Friday, May 20, 2011

Kindergarten Graduation

It was when I was a teacher in a public school that I realized just how arbitrary school schedules really are. I was a band teacher. We needed a band concert, so I picked a date, sent out flyers, and that was the date of the band concert.

Curly in red cap and gown

Now I'm a homeschooling mom. While I love unschooling and the lack of any sort of rigid schedule to stick to, I've discovered a couple of things we're missing. One very important thing is a milestone. I've written about this here before.

a plate full of ripe strawberries drizzled with chocolate

I feel like the kids need to notice their own progress. Reading the blog of an adult unschooler made me aware of this need. I might be aware that over the past year my child has made great strides in reading, but she needs to be aware of it too.

Red Velvet cake with cream cheese icing and the words Congrats Natalie on top

Along those lines, the hardest thing for my little unschoolers to do is to answer the questions of the strangers on the street who, with idle curiosity, have no idea what unschooling is all about. "What grade are you in?" they ask, and my child, who is doing third grade phonics, second grade math and a preschool handwriting worksheet, not to mention LEGO building projects, days at the park, making her own movies, dressing up as a dragon, drawing mazes, and counting to 1,000... she has no clue how to answer.

chips, salsa and m&ms

I decided we'd call ourselves the grade that their chronological age dictated, in order to have an answer.

Little Mister in an orange shirt, eating a Three Musketeers bar

Then, I decided that we needed the ceremonial advancement that the schooled kids get to participate in. I remember my kindergarten graduation fondly; in particular I remember wearing a nifty light-blue cap and gown. I also remember being the tallest kid in the class, which didn't change until high school.

Curly opening a gift in a striped bag, and taking out a pack of stickers

So, even though we won't stop learning for the summer, even though we're not at the end of any workbooks, nor will the school location or teacher change, I decided we'd celebrate our little kindergarten graduate anyway. This would give her a milestone to look back on and remember. It will allow her to tell people with assurance that she is now a first-grader. And it gives her a chance to wear a nifty cap and gown.

Mama, my mom, wearing Curly's cap and tassel

She picked out a red velvet cake, some red strawberries, a red cap and gown, red plates, cups and napkins, and red balloons. A perk, I guess, of being the only student in your class is that graduation is full of your very own favorite color.

blurred-out picture of a red glow stick

Mama came bearing gifts. Little glow sticks were voted unanimously the favorite, and the kids circled the table with them, yelling their heads off.

Curly wearing a new blue striped shirt and Mama still in the cap and tassel

We also had Curly showcase a few of her academic accomplishments, just like the kids would do at a "real" graduation. Part of this is for the grandparents; part of it is for her to look back on in years to come.

Thus is my little unschooler successfully transferred to first grade. In the grand scheme of things I don't think she particularly cares; she just likes the excuse for a party. :)


  1. I never had a kindergarten graduation party, so I always thought they were silly, it's not like the kids go to a different school after, in fact the only graduations I had were high school and college. Still, I think this is amazingly brilliant and I'll tell you why.

    Every time I spend time in the old testament I am amazed by the things in which God commands of his people. He gives pages and pages of very specific rules, both for healthful peaceful living and to distinguish them from other nations, He gives very exact descriptions of the way ceremonies are to be performed, disputes are to be settled, and families are to be arranged. And then He commands celebrations. Events that were to occur regularly, and to be witnessed by all in the community. Not just 30 minutes here and a day off there, but real celebrations some which lasted for a week or more!

    In our culture we have lost the knowledge of how to come together and celebrate, it is difficult and awkward, and we just plain stink at it. Our weddings last a few hours, our birthdays less so. Christmas and Easter barely consume a morning. I'm so glad you took the night to come together, make a memory and celebrate, these times too teach what is really important.

  2. I like what KtCallista said. I never even thought about doing a Kindergarten graduation(especially since we didn't have one when I was in public school), but I think we need to have a year end party and showcase the things that the kids learned over the year so that they can see their accomplishments, and have an excuse for a party, lol.

    We're not officially out until the 13th. :P One of the drawbacks of On-line charter schooling. I'm starting to lean toward going out on our own limb in the future.