Celebrating School Milestones

By Mike Johnson

Timely topics

One of the many beautiful things about having multiple kids is that my wife and I get to anticipate the ups and downs that our daughters will go through during the various phases of their academic journeys.


Our oldest daughter, who is going into high school next year, was our first look into these phases and school milestones. Our other three daughters are hitting their phases differently – with their own strengths and challenges – but there has definitely been a theme of specific milestones that are consistent with all of the kids.


We’re not talking about A’s on tests or really nailing a science project – it’s bigger than that. They’re those defining moments that we as parents want to bottle up in hopes that our kids grow up to be life-long learners.



In our experience, preschool- and kindergarten-aged kids can’t wait to finally get “big kid homework.” They incorporate it into playtime. They try to mimic the worksheets and reading exercises of their older siblings. When they finally get to grade school and get that first “real” homework, it’s always exciting and for the first year or so, it stays that way.


If anything, homework is important because it introduces the importance of strong study skills to kids. It’s not so much the work as it is building healthy strategies around time management and study habits. As a young student, getting those first homework worksheets is exciting and definitely something to celebrate.


Card-carrying reader

It’s just my opinion, but I feel like beginning readers are the most exciting students to be around at any point of the academic journey. When a kid starts to string those words together and begins to devour books, it’s such a fun time.


You will find few people with more swagger than kids that have just learned to read. They want to read to everyone and show off their newfound skills. A key challenge in the parent/teacher partnership is trying to maintain that level of enthusiasm across the entire educational journey.


The student becomes the teacher

This one can take place in varying phases of a kid’s education. It may happen in middle school. It could happen in high school. But it’s going to happen. Your kid is going to come home and teach you some things. This is absolutely a milestone worth celebrating.


The fact that maybe mom and dad aren’t great at math isn’t what makes this particular milestone so monumental; what makes it special is that fact that your child has found something that truly compelling and he or she has the tools to break it down and explain it to the parents. It’s a great moment and a huge collective win for the teacher, the parents and the student.


You’re not in it alone

If there is any moment that should be celebrated, it’s the first time that kids say “I don’t get this.” The act of asking for help and realizing that their education is an open dialogue and a collaborative process is a huge moment. It should be greeted with enthusiasm and a constant reassurance that smart kids always ask for help.


What school milestones does your family celebrate? Tell us in the comments below!