Do 4 year olds need a graduation ceremony?

Posted in: News on August 13, 2015 by Lynne Wealleans

Staff Blog
It seems that from birth, in childhood and into adulthood there are a number of rites of passage; pre-school, primary school, senior school, college, university, graduation. In fact when you are young every birthday is marked as special particularly those that have significance for another stage in your life – 5, 11/12, 15/16, 18. So rites of passage are all around when you are younger and that’s not taking into account those connected with culture or religion.

This headline caught my attention recently as the BBC news covered the growing phenomenon in UK nurseries to hold pre-school graduation ceremonies.
My first reaction was ‘what?’ and then a resounding ‘no!’ As the grandmother of a 3½ year old who is about to go to pre-school in September my initial thoughts were let children be children; there’s plenty of time in the future for these grown up sorts of occasions.
 
But, of course, there are arguments for and against pre-school graduation and one in particular struck a chord with me and that was one of the fathers who was in favour and described it as a rite of passage.
A dictionary definition of rite of passage is a ceremony or event marking an important stage in someone's life, especially birth, the transition from childhood to adulthood, marriage, and death.
It seems that from birth, in childhood and into adulthood there are a number of rites of passage; pre-school, primary school, senior school, college, university, graduation. In fact when you are young every birthday is marked as special particularly those that have significance for another stage in your life – 5, 11/12, 15/16, 18. So rites of passage are all around when you are younger and that’s not taking into account those connected with culture or religion.
 
What rites of passage do we take account of as we are getting older? Of course, we can marry, graduate or die at any age and we still have ‘special’ birthdays (whether we want to mark them or not). But as we become older those birthdays become more ‘well done for getting here’ rather than the pure joy of childhood birthdays.
Would we say retirement was a rite of passage and, if so, how does that work these days when we are being encouraged to work for longer?
 
As we move into later life perhaps a rite of passage could be taking stock of what we have done well, letting go of the less successful bits and moving forward with curiosity and optimism into the next stage of life.
 


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