Graduation Is a Time for Reflection

By: Heather O’Neill

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Graduation.

It’s a time for reflection for students, parents, and teachers. How did these very long years fly by so quickly?

Remember the first day of Kindergarten when the big yellow bus took them to a place they loved? Or the first field trip to the Science or Children’s Museum? How about the hot, sweaty, laughter-filled field days?

The apprehension of changing classrooms in middle school? The agony of the bus rides to/from school? Navigating their way through the mess of adolescence when they would figure out what kind of person they wanted to be. Would they choose to be kind?

The dread/relief of entering high school. Figuring out what kind of learners they would be. How to be accountable for themselves. How to thoughtfully navigate social situations to include others but not hurt people’s feelings. Shopping for the semi/prom/banquet dresses. Getting fitted for the tux/new suit. Getting involved in extracurricular activities that would shape their lives and control their time. Managing course-work, practice, a job, and a social life. Getting their learner’s permit/license. Finally getting the braces off. Applying to college. Dealing with rejection… and failure.

As parents, we can’t help but reflect on our own experiences with our children. I challenge my fellow parents when you do think back on your own educational experience to think about the times you failed, but then remember how you got back up. What was it that made you keep going? What did you do, or did someone help you with, to get you to try again, or move you forward? How can we help our kids experience that same success?

I’ve written many times before about assisting our kids to be more independent. I truly believe that in order for them to be successful adults, they need to experience success, obstacles, and failure. I do believe it’s when we fail, we learn. Those learning experiences shape us into the adults who can deal with adversity, challenges, and difficulties.

For those of you that are watching your babies walk across the stage and accept their diplomas—Congratulations! Not only did they make it, but you did too!

For those of us that will be there someday—hang in there. It will be here before we know it.


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