I believe that experiences in the early years of your child’s life deeply impact him for the rest of his life.
Rituals are emotionally enriching. May is often the month for Graduation. Graduation from preschool, graduation from Kindergarten, Graduation from elementary school and graduation from High school (USA focus). Some graduations are fun and some are stressful.
I believe that these levels can be important milestones but in the younger years, we really need to have the event be driven by the children and make sure it is age appropriate.
I just experienced an age appropriate ceremony.
The children had each published their own writing story. They shared their new books by inviting their parents into the classroom. They had decorated the room, they had made their own brownies in the school kitchen, they poured their juice, served the guests first and were as ‘proud’ as any child could ever be. Parents took a ton of pictures. This was a successful ritual that marked a milestone. These children had moved from Kindergarten into the larger elementary school.
Then I attended a different kindergarten graduation.
Parents decorated the room, they purchased a cake, children had to wear uncomfortable clothes. They had it in a huge auditorium. Some kids were scared to walk across the stage alone. Parents took a lot of pictures.
This was a school created ritual. Kids received a diploma but they did not show the same pride as the children who had produced their own book from their computer and a printer.
There is no right or wrong way to create a ritual but often these things evolve into something far off from what they started out being in the first place. Sometimes new parents come onto the scene and want to make it “better and bigger” than last year. They lose site that this celebration should be meaningful to the children and that the children should be involved and engaged in the process and not just photo props.
Rituals are memories – have you checked on yours lately?
When I graduated, I can remember the dress I wore, who I had to try and walk down the isle at the same time matching step to step and I remember walking across the stage to get a single red rose. I don’t remember the importance of that graduation, just that we did it.
When I graduated from University – I remember every detail of this ritual. I remember how hard it was to maintain the grades I needed in order to get the scholarships I needed. I remember locking in a job before I walked across the stage to get my diploma. I remember every person who was on that stage that day and what they said to me. Due to the time of the event, I only had friends at the graduation. I remember my friends. Some are still close friends 30 years later.
The ritual that stands out the most for me is my son’s preschool graduation. He attended an Indonesian international play school. The kids spent several months learning about their host country, the music, the customs, and the rituals that happen in Indonesia. When their special day came, they got to pick out an outfit they wanted to wear as a celebrational outfit. They got to pick if they’d do a dance, a song, or share art from their host country. My son decided to recite the poem “Pelangi, Pelangi”.
Merah, kuning, hijau
Di langit yang biru
Later I learned that the English words to his poem were:
How beautiful you are!
Red, yellow, green
On the blue sky.
Your great painter,
I’m a Creation of God.
I love this ritual if it is driven by the young students – I hate this ritual when it is driven by the parents and has no connection to the child. What is your school doing this year? It is not too late to make some changes and make it a ritual that is meaningful.