Preschool Graduation Ideas: Planning for the Big Day!
It’s that time of year and you need to start thinking about preschool graduation ideas! Where do you begin??
Whether it’s your first year teaching or you just want to mix things up a bit (sick of singing the same songs year after year?), The Preschool Professor has lots of preschool graduation ideas for you!
Let's talk about the bigger considerations and then we'll look at the details of the program and the many resources to help you plan your Graduation Ceremony!
The details of your graduation program will be easier to plan once you've decided on the bigger, "logistical" pieces.
We need to consider and plan "The 5 W's and the H" of preschool graduation ideas and planning!
Let's Get Started!
The 5 W's And the H of Preschool Graduation Ideas!
What?! Well, as when we plan any presentation, we need to look at:
1. Why? Celebrating Milestones!
The transition from preschool to kindergarten marks a very important step in a child’s life. It is only appropriate to celebrate this moment with an event that will be as memorable as the rest of the year was.
2. Where? Location, Location, Location!
The first thing you will want to decide is the location where you will hold the preschool graduation ceremony. You have many options for location for preschool graduation ideas! Deciding on where will depend on how many people will be attending. Many times grandparents, aunts, uncles, and neighbors may be invited in addition to the preschooler and his or her direct family! The location you choose will need to accommodate seating for everyone!
You may have few or many choices available. Some might be:
In your classroom
In a larger room (such as the cafeteria, gymnasium or other room in your facility).
In a local facility such as the local high school or church
In your playground!
Outside is a great idea if you can do it! You can set up chairs for families and have a fun, informal but moving ceremony.
If you choose outside, consider ahead of time the following:
Access to an electrical outlet (for a microphone, DVD player or CD player).
Back-up plan for inclement weather (where inside can you move it to if it rains?).
My personal preference is a location that is already familiar to the children. Remember, they are still preschoolers and new places and environments are sometimes difficult to adapt to. It creates anxiety and nervousness in many children (and adults)!
When I directed a preschool in a church, we used to have the celebration in the Sanctuary. There was plenty of room for families to sit (in the pews) and the children were higher up in the chancel area (you know, that area where the Pastor stands during Sunday worship service).
This was the tradition for years. We would all go upstairs for rehearsals often before the big day.
One year, we were not able to use the Sanctuary. The carpets had some issues and were being replaced it was off limits to everyone for the week!
EEK! Panic! Our only other option was to hold the ceremony in the "big room" (as the children called it) just outside the classroom.
This was the Fellowship Hall of the church. It is a room we used for an "indoor playground" in bad weather.
After the ceremony, so many parents (who had children in our preschool program over the years) commented on how much they LOVED having graduation in this room instead of in the Sanctuary!
The children were more comfortable because it was a familiar space to them. The parents felt it was more intimate because they weren't so far away from where they children were standing! It became the new tradition from that year on!
Ultimately, you will need to decide the spaces available to you and once you make that decision, you can move on to the next "W" of preschool graduation ideas and planning....
3. When? Setting the Day and Time
This is another piece that leave us with many options to choose from. What day do you have the program on? During the week? On a Saturday? And what time of day do you hold it? During class time? In the evening? This will depend on who is planning to attend.
During the Preschool Hours
Some teachers prefer to schedule a short but sweet ceremony during the last preschool day.
The advantage is that you know that most of your students will be there as arrangements are already made for their children to be at school at that time. But, in my opinion, this is the BOLD ONLY benefit.
Their are many disadvantages to this (and the reason why we hold an evening graduation):
Parents may not be able to get time off from their jobs during the day or
Only one parent will be able to get time off and attend
Other family members (Grandparents especially!) LOVE to attend these celebrations of milestones and may not be able to attend during the day.
During a Weekend
Many preschools hold their celebrations on a Saturday or Sunday. They are planned (the date) in advance so that families are aware at the beginning of the year.
This can work out very well. However, you will need to consider the time of year. May and June are a very busy time for many other graduations as well such as High School and College Graduations. In addition, many schools have field days or other gatherings for their students and schools at this time of year.
Many of your preschoolers will have siblings, cousins or other family members who have these events going on. So, weekends can be tricky in May and June.
Many preschools plan their celebration for an evening. This has been the option that has worked best for us over the years.
The considerations for an evening celebration is the timing. It is usually best if held after dinner time and being certain it ends before preschool bedtime!
This has been the option that worked best for us through the years. We held the celebration from 6:00-7:30. One hour for the program and 1/2 hour for hanging out together and enjoying some snackage!
Once you have the location, the day and the time decided (and honestly, I recommend that you decide on this at the beginning of each school year!), you are ready to move on to the next "W" of preschool graduation ideas and planning.......
4. What? Informing and Communicating the Program with Families
You may have just recently chosen the day, time and place. You may have chosen it at the beginning of the year and sent it out on your annual event calendar.
Regardless, it is time to begin the stream of communication about the details of your program!
What is the best way to do this? ANY and EVERY way you can! Do not solely rely on the newsletter---you know, the one that is sometimes found in the bottom of the backpack or in their cubbies or mailboxes weeks after it was distributed? ;)
As with any communications, each parent has their own way of receiving information so utilize them all:
Highlight it front page and center in your newsletter
Post a colorful notice (use balloons if you want to!) on the door parents use to come in and out of the program.
Send emails to all parents
Post it on your Facebook Page
Tweet about it!
Postal Mail This is the most important: Use snail mail! What? You know, the good old-fashioned "Mail an Invitation!"!
Address it to the family and list the return address as the preschool with the child's name as well:
123 Main St.
Anytown, Your country 12345
Trust me, families WILL see and open this letter!
There are sooo many choices and ways to create invitations! I have listed them on the Preschool Graduation Resource page (coming soon!)!
So now you know where you will hold the celebration, the day and time and have sent out invitations. But HOW will you pull it all together? Glad you asked! Let's move on to the next "W" of preschool graduation ideas and planning.....
5. Who? Many Hands make Light Work!
This proverb is very true! The more help you have, the more successful and fun your celebration will be! Assign tasks from your graduation ideas list or program to families! Don't become a one engine train (or control freak! ;) ) about this!
This is a celebration...for everyone involved: The children, the families and the teachers and staff! Let's plan together!
Decide on tasks you can assign to others such as:
Snacks:A sign-up process for snacks for the graduation day (ask a parent to call parents to sign people up for snacks, plates, cups, napkins, tablecloths, etc.)
Decorations: Will your director order them? Do you have some from previous years? Also, have the children create some artwork to hang on the walls!
Props: Are your children singing songs or acting out a short play? Ask families to create or gather the props you will need either for the scenery, costumes or to go along with the songs.
Set-up: Do you need folding chairs or tables? Ask parents to loan them to you!
Clean-up: Can a family member or two stay a little later to help clean up after the program? For that matter, can any come early to set up??!
Share the excitement, including sharing the tasks! There are so many details you can delegate. There are so many details that can overwhelm you.....bringing us to our final consideration....the "H" in preschool graduation planning ideas...
6. How? Keeping It Real without Really Losing Your Mind!
First let me direct you back to the first section of this page: The "Why".
Don't forget WHY you are doing this! It is to celebrate! To enjoy the growth and development of your preschoolers--their skills AND their friendships throughout the year! And, for many of the students, it is a time to say goodbye...the most bittersweet of the "Why".
Let's remember what your graduation program is NOT for:
It is NOT to impress parents or families with our amazing recreations of Pinterest ideas (though--go for it if you enjoy it!).
It is NOT to have the children "pull off" a "perfect" program!
It is NOT to (sorry......but it should be said!) "show off" our mad skills on how well we got children to "memorize, repeat and behavie" for 45 minutes to an hour!
Relax! Enjoy this time with the students who have stolen your heart for the past year or more! Enjoy this time with the families who have entrusted their children to you for the past year or more!
Enjoy planning a program that reflects your children's interests and abilities; your program's mission and that allows you all to celebrate this milestone together!
With that said.....it's time to brainstorm more preschool graduation ideas for your Graduation Celebration!
Planning The Program Details: Preschool Graduation Ideas and Resources
Here are some pages for you to check out. I hope you find them helpful! If you have additional preschool graduation ideas to add to any of these pages, please share them! You will find a submission form at the bottom of each of the pages in which you can share your ideas! The more we share, the better prepared we are!
Hey there! Welcome to Preschool Plan It! I’m Cheryl, a preschool teacher of over 20 years.
I KNOW, I know, you spend hours of time developing your preschool themes, activities and preschool lesson plans each week. You are commited to planning preschool themes and activities that are engaging hands-on, interactive, fun AND meet the goal of supporting each child’s level of growth and development.
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