started grade one>

But man, do some people ever disagree with me. The anti-mollycoddling movement is alive and well. Their voice is represented in blog and Facebook posts around the world. (But The Huffington Post comment section is where they seem to truly come alive.)

Must we make a big fuss for everything our children do, no matter how dubious the accomplishment? For merely aging out of kindergarten?

Yes! Of course we don’t have to, but if we can? If we can get it together to celebrate a few of those early milestones, why on earth would we not? Because, contrary to popular belief, most kids aren’t being celebrated all day, every day. They are shuttled to and from school, daycare and extracurriculars, plopped in front of TVs and iPads while dinner is made and 95 percent of their artwork goes directly into the recycling bin. I don’t think there’s such a thing as too much love and attention in the first place, but even if there were, that threshold is a far cry from where most of us are standing. If ever an occasion called out for a juice box, cupcake and Xeroxed certificate, then kindergarten graduation is it. My kids won’t have another one for eight years, so I say right on.

But did you know they give every player a trophy at the end of the season? How are kids ever going to learn the value of hard work if we pretend there are no winners and losers?

Read more: Why your kids need to lose>

Did I miss the studies that demonstrate a causal connection between six-year-olds receiving participation trophies and future success in life? I assume there must be some sort of concrete evidence, something tangible that points to serious risks of future harm. Otherwise, why would anyone be opposed to kids getting trophies?! My son has received a trophy for every year that he played hockey and I can tell you that after waking up at 6 a.m. on Sunday mornings for three years in a row, our whole damn family deserves trophies. But the little kids who are trying to have fun out there week after week—especially the ones that struggle, the losers among them—really do earn a little recognition. It can make the difference between playing or not playing, between a lifelong love of sports and exercise or a lifetime of sitting it out. And, whatever, they like it!

By some miracle of the Virgin Mary or something, my son’s team actually won their house league division last year and he was named Most Improved Player. That trophy, the one with CHAMPION etched in it, means a whole lot more. The kids still know when they win or lose, it’s just nice to make sure everybody gets something.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to gush over my two-year-old’s scribbles and choose a dress for our senior kindergarten grad. My poor spoiled rotten, mollycoddled kids.

This article originally appeared on Playground Confidential (June 24, 2014).

Rebecca Cuneo Keenan is a Toronto-based freelance writer and mom blogger. Her writing has appeared in Today’s Parent, Spacing, Eye Weekly, OpenFile.ca and Jezebel.com among other publications. 

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