Celebrating school achievements
           Pure joy permeated the crowd: it was Stanfordís 109th commencement last Sunday. What struck me most was the from the undergraduate students to the graduate students, to the faculty, to the president of the university, and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, everyone in attendance was clear about two things: they were part of a long-standing tradition and they were there to have a party.

          Now completing their scholastic year, our students in fifth, eighth, and twelfth grades are leaving their schools and have their own accomplishments to celebrate. This is a good time to look at and celebrate what your child has accomplished. Also celebrate what you, as parents, accomplished, either in your childís education or furthering your own.

          Children are used to having their birthday celebrated. As part of our culture, we customarily have a child blow out as many candles as he has lived years. What about using this familiar scene to extend toward the entire familyís accomplishments at the completion of the school year?

          Let each child determine her or his accomplishments with one candle per child. This is not the awarding of a degree, but it is customizing what you and your family have accomplished during the preceding school year. 

          Parents can also celebrate their contributions toward the kidsí success in school. They get candles, too! After all, childrenís education is a family-wide process. Children need to understand that it takes all members cooperating to make their achievements.

         Be sure to include any adult education that the parents completed. This is a clear message to the children that education is a life-long pursuit.

         Itís a fine time to have everyone listen to each other and not only decide how to celebrate their accomplishments, but decide how they want to do it: pizza party, cake and ice cream, trip to the beach, or picnic in the park.

         What matters most is that everyone has something to celebrate and everyone has a say in how it will be celebrated: an event that shows children how important education is to the family.
         This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents

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