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School Achievement: Celebrating Milestones

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It seems like your kids change from being preschoolers who need validation for everything from using the potty to learning how to snap their fingers, to school-aged kids who rush off to class with little more than a good-bye and a peck on the cheek (if you're lucky) overnight. What happened to those pudgy thighs and that little squeaky voice? There's something so bittersweet about watching the little munchkin who used to bang a sippy cup against your leg while you cooked dinner become the kid who clears the table and sits down to do homework after supper.

Whether your heart's in your throat or you feel an enormous sense of relief at this new, more independent stage in your child's life, celebrating milestones at school will bring you closer as a family, give your child confidence in himself, and show him how special he is.

School milestones aren't just to be celebrated at the end of the year with graduation from one grade to another or from elementary school to junior high. There are many others things you can celebrate, like the following.

  • Getting a perfect score on a spelling or math test for the first time.

  • Participating in a school sporting event for the first time, like a soccer game or gymnastics meet.

  • Winning a school sporting event.

  • Performing in a play or musical concert.

  • Taking a first set of standardized tests.

There are many ways to commemorate these achievements. Graduation from elementary school to junior high might merit a party with family and friends, but you can celebrate other school milestones in a more low-key way.

Frame It
From a kindergarten graduation "diploma" to the certificate that your child gets for finishing swim class, most schools give children personalized, embossed documentation of achievements. Instead of sticking these in the recycling bin or filing cabinet, buy nice wooden frames for them (which are inexpensive in standard sizes) and hang them at your child's eye level in her room.

Special Suppers
Make your child's favorite meal (or plan a special surprise meal that you know your kid will enjoy, like breakfast for dinner or a supper of all orange foods) and have everyone at the table say why they are proud of him.

Go Out on the Town
The whole family can come along, of course, but if you have several children, consider taking your school-aged child out for a meal by himself to celebrate a milestone. Time alone with Mom or Dad feels really special to a child from a big family.

Journal or Scrapbook
Keep a family journal and record special events and achievements in it (this is a good place to record everyday happenings too.) You can have everyone in the family write something in the journal, and paste a picture of your child with her diploma or at her soccer game. Have your child write about what she has achieved and why she is proud of it as well; you could even ask her teacher (he'll be flattered) to add a sentence or two.


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