Kristina Hernandez: I'm a mom and I've had enough of end-of-year school award ceremonies

If sitting in a packed gym, classroom, or banquet hall while half-heartedly clapping for kids you don’t know who are receiving awards sounds like your idea of fun, then you deserve your own recognition.

The end of the school year is typically filled with invitations to graduations, sports banquets, and grade level award ceremonies. While I am proud of my own children and their accomplishments, is it truly necessary to sit through an hour-plus ceremony to celebrate those achievements? No. And I don’t even feel guilty about it.

Parenting success isn’t measured by how many recognition ceremonies you’re able to sit through, thankfully. Raising kids who work hard in school or sports and excel in those areas is important. I just don’t think we need to sit through an hour-long gymnastics show for preschoolers who show off the fact they can bounce on a trampoline. Or attend a middle-of-the-day class party with citizenship and perfect attendance awards for my elementary-aged child.

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Perfect attendance, by the way, is terrible. It only encourages parents to send their kids to school when they are sick just to earn an award that has zero long-term worth.

Kristina Hernandez's children (Courtesy of the author)

Kristina Hernandez's children (Courtesy of the author)

Rope swinging into a lake in South Carolina (Courtesy of the author)

Rope swinging into a lake in South Carolina (Courtesy of the author)

For parents who work full-time, some of these ceremonies are impossible to attend, which inevitably makes their child feel bad or left out. Awards can just as easily be sent home with the child. I enjoy when my kids’ teachers come up with awards to highlight the strengths of their students. However, I don’t have the desire, or frankly, the time to sit through a presentation of said awards to the whole class.

Parents shouldn’t be guilted into attending award ceremonies for their kids. They should be free to celebrate their child’s achievements in whatever way they want.

Bigger graduation ceremonies from high school or college are important but really, do we need them to be hours long? Actress Goldie Hawn spoke at my college graduation and just about put everyone to sleep. Do the whole cap and gown and diploma presentation and be done with it.

I’ve skipped one of my kid’s award nights entirely - and wish I had done so for others - because I had to work. She didn’t miss it and honestly, I didn’t feel bad about it. I’ve been guilted into attending others because I felt like my kids may be missing something if they didn’t go.

But no more. My time is too precious with my kids to stay trapped for hours in one place wishing I was in another. There are other ways to celebrate the achievements of my children like taking them to their favorite restaurant or doing a one-on-one date night them. If they are older, a trip somewhere special would be fun and memorable.

I barely remember my graduation ceremonies. I do remember the celebration dinners with family. Memories of us laughing together and enjoying the fleeting time before I left home for good are still with me. This is what I want to create for my children and if skipping ceremonies is the way to do it, it’s a better use of my time.

Kids certainly deserve to be recognized for their achievements but there are better ways to do it than all the terribly boring events synonymous with end of the year awards.

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Some schools will hold nights at the end of the year where student art, writing, or other accomplishments are displayed and they can show their parents what they’ve done and then leave. No boring reading of 20-plus names and speeches.

Parents shouldn’t be guilted into attending award ceremonies for their kids. They should be free to celebrate their child’s achievements in whatever way they want. For my kids and I, it will be somewhere fun, far away from a crowded gym or classroom, where we can make memories that will last longer than any boring awards ceremony.

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