Preschool Graduation Speech

Good afternoon friends, families, and graduates. Thank you so much for asking me to come and speak before you on this momentous of days in the lives of these five year olds. We come together today to recognize and honor our preschool graduates. Over the past two years they have come through these doors to play, paint, draw, build, dress-up, read, write, color, and learn. Through the power of play these students have grown socially, emotionally and academically. Through the power of compassionate and love filled teaching, these students are now prepared for elementary school.

Students, as you move into the next phase of your academic lives I have some advice for you. First, forget everything you did here. Especially anything that was fun and playful. You will be entering into a world of testing and strict standards that will dictate your every move. Your play time will be replaced by test preparation and your coloring will be done with a number two pencil in small circles.

My second piece of advice is to hold on to your creativity as long as you can. While you were here in preschool you were creative in the most unfiltered and pure form. You learned new things out of curiosity and a natural love of learning. As you get older your classes will become more rigid, structured and scripted. Do whatever you can to be creative in your work and pursue your natural curiosity.

Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid failing. Yes, when you tried singing your ABC’s and messed up, your teacher gave you as much time as you needed to figure it out and get it right. Even though you failed initially, your teacher did help you learn from it. However, as you move forward, failure is seen as weakness and ultimately will determine your lot in life. Too many failed tasks and you will be labeled a failure with no chance of success in this so called real world.

Now don’t get me wrong, elementary, junior high, and high school will have some great things as well. Those friends that you made in preschool will still be with you. Although as you move on in your schooling, those friends will now be competitors. Instead of playing together you will compete with each other for awards, spots on sports teams, and class ranking. If you are lucky you will come out on top.

My last piece of advice is for you to never lose your hope. If you are fortunate enough you will have a teacher willing to make learning as fun for you as it was here in preschool. This teacher will allow you to think outside the box and allow your natural creativity to flow. They will encourage you to be more than a number on a standardized test or a grade on a report card.

Teachers outside of the preschool world, if you are in the audience I ask you a favor. Look at these bright and enthusiastic faces. They have a love for learning and treasure every day at school. Do whatever is in your power to keep them this way as long as possible. Don’t squash it with test prep, awards competitions, and overly standardized learning.

In closing, my most heartfelt congrats to you and the work you have done in the past two years. Keep the memory of the past two years in your mind and never forget what is possible when you love learning and let your curiosity lead your way.


Zane G. Porter said...

Great use of Satire. I enjoyed reading your post, and I have a son that is moving on to kindergarten next year. It was so weird to talk about his 'testing accommodations' in his IEP meeting for KINDERGARTEN! I don't want to homeschool, but it might be our best option to keep creativity and natural learning alive. Thanks again for the post.

Marialice B.F.X. Curran said...

Powerful! It makes me so sad. Fostering curiosity should be the focus no matter what age or grade.

Lauren said...

Fantastic, beautiful letter. As a pre-service teacher, this reminds me again of what I want my classroom to be and how I want to teach. This makes me more determined to provide a fun, open and engaging classroom for my students to grow in.

Mary Bauer said...

This was sad and funny at the same time. I have been teaching elementary school for the last twenty years. It is hard to see the trend that what is tested is what is taught, period. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one with a wider vision. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Very true . . . and sad. This is why I moved from doing therapy with public school students to running an authentic Montessori school. Love of learning - learning HOW to learn - is fostered every single day at out school. I see it in my own children and in the other students. Why can't this way of learning be accessible to every child in elementary and middle school??? Oh, right. Because we have all that testing to teach to as dictated by . . . ???

Dean said...

As an elementary school principal of a Pre-k to 3rd grade school, I appreciate the wisdom of the 'speech'.

We want children to have a love of learning. Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA - currently known as No Child Left Behind) must be done to remove the high stakes testing if we have any chance of preserving that natural curiosity and creativity.

Nasreen Naeemullah said...

I agree that student's creativity is being put to the side as they enter elementary, junior, and high school. It is very unfortunate because learning should be fun, not just about grades and testing. This rigid form of schooling will cause a lot of students to lose some interest in school. Creativity is a must as some students need to be challenged this way. The good news is that Kindergarten and the early elementary grades use creativity sometimes. The bad news is that creativity gets removed from students' education as they progress through the grades. Thank goodness for teachers who really think outside of the box because like you said, no matter what is required of testing, these teachers will still incorporate creativity in the classroom.

SandyS said...

It saddens me that this is so true!