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Why I Am A Bad Mom - I Hate Participation Awards


We've reached the end of the school year! We have a summer full of quality time with our children, and at least one month of wishing that teachers got paid all lot more than they currently do. It also means the end of year rituals of "graduation" and "awards." I use quotation marks because I think these rituals are ridiculous. I'm aware that a 5 year old in a cap and gown is adorable, and makes a great picture to use for their senior photo interfere book. However, I don't see the point. We also just wrapped up T-ball season at my house, which of course comes with an obligatory trophy. Oh joy, another thing to clutter my shelves.

I whole-heartedly believe in celebrating the achievement of actually graduating from high school, trade school, college, or University. Those signify that you have actually undergone a fair amount of work that wasn't necessarily required of you. But my kid is going to go to kindergarten, and does not need a ceremony to recognize that he is leaving Pre-K .I was so thankful when I got to the "graduation" ceremony and there was no actual graduation.

As for the "awards"; receiving something just for participating doesn't even make sense to my 5 year old. After his T-ball end of season party he asked why he got a trophy. After competing in a gymnastics meet he asked why he got a medal. After his first one mile run he was given a ribbon he asked why (he was only 3 then). He does not understand why he is being recognized when he knows he didn't win something. T-ball is fun, and that's what we encourage in it. He learned a lot of great baseball skills, teamwork, and both how to win and lose with grace. For some reason, they keep standings in T-ball in our city, and his team came in 2nd place in the league last year, but this year they didn't place at all. So he wants to know why he got a trophy. He attended his first pre-school and gymnastics meet recently, and was given a medal and told to stand on the number 1 Box for a picture. There no scores at the meet. All children got a medal and a chance to stand on the number 1 Box. He wanted to know why. And I don't have an answer.

Back to his "graduation ceremony." instead of walking across the stage in a cap and gown, his teachers gave awards to each other kids. Each child got at least three, but only one was mentioned. These weren't just participation awards, they were very specific. There was the fashionista award, received by a little girl in an epically adorable outfit; best at science award, best at math award. Unsurprisingly, my child received most athletic award and a few other awards that were obviously specifically chosen for his personality and what things he accomplished during the year. It was extremely touching how much effort the teachers put into deciding what would be the best way to recognize each of their students for a year well done. I can't thank them enough for the adorable awards that were given out, because it showed how much they cared.

I'm not saying that ceremonies and awards in and of themselves are bad, I think they need to be handed out with thought. I recognize that the little graduation pictures are adorable, but there's no reason you can't take that while just playing dress up, because playing dress up is awesome(I might be wearing a Batman mask right now). Instead of giving every T-baller a trophy, why not focus on what they did well; best catcher, best thrower, best bouquet maker, most turns spun in an outfield, tallest sandcastle made by a base, etc. I will continue to recognize my child for his achievements, but I'd love it if people didn't try to award him for just showing up. Your thoughts?

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