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Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 06/10/2010

Do we need preschool graduation ceremonies?

By Valerie Strauss

Spend a little time watching videos of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students at graduation ceremonies, or, to save time, just take my word for it, but it's time to call a halt to these events.

The kids are surely very adorable as they parade around in their graduation caps and gowns, and as they perform songs and dances for proud parents and grandparents.

(At the moment, my favorite performance is the “Rules Rap,” by kids at the pre-K graduation ceremony at the Pike County Elementary School in Zebulon, Ga., on May 21, but that is subject to change, and I am open to suggestion. Here’s a video.)

But, come on, folks.

Far too many hours go into preparing for these events. They can cost too much money. And most kids don’t remember a thing about them when they get older. Actually the wonder is gone by the next day.

Do 4- and 5-year-olds really need this “closure”? Do they really need to spend hours getting ready to entertain adults?

One of the factors driving these events is money. Decking kids out in graduation garb has become a business. The web has numerous sites that cater to the kiddie graduation market. You can buy graduation clothing, poems, pictures, keepsakes.

At, for just $23.95 you can get the Deluxe Graduation Package, complete with cloth cap and gown, tassel with year charm, graduate sash, ring, diploma with matching invitation and program cover. (There’s a non-deluxe package too.)

I didn’t have that much when I graduated from graduate school.

Another site,, offers free ideas for ceremonies and spells out the rationale for why these events are important:

“Be it a college graduation ceremony or a preschool graduation – the moment is equally special... A preschool graduation is a time to celebrate the achievements of the preschoolers and wish them luck as they step into the statutory education phase.”

These events really aren’t for the kids. They are for the adults. And that just seems wrong.

But go ahead, tell me why I'm wrong.

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By Valerie Strauss  | June 10, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Early Childhood  | Tags:  caps and gowns for kids, graduation caps for children, graduation ceremonies, kindergarten graduation, pre-k graduation ceremonies, preschool graduation  
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The kids are incredibly cute and their parents love to see them dressed up like that. These events are for the parents, not the kids.

Posted by: celestun100 | June 10, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

I think it depends on how its presented in the classroom. When I taught K students it was our final two week theme of the year.

I taught at a military CDC and we simply weren't allowed to dress up and parade the kids in a uniform.

They had to write a story to present, we planned needed supplies using their math skills, we practiced a song, used our own art center to make all of the decorations.
They brought in pictures of graduations they had been too. We put their parents gowns in the dress-up center. There were graduation words on our world wall etc., etc.

I'm not trying to prove you wrong, just suggesting that it can be done with value to the kids. K is a transition for a lot of kids from being considered a baby to being a big kid. Just make it about them.

Posted by: LiliKang | June 10, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I don't think a cap and gown is needed, but I appreciate watching the kids sing songs and display art that they've done throughout the year. I like the madness that is the Christmas show too. The kids like showing off to their family and we get to see them perform with their friends.

Posted by: mdem929 | June 10, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

You're right that this is ridiculous. and I'll agree with you that this should be be stopped if you'll agree with me that it's equally ridiculous to have multiple valedictorians at HS graduations since schools systems don't want to single one person out, even if that one person was the best performer.

Posted by: oldwolf53 | June 10, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

To this very day I have my kids cap n gown to include graduation pictures that we enjoy every once in a while together. They are a part of their individual education history and they will have the ability to share then with their own children one day.

I don't know of one single parent that has a problem with celebrating their children progression, even from PreK.

The schools (teachers/administrators/parents) make it special for the kids and their is nothing wrong with that. The kids LOVE IT!

The begin celebrating progressing in education at a very early age and that's good.

Posted by: TwoSons | June 10, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse


It's not ALWAYS about price-tag Ms. Strauss. If schools want to make it a special day for their students, then let them be.

If you (or a parent that disagrees) and do not want your child apart of a PreK or K ceremony for THEM (the children), it's your right to keep them at home.

Ms. Strauss you're giving your opinion about and/or questioning something special a school and their parents support and enjoy for 4 or 5 year old PreK or Kindergartners.

Please lighten up.

Posted by: TwoSons | June 10, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Interestingly, a lot of school systems have dropped 8th-grade graduations now that every student goes on to high school (and now that the primary/elementary/junior-high/middle school debate has made it unclear just when is the end of elementary school). It makes as much sense to hold a pre-kindergarten or kindergarten graduation as it does to hold a fourth-grade graduation when the school uses an elementary/middle school division.

Basically, no graduation short of high school or college makes any real sense any more, and maybe not then. Kids start in pre-kindergarten, and their schooling continues at least until they finish high school; with the need for further training in almost all fields, most high school graduates are headed for some other form of education. Even college graduates are in many cases headed for graduate school, and how many of us have gone back to college in mid-life? When are we ever finished with our education and beginning "real life"?

Posted by: sideswiththekids | June 10, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

But what is the acheivement? What is the celebration for? It's not challenging to graduate from preschool. I can understand having an end of the year program where kids display work they have done and sing songs they have learned, but to call it a "graduation" and put them in robes and hats is a little premature. And no one will stop the madness because no one wants to be "the one" parent who says "this is ridiculous" because they would look like a bad parent.

Posted by: MrsFaxon | June 10, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

We celebrate the progression of these young children as they move toward their entrance to the "big building" with the "big kids" with a really nice acknowledgment of their progression.

We celebrate their achievements, no matter how small, of these young children. They enjoy the attention and camaraderie.

So much FUN and acknowledgement of accomplishments is being removed from schools due to budget, etc..

It's another opportunity to say "thank you" to the teachers & staff while serving another opportunity for parents to gather together at the end of the school year as we honor our kids together.

Some of these kids may never see each other again because many ES schools do not have PreK, so videos are appreciated as well. It's nice for them (students) to look back at class pictures/videos as they grow older and it's really great to have while creating diaries of their achievements.

In one picture frame each, both my kids have pictures from pre-school all they way to their current education years. It's really nice to see (and to have) their individual school-related transition and maturity. To include cap-n-gown multiple years and based on grade.

They both think its pretty cool too and pretty sure their future families will as well.

Posted by: TwoSons | June 10, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

The barrage of events surrounding 'graduation' from Kindergarten, 5th grade, and 8th grade is symptomatic of the parent initiated push for students to expect more, more, more recognition of every minor event in life. Graduation does not occur in Kindergarten. It occurs when a student has successfully complete high school and has received a diploma. It occurs when he or she earns a degree from a university. The constant attempts by adults to make every little step their child takes into a monumental achievement simply dilutes REAL achievements and makes a mockery of what should be a celebration that is earned.

Posted by: nunovyerbizness1 | June 10, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

give me a take away supporting a preschoolers too?

The most earliest foundation of education estasblishment...

this is a joke...right?

Posted by: PGCResident1 | June 10, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

My mother-in-law runs a day care center and has a graduation at the end of the year; even though most of the kids will go to the same public school for kindergarten. It's about sending them off into the next stage.

As I type that, it sounds a little preposterous, but I have how many years of schooling behind me now. That's the problem, I suspect. When I was in high school, my high school graduation was a big deal. When I was in 5th grade, it was a big deal.

In some ways, these events are for the parents, but we are also looking at it from our perspective; there's no big difference between Pre-K and kindergarten. For some of these kids, this has been school since they were 2 years old. Next year they go on to the new school -- the big kid school. At age 4, that's a big deal.

Posted by: justin_m | June 11, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

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