Parents conflicted over childcare graduation ceremonies

Preschool graduations: necessary or over the top?
Preschool graduations: necessary or over the top? Photo: Getty

Next week my four and a half year old will finish preschool and say a final goodbye to her beloved teachers. But before the doors close on the year, C and her friends will celebrate their achievements with an end of year concert and graduation ceremony.

It seems to be standard practice these days. Some preschools even go as far as to dress the youngsters up in traditional mortarboards and gowns. They may look very cute shaking hands with the principal or day-care director, but are these ceremonies really necessary?

I asked family therapist Martine Oglethorpe if she sees a value in preschool graduation ceremonies. She says that having an end of year celebration helps children recognise that they are moving on from preschool and gives them a structure to say goodbye.

"Certainly the achievements and developments that kids make during the preschool years are worth celebrating and recognising," she says

However, Oglethorpe tells me that events that focus on the transition to school are more helpful than ceremonies that replicate college and university graduations.

"Too much 'pomp and ceremony' make some kids more anxious than excited, especially as many of them will be unaware of what it all means," she warns.

So what do parents think? Trae, a mother of two, says that she thinks preschool graduation ceremonies are over the top. "You get a ceremony for going to the toilet these days," she jokes.

While Trae thinks that getting a certificate is okay, she is against mortarboard ceremonies for preschoolers. "When you work so hard for years to get a cap and gown at your own university graduation, then look down to see your five-year-old gets one for colouring within the lines, it seems ridiculous," she explains.

In a similar vein, Megan, also a mother of two, says that preschool graduations are unnecessary. "There's already such a huge hype over going to school that it isn't helpful to young kids, and graduations just add to it," she says.

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But some parents relish the opportunity to celebrate the end of an era. "I think it marks a big transition, especially if kindy has been a big part of their life," says Danielle, who will be attending her son's graduation ceremony this week.

Likewise Alison says: "My kid has been a childcare for five years. I am all for celebrating the move up to 'big school'. I am looking forward to it and I don't care how much of a dork that makes me."

At the moment I am very much on the fence. The thought of C and her little friends dressed up in caps and gowns makes me cringe a little and I hope that her graduation is low-key. On the other hand, when it comes to it, I will probably be in floods of tears and snapping photos to share with friends and families.

Jo is equally as hypocritical: "Before I thought the whole thing was ridiculous and over the top," she says.

"However now that [my son] is graduating I'm kind of excited and a little emotional!"

What do you think? Are preschool graduation ceremonies unnessesary? Do you feel pressure to attend? Leave your comment below or join the discussion on our forums.

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