Toddlers Are Getting Way Too Many 'Diplomas' These Days


dog diplomaI have two children, the oldest is five. So far we’ve gotten numerous official-looking diplomas for them, for actually accomplishing very little.

My daughter received a diploma for “graduating” nursery school. Which raises a question: How do you flunk nursery school? Do you not play well with others? Do you forget to clean up at cleanup time? Do you confuse circle time for some other fundamental, rudimentary shape?

I didn’t feel, honestly, that she really earned this diploma. And she didn’t either; judging by how her big post-graduation concern was about eating as much cake as possible.

My daughter received another official diploma looking thingy for “completing” a two-hour course about how to be a big sister, administered by a local hospital. (We attended before the birth of our son, to get her mentally prepared.) What did she do during this course? Color in a coloring book, and learn one basic rule: don’t pick up the baby! That’s about it. I am glad we went, of course, but did she really deserve a diploma for it?

My son, however, might just take the cake. He received what is essentially a diploma for getting circumcised. It has his name, date of the ceremony, some purple words in calligraphy, and even an official-looking gold foil star. Like a real diploma.

But what did he really do to earn this? I mean, I’m glad it went well, of course, but he was like eight days old at the time. His big issue, to that point, was that he had never really straightened his legs out. And this he did with aplomb, but still.  

And this raises another issue: who, I wondered, is his diploma actually for? As proud of our son as we are we’re not going to put this on our wall. I also very much doubt he will want to put this on his wall when he’s older.

People blame today’s parents for rewarding their children for accomplishing very little. Okay, fair enough. But what about the fact that everyone else rewards them too, also for doing very little? It kind of degrades the value of what a real diploma means.

I mean, I would know. I didn’t get my first real diploma until I graduated eighth grade. I guess we were more old school back then.

Have your kids earned diplomas for doing very little?

Image via Andrea Arden/Flickr



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nonmember avatar kmommy

Yup the everyone is special and gets a reward crap really needs to end, same with the taking turns at winning games. I'm not sure how that works but they do it at my kids' kindergarten with learning games every kid wins even if they didn't earn it. Our family is more you have to put in the effort in to get some type of praise even if it's a pat on the back "good try!" Same with posting pictures on the fridge only the best gets on or I end up with ten drawings of the same princess just different color crown. All of which are special to her that I can't toss even after scanning them.

Unless the adult world changes to make sure everyone has their idea job for life, has a turn to be employee of the month or everyone gets a bonus without making their quota. Which none of that will never happen in any lifetime. Parents, teachers, and coaches are setting up our kids to fail when they turn 18 and try to live on their own or get a job and most won't understand why they failed or handle failing leading to break downs. If all they experience is winning or people treating them as gifts to the world.

nonmember avatar Wee

I don't think toddlers should get any certificate/diploma. Sorry but they really haven't accomplished anything.!

nonmember avatar NoWay

Exactly, kmommy. This is where the "99%" comes from, too. They have had things handed to them for their entire lives for doing nothing. So, now that they have graduated from college with a degree in some obscure field, they don't understand why they can't immediately go out and get a job making 6 figures. It's "not fair."

hello... hellokd87

Going from Jr high to high school is NOT like going from kindergarten to first grade. Homework for kindergarten- learning to write your name. Homework for 8th grade? Pre-Algebra. Yeah, that's totally the same accomplishment.

nonmember avatar Connie

Well, I must really be old-school. I didn't even get an eighth-grade diploma. I am a teacher and I don't have any kids of my own.. but if I did, the first time that my kids got one of those "diplomas", I wiould have to return it to the issuer. BTW, I sure do hope auto correct was responsible for the spelling of the word "crown". :)

Fondue Fondue

Connie, maybe she meant "crown."  Some princesses wear crowns.  ;)

Sonjamilitarymom Norman

nowadays they give trophies for participating. What a crock. What do we teach our kids. Success is earned not given. Not everyone is winner. 

nonmember avatar Rachel

I agree with you about the diplomas for everything stuff. At my son's elementary school, the principal and teachers call the kids "scholars" instead of students. They find it inspiring. I find it insipid as it devalues true scholarship. I mean, yay, my kid is in kindergarten and learning how to read, but, seriously, that does not a scholar make.

nonmember avatar Cassie

There should always be a winner and a loser and I think that is good to teach when you are younger. Now, that being said, getting a Certificate for passing "Nursery" or "Toddler" in a day-school should be celebrated and they should feel a sense of accomplishment because that is the level the child is at to accomplish that particular obstacle. There are several things that children deserve to be rewarded for when graduating from Nursery school into actual grade schools. Usually in Nursery School children learn their Alphabet, Counting, Writing their name, simple reading of site words and how to participate in groups. Although these may seem silly to you, they are the same as a High School-er who passed school because they passed all their classes and get a Certificate. You can't belittle what a child does because it isn't that spectacular in your eyes. As for Toddlers, they accomplish several things as well, potty training, coordination, learning to color and the basics of making shapes, identifying shapes and colors and learning to share and participate with others. These are major accomplishments for younger children, and they should be recognized. These younger children work hard to accomplish these goals, just as older teens work hard to accomplish their own goals. No goal is greater than the other, it is just on their level.

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