Sunday, November 11, 2012


One tradition of the Singapore early education system that I've never really understood is the kindergarten graduation ceremony. Oh, I get that it's a huge deal that the kids are leaving the (relatively) carefree stage of their childhood behind and moving up to formal schooling- it *is* significant and it should be celebrated.

What I don't understand is why it has to involve a whole song-and-dance program, multiple rehearsals, kids in elaborate costumes (that the parents have to pay for and which will ostensibly never get worn again), and thick make-up for all the children involved (girls and boys). Nobody I've spoken to enjoys it-- kids or parents, it's so much work for the poor teachers, and it costs so much more money than is necessary.

So it was with much relief when we found out that at Sophie's daycare, they have no such tradition. This weekend, the whole center celebrated the Kindergarten Two children graduating on to primary school and instead of the usual concert/pageant extravaganza, we all participated in a family games day instead. Even though Sophie's three years away from her own "graduation", she's come to know the children who are graduating this year and it was exciting for her to be celebrating with her friends (even though she only has the vaguest notion of what we were celebrating...)

The families didn't have to cough up a lot of money for the event-- a modest registration fee (which covered a goody bag and lunch) and an event t-shirt that we bought for Sophie which also didn't cost us too much and which I can totally see her wearing again. The whole thing was based on the theme of the Kindergarten Two curriculum this year-- Loving our Planet. Prior to this weekend, families were asked to contribute as much recyclable material as they could so that they could be used during the event's activities. Then we basically spent Saturday morning running around City Square Mall-- Singapore's first Eco Mall-- completing various tasks that involved the recyclable materials like building a tower and replicating the life-cycle of a caterpillar.

Task 2- building a picture frame from recycled materials
Making a giant photo frame from
recyclable materials

Sophie at the head of a caterpillar
Sophie as the head of the "caterpillar"

Every child and parent (even some grandparents) was involved and even though I think many of the younger kids-- Sophie included-- got tired running up and down a mall after about an hour, I think the intentions behind the event were great. We were never bored, we didn't feel like what little money we spent was wasted, and there were so many learning opportunities for all involved, especially the K2s who experienced the culmination of their year's learning in such a wonderful and engaging way. We were really so so happy for them all as they walked up the stage to proudly get their kindergarten certificates at the end of the festivities.

Graduation ceremony
Graduation ceremony

Like I said, it's going to be another three years before it's Sophie's turn. But if this year's event is anything to go by, we will only have a wonderful celebration to look forward to in 2015.

More photos here.

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