In September, my little boy will be starting school. Kindergarten. And yesterday, he graduated from Pre-school. I look back and wonder where all the time went between the day i first saw his face and this day. I'm not a big believer in all the extra "graduation ceremonies" we have added to our children's school careers, because I believe that it reduces the importance of the real "graduation". But I am a firm supporter of my child and always will be, so yesterday, there I was, front row, poised with my camera along with all the other "mommies", anxiously awaiting my son's big moment.
What can I say about a graduation ceremony for 4 and 5 year olds? It was mercifully short, with little pomp and even less circumstance. Out of roughly 40 children (no way I was gonna accurately count that many over-excited little bodies), only three dissolved into tears, and only one refused outright to cross the "stage". It was controlled chaos and gave me an even deeper reverence of daycare teachers, along with the firm conviction that they are grossly underpaid, given the importance of their job. I would, a million times over, tackle a classroom full of attitude-ridden teens before I could ever do what they do.
My son and his 9 "Best Friends in the Whole World" received their certificate from their pre-school teacher who, I am convinced, is the best pre-school teacher on the planet. Nothing has convinced me more of the importance of a good daycare system than this woman who has nurtured my son since last spring.
Over the course of the past year, she has worked with them on such things as phonics, reading, math skills, french, science, art, music, appropriate classroom behaviour, American Sign Language and disability awareness, personal safety, as well as constantly reinforcing sharing, taking turns, kindness, manners, dealing with emotions, environmentally conscientiousness, volunteerism and lots more. She has taken them on outings at least once a week, alternating between community outreach and educational activities. Cooking classes, library visits, "reading" to seniors at a local home, planting flowers outside city hall, pottery classes at a local art studio, swimming lessons, ringuette tournaments, dog shows, concerts and plays, they've done it all with Donna. My son has been incredibly happy and secure in her class and it is going to be a very difficult thing to leave behind at the end of the summer
She shook each sticky little hand and then, kneeling, hugged them and spoke softly with a personal message for each child. I found myself getting all teared up, and was a bit embarrassed until I noticed that most of the other parents were blinking back tears, too. There is nothing so touching as witnessing a rite of passage of your child and, regardless of how I felt about a pre-school graduation, I wouldn't have missed it for the world.