One of the first rites of passage for young children is the preschool graduation ceremony. While parents and other families are always very excited about this moment, the kids may not realize how momentous of an occasion it truly is. There are many ways you can make the event special for them as it is for their families.
Personalizing Preschool Graduation
This event is going to be the first academic graduation for the children and their parents. One way to help them understand the importance of their accomplishment is to spend time during the weeks before graduation helping the children plan their own graduation.
Use a pattern to make a Graduation Cap out of construction paper. They can all be of one color such as the traditional blue or black, or you can have them decorate them with glitter, tassels, and more. Explain that this is a special cap, worn by children who have finished all of preschool and are ready to go on to kindergarten.
Snacks and Treats
A day or so before the graduation, work with the kids to bake some "graduation treats." There doesn't necessarily have to be any baking involved, but they can decorate the cookies with frosting, sprinkles, and other treats. Celebrations.com has several recipes for "graduation treats". If you'd like to keep things more healthy, they suggest working elementary vocabulary ("A is for Apple") into the treats, which can be another craft idea.
There are several ways to commemorate the accomplishments of the year. Ask students to draw their favorite activity and use their drawings to create a gallery for parents to look at. Another idea is to think about the future; hang up large pictures of each child and ask him to tell what he'd like to be when he grows up. These can be illustrated with collages, pictures, or even a video of the children telling what their hopes are. Again, Celebrations.com has several decoration ideas for making the room look festive.
Many preschool teachers and parents share their experiences and ideas online at sites like the Perpetual Preschool. It's a good idea to read through these and discuss them with the teachers and parents who want to be involved.
At the Ceremony
Parents can help make this a special day as well. Encourage parents to wear nice clothes, making this a 'fancy occasion'. Leave some time at the beginning of the celebration for the children to show their families the crafts that they've created and any displays such as the Memory Wall. It's a chance for their families to learn about their preschool and how the preschooler experienced the year.
Keep it Short and Simple
In terms of the ceremony itself, it's a good idea to remember that children have fairly short attention spans and that parents have busy lives. It's traditional to play "Pomp and Circumstance" at any graduation, but you may also want to let the children sing a song about graduation, recite a graduation poem, or do a medley of their favorite songs learned over the course of the year. The teacher should be able to say a few words about the year and congratulate the children, but preschool graduation is not a good place for long speeches.
Delight in the Diploma
Call the children's names out one by one and have them come up, wearing their caps proudly, to get their diplomas. It's very easy to find beautiful full-color diplomas for the kids, or simpler versions of downloadable printables that the children could color themselves.
Some graduation ceremonies include a small plant as a gift with the certificate, but be careful with this kind of plan, because not all homes are set up to care for plants. It's also a good idea to have the children go back to sit with their parents after they get the diploma, so they are comfortable while the rest of the children go through matriculation. After the last one has been handed out, the children can all come back up to the front so that parents can get those all-important first graduation pictures at the same time.
The First of Many Special Days
These are just a few ideas to get you started. As long as the focus is on the children and the work they've accomplished over the year, you can be sure that their first graduation will be unforgettable. Every child, every class, and every school is different, so the ceremonies and memories should be different as well, as uniquely special as the smiles on everyone's faces during this momentous celebration.