Celebrating Milestones

By Sonia Dettweiler1

Children need to share what they are learning, and your family needs to have celebrations or special times children can look forward to and depend on with a degree of confidence. A formal family sharing time once a week can accomplish an effective equivalent to “show and tell.” This includes all members of the family, whether it is the family member who spent the week cutting a tooth or whether it was daily routines or work goals parents accomplished (or made progress toward). Children benefit from knowing what parents do and how they (the children) can help. If children are schooled at home, an audience to help motivate effort and persistence is essential.


Showing and sharing with the family involved is a good relaxed time to do some assessment (gathering information) about the unit just completed. Informally assess and record the student learning that took place by gathering some information in a nonstressful setting with people to encourage your student and celebrate progress.

You can share thoughts on the unit theme or on a certain topic, using listening skills and practicing asking questions that keep the focus on the person talking. (Holding a microphone or a microphone-substitute helps remind everyone whose turn it is to talk and who should be listening.) Some ideas for topics to discuss are:

Hobbies can be shared or started. An evening can be spent singing each person’s favorite song. One family project we worked on (and still go back to occasionally) was “A World Book of Friends” in which we wrote about special friends, categorized by the country they are from.

Both parents and children can share something meaningful from their week or demonstrate a newly acquired accomplishment. It is important for children to learn that adults struggle too, and this honest sharing can allow parents to model appropriate responses to failures and difficulties. Through times of sharing, a family can support one another and celebrate growing, learning, and overcoming obstacles together.


Special food is a big part of celebrations at our house. We try to fix something that goes along with the unit theme. When the boys were in kindergarten, we focused on a different letter of the alphabet each week. For the B week celebration we made brownies, C was chocolate chip cookies (what else?), D was doughnuts…. Now our themes cover two weeks, so we have our celebration every two weeks. For our Wild Animals theme, we had a picnic outside with Ostrich-Egg Salad Sandwiches, Tiger Tomatoes, Gorilla Gorp, Antelope Apples, Beaver Bananas, and Pink Flamingo Lemonade.


We often play games at our family celebrations. We play math games or other board games that go with the theme (“Pin the Tail on the Donkey” for our animal theme). Here are some other possible activities:


In addition to weekly celebrations, we have Half Graduation (at the conclusion of the first semester) and Graduation (at the conclusion of the year). It is good for the students to review their year’s work and to have a chance to show off their favorite projects. By displaying writing samples from early and late in the year, growth can be seen and admired. Invite visitors, so the students will have an audience.

For the Half Graduation, we had a menu of half-snacks such as half sandwiches, half cupcakes, half glasses of drink on paper plates cut in half.

For Graduation, these are a few of the ways we celebrated:

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