Why Kindergarten Graduations Are Confusing

We were sitting at a stoplight on our way to The Peeshwank’s last day of kindergarten and subsequent “graduation” ceremony, of which much pomp and circumstance had been made, when the following exchange took place:

P: “Mommy?”

Me: “Yes, sweetie?”

P: “Are you gonna miss me next year?”

Me: “What?  Why?”  (Total confusion.)

P: “When I’m at Notre Dame.  Are you going to miss me?”

Me: “Baby, you’re not going to Notre Dame next year.”

P: “But they said we were graduating today.”

Me: “Yes, but it’s just from kindergarten.  Not from school altogether.  You’ve still got to go through first grade, second grade, all the way to twelfth grade.”

(He paused and I could see he was using his fingers to see how many years that was.)

P: “Well, this sucks.”

“Next year, when I’m at Notre Dame, I’m going to study Being Awesome. And science.”

Congratulations to all graduates, both kindergarten and otherwise.

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209 thoughts on “Why Kindergarten Graduations Are Confusing

    • I’m not sure. When he was about 4 he started picking up pennies and saying, “This is for my Notre Dame fund.” (We think it may be because he thinks he’s a leprechaun and wanted to be their mascot.)
      He’s gone through a number of “college crushes” since then though. Arkansas, Michigan State, Maryland, and Princeton are his current top choices.

      • Preston would agree. We went to Michigan State for about a week in 2011 (his Odyssey of the Mind team made it to World Finals) and he fell in love with the campus. He still wears his Sparty baseball cap all the time. One of his happiest moments was when Sparty himself stopped to take a picture with him the last night we were there.

      • I lived just a few miles from campus for almost 30 years – it is a beautiful spot in the spring and fall – not so much in the winter.

      • Oh, I can imagine! Being from the south, one of the things that terrifies me is “lake effect snow”. That’s just not something I ever want to experience in my life. (Of course, I’m not sure if Lansing has to deal with that, but that’s always the first thing I think of when I think of him going to college in the North.)
        It really was beautiful when we were there in May though. (We had record-breaking heat and no air conditioning, which is really unusual for us Southerners! But we still loved it there!)

      • College crushes? At age 5? Poor kid…

        He’ll probably wind up starting his own internet based business when he’s 15 and skip college altogether.

      • It wouldn’t surprise me. He and his friends already set up servers and such on Minecraft. He did ask us the other night what the entrance requirements were like to get into MIT. *sigh*

  1. Well, he may be graduating from kindergarten, but every year is special until he goes away to Princeton, or whatever college. You may have a gifted child on your hands. I would keep close tabs on his education, and how it progresses. There are reasons for placing gifted children in gifted classes. This way they are challenged, and they won’t be bored, and want to drop out of school by grade 3! I’m not saying he is………but if the indicators are there……..you might look into having him tested. You see, the enthusiasm drops, and the learning lessens as the child is not challenged. The hardest children to teach are the ones on both extremes, and they do need special teachers to help with this. I know. I am a retired educator. Smile.

    • He’s now in 6th grade (I wrote this thinking that the only people that would read it would be my usual handful of people, so I didn’t clarify that this is one of his “old stories”, then lo and behold I got Freshly Pressed. WOW!)
      We’re very fortunate to belong to a school district that makes sure the kiddos are where they need to be. This year he was placed in all Pre-AP courses and even though they said most kids can’t maintain a straight-A average doing that, he’s got straight-As for the year with only 12 days to go. He never ceases to amaze me. We’ve managed to keep him stimulated and only had one year that was somewhat of a struggle where he came home every day saying, “Please tell me school won’t always be this boring.” That was before he was able to join orchestra and Odyssey of the Mind though. Now that he’s in those activities, he wakes up every morning excited to go to school.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      • Yes. He opted not to enter the gifted and talented program because it’s all day once a week and he told me he really didn’t want to miss school (it’s on the same day as one of his favorite classes). The gifted program here ends pretty early (which I thought was strange, as mine went all the way through high school), so he would’ve only had a couple of years in it anyway once we moved into this district. The Pre-AP classes have kept him engaged though, so it all worked out in the long run.

  2. I think I probably cried just as hard at both kids’ kindergarten graduations as I will when they graduate from high school and college!

    And by the way, wouldn’t it be bizarre if your Peeshwank really DOES go to Notre Dame??? Then you can roll out this old blog post, read it together…and cry/laugh some more!
    :)

  3. My favorite picture of me as a little kid is me decked out in my college crush clothes as a kindergardener! And when I ended up there years later, it went in my dorm. He’s going to love this story someday.

  4. hahaha how funny! i could see where he would be disappointed that he still has quite a few more years to go before he can venture off to college. such a cute story though!

  5. This is such a cute story! I have 5 kids aged from 11 years down,and I often have the most surreal,sweet,moments-that-I-want-to-remember-forever conversations with them. And then of course what happens is that I forget all about these little diamond connections between my babies and I,and then they are lost forever. So thank you for inspiring me to commit these wonderful little dialogues to paper,from now on! And thank you for sharing such a sweet moment!

    • Wow, 5 kids! One of my best friends also has 5, so I have serious respect for what you do! Once I realized how funny Preston could be, I started making little notes about things he would do/say. I have scribbled-on napkins, emails to myself, even text messages to myself from my cell phone to remind me of everything. :)

      • I think my mom started me on this path. She still has pictures I drew in kindergarten along with tons of picture scrapbooks.

  6. This is funny. I love that in childhood we have a sense of expectation that is so beyond reality, and yet it IS reality. That no plans or discussions where had about him going to Notre Dame and yet he was sure he was going. If only we could recreate that amazing wonder where the world is so new.

    I have twin girls that are graduating from college this year. I know they are a little nervous about being done with school and entering into “the real world”. I just hope they have managed to hold onto some of that excitement about beginning a new journey.

  7. That was the most adorable thing I have ever read! Kindergarten graduation sure is confusing. I thought I was done too! Poor kid. :P
    Thanks for sharing. :)

  8. Respectfully, I just don’t get celebrating a graduation at kindergarten, elementary or middle school levels. Even marking commencement at high school is debatable. It’s like telling the kids, “Hey, we’re surprised you made it this far, because, well, we didn’t expect you to. Mazel tov!”
    Maybe that explains your son’s confusion why he’s not headed to Notre Dame just yet. LOL

    • I’ve never fully understood the concept of kindergarten graduation myself. My school didn’t do it (or at least not that I recall). “Yea! You made it through the easiest year of school you’ll ever experience! Woohoo!” Hahaha!

  9. Oh, this is so cute! It makes me wonder though, how appropriate it is for the kindergartners to march in to Pomp & Circumstance. Shouldn’t we hold that off just a bit? I’m an educator, and this is something I’ve been contemplating since fall, actually.

    • He is pretty logical. I’ve found myself on the losing side of many a disagreement with him and had to resort to that most hated phrase in all of parentdom: “Why? Because I said so.” I always swore I’d never do that. :)

  10. LOL this is so cute! It sure is a great post to read on a Friday morning (Oh how I love Fridays!!). Mind you, he’s definitely gonna be something one day :D

  11. Indeed it does! Why can’t they teach it all in one year :)
    Not sure about kids, but as a parent Kindergarten graduation is fun! Graduating from High school and starts college fund tension; graduating out of college, and they’ll be on their way too.

  12. What an aspiring young man you have. I’m fairly certain my 6 year old thinks when he’s done with kindergarten, he can move on to his lifelong ambition – to be a dad.

    • I agree! “End of the year celebration” would be much more fitting, I think. Or “Yea! It’s summertime! Let’s have kool-aid and cookies!” :) Thanks for reading and commenting.

  13. Enjoy the moment, as I’m sure you have heard a thousand times before, time will go by too quickly and you will be saying goodbye as he goes off to Notre Dame. I am at the other end. My oldest is graduating highschool at the end of the month and I find it unreal. I swear it was yesterday I sent him off to Kindergarten. Instead of my kiddo saying this sucks, it’s me, because really it does. No matter how many times you tell yourself you are ready for it when it actually comes you are left wondering where the time went. Wishing for just a little more time.
    Enjoy the moments, and thank you for sharing, it warms my heart.

  14. So cute. I finally graduated past every seemingly required level of schooling nowadays. I am still contemplating going for my Masters. For so many years, I couldn’t wait to be out of school, and now I feel so strange that I’ve been done for the past year.

    • I understand that feeling completely! I have some friends that have gone back for their Masters and I find myself pondering the idea… Maybe in a few years when the little guy is able to drive himself all over and doesn’t need me to be his personal assistant (which is practically a full-time job currently).

  15. It’s official; you are awesome.
    I just loved this. I was like this. My husband was like this. However, we have a son who would willingly repeat the current grade if he could get his friends to stay back with him — “I want to already know the stuff so I get more time to play.” I don’t know where he gets it. But I’m hoping that like the P-man, he will find something he loves (I’m hoping soon!) and latch on to it.
    I also hope that awesome people reading this blog entry will be inspired to buy your books! Congratulations!

    • Thanks, girl! I was worried about Preston at first because he didn’t seem to be interested in reading much. Now he’s an avid reader. It just took a minute or two for it to “click” with him. :)

  16. It is sort of funny, you’re basically “graduating” into the start of school? I never had a kindergarten graduation though, I feel robbed.

    • We didn’t have one either when I was a kid. When they mentioned it at his school, I was like “Ha! Wait. You’re serious? We’re doing a full-on graduation for 5-year-olds?” Haha! The other moms looked at me like I was crazy.

  17. This reminds me of when Barack Obama was on “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” years back and was ranting on the oddity of kindergarten graduations. I can’t say I really blame him! Your post just proves that kids are just as confused by them as some adults!

  18. What a riot! When I was 5, my mother told me about going to first grade. Next thing she knew, I’d disappeared. She found me many long minutes (for her) later. I was walking to school — in July, I think. Kids are such literalists! Yours sounds like a kick!

  19. As someone who’s graduating soon ( I walk in the ceremony next week, and am writing my culminating paper as we speak- just took a momentary break), this resonated and made me smile. Doesn’t feel like it was that long ago that I was graduating kindergarten.

    I suspect time will fly for you and Peeshwank as well!

    • It has really flown. He’ll be starting junior high next year (this was a reminiscing post) and it just doesn’t seem real to me yet. :)
      Congratulations on your graduation!

  20. I feel bad – it DOES suck! college was something of a twisted marathon for me, and high school wasn’t much better – but at least high school didn’t change the rules every once in a while – and high school was FREE!

    • Amen! My alma mater has been instituting tuition hikes every semester for the past couple of years. I can’t even imagine how much it’s going to cost by the time Preston’s ready to go!

    • Amen! I’ve never heard of 8th grade graduation before. Before long we’ll be having graduation for every grade which will only cheapen when they DO graduate from something important like college!

  21. Kindergarteners say the funniest things! I am a substitute teacher and often sub in one particular Kindergarten classroom. I think I could write a book from all the things those kids say to me :)

    Enjoy your little one. In a blink, you will have teenager going off to high school (like me)!

    • Oh I’ll bet you could!
      Preston’s starting junior high next year (this was a reminiscing post) and I just can’t even believe how quickly that happened.

  22. When I travelled to Australia I went to a pre-school/kindergarten graduation with mortar boards and capes and everything. Confused the hell out of me. Didn’t realise that this is becoming so popular?! And the kids took it so seriously…

    • Haha! Thanks! It is a funny word and one that’s not very well known outside of Cajun territory, so don’t worry, you’re not the only one that giggles at it!

  23. Great story,my daughter is a kindergarten teacher and I get to hear stories like yours all the time.She has four kids of her own and we laugh every day at what comes out of their little minds.The time goes by so fast so enjoy.Blessings to you and your family

  24. really……
    i am confused as to why your kid is confused…..
    next time tell him before hand that he is moving on to first grade and this is a big step so instead of graduating kindergarden you are participating in a big step ceremony and then he will understand we parents just like to get together and celebrate great things…..like graduating kindergarden!

  25. They obviously started this whole “graduation of kindergarten” business long after I had finished kindergarten (in the early 90s). I find it hilarious they have ceremonies for this! :D But then Americans like to celebrate everything.

    Also there are pre-AP classes nowadays? I only graduated from high school in 2006, you either had a good enough average to get into an AP class or you didn’t. I hope your kid takes time out and still enjoys being a kid! He doesn’t have to worry about college yet. :)

    • Yeah, the pre-AP thing is pretty new. It’s not a whole lot different than the regular classes, but moves a little quicker, papers have to be a little longer and more in depth, etc. He’s handled it pretty well so far and has still maintained an active social life. He can be seen every weekend night at our local skating rink with “his dudes”. Haha!

  26. He was in Odyssey of the Mind at how old??? That’s pretty amazing! No wonder he’s scouting colleges early. I was in it from 5th grade to 7th at which point they started using Destination: Imagination! instead and no self respecting preteen would EVER be in something that sounds that lame. OM forever!!

    • Preach, sister! I was in it when it was still Olympics of the Mind (back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth). He started OM in 4th grade (this post was actually a reminiscing post for me). He’s now going into 7th grade and is still gung-ho about OM, which I just love!

  27. How gorgeous, don’t you just love the way the child’s mind works?! I wonder what pearls of wisdom my son will come out with in the lead up to his preschool “graduation” at the end of this year : )

  28. Haha this made me laugh xD
    When I read the title, it reminded me of the conversation with my mom and I about my graduation gift just a few days ago.
    I told my mom that I wanted a stuffed bear for my graduation (which is in…a month! :D) and she said “No” cuz apparently a stuffed bear for graduating high school is immature D:…(Yes I said high school xD)
    It’d be a great graduation gift don’t you think?…I mean, a stuffed bear could last forever and it’d symbolize an end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one because I’d be moving to residents when I go into university :)…Great grad gift, right? Right? RIGHT? xD

    • I think a stuffed bear would be a great gift! He could go with you to university and be a reminder of your mom. (Tell her every time you look at it, you’ll feel like she’s there with you. That’ll do the trick!)
      Congratulations on your graduation and best of luck at university!

  29. I used to be a Pre-kindergarten teacher and had to plan those graduation ceremonies for the 4 and 5-year-olds in my class. It always seemed like it was more for the parents than the kids, I don’t think they really did grasp what it was all about. And, I think every kid should want to “study awesome”! Very cute story.

    • You’re right. It reminds me of some movie/show I saw a long time ago (I can’t even begin to remember which one) where there were kids putting on a play of some sort and as soon as it started, every person in the audience whipped out camcorders right on cue. :)

  30. When I graduated Kindergarten, I was awarded the legendary “Furby Of Excellence”. I was very proud! Of course, it all went bad when he went crazy and killed my pets. But that’s a story for another day…

    • I had a Furby that went nutso as well. His batteries went dead, but one night as we were watching television, he opened his eyes and sang “Doobeedoobeedoo…” Freaked.Me.Out!

  31. How precious! It sounds like your little man is going to be very prepared once his time to graduate does finally roll around (:
    Then again, I still find it hard to believe that I’ll be graduating a year from now… make sure he enjoys school while he can!

    • One of my mantras when he wishes he were older is “Don’t wish your life away!” Best of luck to you on your graduation next year! Enjoy that final year!

  32. This cracked me up. I remember when I was 4, and had just finished my first year at primary school (elementary school), I decided that because I knew how to read, write, and do math, I was done with school and shouldn’t have to go back. Was devastated to learn that I had 13 years to go plus university. So this brought me right back to my childhood! :)

  33. My son who is 12 now,asked me after his kindergarten graduation ” Dad,now that I graduated,am I done with school?” Needless to say,my response was not a very welcome one.

  34. Very impressive that he knows he has to save for college! And for Notre Dame nonetheless. He has expensive taste. Tell him he better start applying for scholarships! :-)

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  36. I loved your post. I hope he can skip all the schooling and go straight to the awards ceremony at Harvard. What kind of world would we live in if all of the proposals in government were made by small children?

  37. I’m impressed! What great parents you child has, saving for college already and shooting for the moon! So awesome.

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  38. Wow! How funny is that. I’ll bet if you do some research you might discover the origin of Kindergarten graduations were started by the companies that make cap & gowns.

  39. I also enjoy the 2 & 3 year old ballet recital which consists of guests sitting in chairs around the same ballet room they are in all session. The class is basically the same chaos as usual, just add in a bunch of moms and grandmas watching….like we do every week. Don’t think it should be called graduation until they work for it, and don’t think it should be a recital until they’re on a stage. Come on people!

  40. Pingback: From A-Z Graduates Get Their Key to the Future…or the Local Convenience Store Bathroom | Crumb Snatcher Tales

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