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
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.