Celebrating Transitions in the Early Years
The end of the school year is a time for celebration by young children, their families, teachers, and caregivers. It’s a time to acknowledge children’s growth and development, and celebrate the skills and concepts they have learned. But sometimes controversy can arise over preschool graduation ceremonies. Some families and programs see "graduation" as an important symbol to recognize their child and to celebrate. Others worry that too much pomp and circumstance can lead to frustration, stress, embarrassment, and sometimes humiliation for many young children. The important thing is to acknowledge the validity of both perspectives. Administrators, teachers, and parents can then work together to plan activities that not only celebrate the transition, but also are meaningful for children and fun for everyone involved. Here are some ways to consider celebrating.
- Have a children’s fair to display a sampling of the children’s art work done throughout the year.
- These exhibits can include a brief description of each piece of art dictated by the child, or a photograph of the child working on the art project.
- Organize a family picnic.
- Invite all of the families in the class to participate in games, storytelling, and sing-alongs. Allow the children to serve refreshments to their families to display their social skills as hosts and hostesses.
- Invite teachers from the schools where the children will attend.
- Meeting before the school year begins can foster early positive relationships between the teachers and children. If many of the children will be attending different schools, they can make little books to collect the telephone numbers of their classmates in order to keep in touch with each other. The children will be engaged in a meaningful learning activity and have a great time writing down the numbers.
- Publish books of the children’s favorite things, poems, and sayings.
- Allow them to present their books to their families.
- Plan a family meal.
- Invite the families to a potluck meal at the center or school on the last day of the school year. The children can play an active part by suggesting menu items or making decorations.
- Share the memories
- Videotape or create a photo album over the year to share growth and changes with children and families at year’s end.
- Prepare for the next class
- Young children enjoy "cleaning up." They can help their teacher prepare for the next year’s incoming class by putting away crayons and removing calendars and artwork from the walls. This will provide them an opportunity to revisit past projects and to select "treasures" to take home.
- Take a field trip to the new school or room which many of the children will attend.
- Encourage the children to sit in the chairs, go to the cafeteria, use the bathrooms, and visit the playground. Back in your classroom, talk about the school you visited. How is it like your classroom? How is it different? Reassure the children that they will be able to learn more, meet new friends, and have a good new year.
Bredekamp, S. & Copple, C., eds. 1997. Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs. Rev. ed. Washington, DC: NAEYC. #234/$8
Reprinted with the permission of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. © 2008 NAEYC
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