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Graduations During COVID-19 Times

We’ve heard so many interesting stories from Early Years service providers about how they celebrated graduations during Spring and Summer 2020 when it hasn’t been possible to do a traditional in-person celebration. We think it is so important to commemorate these transition times together and joyfully, and many of the early years services have gone to extraordinary lengths to make this happen!

Some have done “drive-in” graduation ceremonies where each child walks up to receive their certificate. Others have done “drive-by” graduations where the staff drove by the children’s homes so they can be photographed in their front gardens in cap and gown. Some have had graduation get-togethers via Zoom, Google Meet or other teleconferencing services.

There are a few parts to celebrating a graduation. Probably the most important part is the acknowledgment of achievement from family, friends and educators. There are also physical ways the occasion can be made more memorable for children. A graduation certificate is a lovely way to announce the achievement and gives the child something to look back on with pride in later years. Children love to dress up. Wearing a ceremonial cap and gown is a real reminder of how special the occasion is, and more importantly, that the child themselves is being celebrated for their achievement. The tassel and year charm can make a great keepsake for a memory box or hung from their bulletin board.

Graduation ceremonies are usually decorated with balloons and banners. We have heard from some early years educators that put up their graduation decorations at home so they could be seen in the background in their virtual graduations.

We’re quite impressed with the effort everyone has gone to in order to celebrate their early years graduations this year, and look forward to hearing your plans for any upcoming graduation ceremony! Hopefully everyone will have the chance to celebrate together in person.

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Make Your Graduation Ceremony a Day to Remember!

The education given to children in the early years plays a vital role in the rest of their lives. During the school year the children learn so much about themselves, about their peers and about people in their community. They also learn how to work together, how to solve problems and how things around them work. There has been a notable transformation in the children and everyone is proud of them. 

The transition from preschool to primary school is a big milestone for young children and therefore it is important to recognise their work upon completing their preschool years. Children always react positively to affirmations and praise. If we praise our children for reaching each educational milestone it will help them to have a positive association with learning and school throughout their lives. 

A great way to do this is to organise a graduation ceremony for both the children and their parents. This gives everyone the opportunity to celebrate together before the children move on to primary school. 

How to make your graduation a day to remember!

You can make your preschool graduation as simple or as fancy as you wish. The first thing is to ensure it is something that the children will be comfortable with on the day, so involving them and getting them to help in the preparation will ensure that they are on board with it. All children have varying personalities and this needs to be taken into consideration for the big day! Other things you will need to consider for the day will be;

  1. Venue – What are your options in terms of venue? Will you simply have it in the preschool setting or do you have a nice garden area you can use? There may be a local hall that can be used if you are short on space at the preschool or a park nearby that could be used for a great outdoor celebration. The size and location of the venue will help to determine what dances and songs the children can perform and how you will serve refreshments on the day (if you decide to do so). 
  2. Theme – The theme should always reflect back to the work the children have done throughout the year. The children’s artwork can be used as decoration (for example a gallery style wall) and they can perform their favourite songs and dances they have learned throughout the year. If there was a specific project that they loved during the year that could always be used as the main theme for the ceremony. For example, a caterpillar and butterfly theme from a metamorphosis project. If the children have grown any flowers or plants during the year they can use them for decorating the venue. 
  3. Invitations – Allow the children create their own invitations to their parents for the ceremony. This is another way of involving the children and ensuring they are included in their big day. They can help decide what should be written on them and who they should invite. 
  4. Photograph Slide Show – Parents love to see what their children have been up to at school so creating a slideshow of the children is a great way to see them in their school environment. Show them doing various activities, both individually and in groups. You can then display the photos on a screen or you can create photo boards for each child and hang them around the venue on the day. 
  5. Refreshments – Each service can decide if they would like to serve refreshments on the day. If you do decide to provide refreshments, keep it simple! If you are on a budget you could ask all parents to bring one dish each or donate something for the day. You can decide whether it is best to make the food or buy it. This will depend on the venue and the space you have. 
  6. Making great memories – The graduation ceremony is a really great opportunity to create family memories for the children in your service. Set up a photo booth style area where the parents can get photos with their child on their special day. The children’s artwork would be a great backdrop for this. 
  7. Eliminate Dress Code Problems – You can make your ceremony extra special and avoid any unnecessary dress code problems by using graduation gown and cap sets on the day. The investment in graduation gowns will allow for many years of colourful and bright graduation ceremonies. The gowns are made from high quality fabric that can be easily washed, stored and used for years to come. Parents, grandparents and siblings will delight to see the children in their colourful robes!