Saturday, 26 July 2014

Why Have A Graduation Ceremony?

There have been lots of photos in the last few weeks of nursery/preschool children & their various Graduation ceremonies floating around the internet on social media sites. I also saw the idea of wearing gaps & gowns has spread to some primaries for their leavers too. It's a weird concept for me, especially as we don't even have graduation ceremonies until leaving university here in the U.K.
However, whilst I personally don't understand the need for gowns & caps as if the children were actual graduates, I do see the worth of a graduation or leavers ceremony to mark the end of a preschool year.
teach in a nursery unit attached to a primary school, the majority of the children in my class continue onto the primary, so therefore we don't call our end of year ceremony a leavers one but rather their graduation. Nursery is still very different to primary, despite new curriculums & the children are graduating from one system to another.
It is also our only public ceremony where the children perform for an audience as we have done away with a Christmas performance. As this usually takes place at the end of first term, I felt the children were not ready to go up on a stage & perform for their parents, some were always too shy or unsure to even go on the stage. Also, first term is all about settling-in & stopping routines to rehearse is not a good idea.
For the past 10 years we have just had a graduation ceremony, it is very low key. The children perform songs & rhymes they have already learned throughout the school year, learning only one new specific song for the day. They decorate cardboard crowns to wear on the day & as we usually wear a uniform, they wear their own clothes for the ceremony.
We practise on the stage in the big school 3 times before the actual day, this is plenty in my opinion; the first day it is all a novelty & by day 3 we usually have some of the older classes come to watch to give the children the sense of an audience.
Each child gets a certificate from the Principal of the school & this gives her a chance to chat individually to each child. The certificate celebrates all that they have achieved in their year at nursery.


It has become the tradition for the nursery staff to provide food for a small celebratory family party afterwards & this gives us all a chance to give something back to the children & their parents & wider family. It is also a lovely relaxed time when we get to chat to the parents & grandparents & celebrate the achievements of the ceremony & the whole year.
For the past 3 years the children have had their graduation ceremony on their last day of school, it helps to end the school year on a high note. 
So whilst I am particularly in favour of going down the cap & gown route I do value having a graduation ceremony.

6 comments:

  1. My daughter had a graduation ceremony when she left nursery, and at first I thought it was rather a strange idea. However when we watched the ceremony and listened to songs and the stories I was really emotional and thought it was a great way of celebrating a big year of my daughter life. We had a lovely tea party after and talked with parents and teachers and it was a wonderful afternoon. Something that I was glad we were a part of!

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    1. That is exactly the reason they do work when done properly, a lovely chance to mix with the staff & other parents & celebrate what is an important year in the educational journey.

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  2. We do have a graduation ceremony and my parents and the children love it. Whether caps and gowns are used or not, I think the main things it to keep the ceremony focused on what the kids have enjoyed all throughout the school year so that they enjoy their day!

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    1. Agreed Deborah & actually as you have graduation with caps & gowns from High School in the U.S, it's not as bizarre a concept for preschool as it is over here!

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  3. Ceremonies and traditions are important to mark transitions. Each community finds a way to celebrate and to observe the important moments in time. They get to decide what is meaningful and THAT is beautiful.

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    1. Another valid point, Lesley x

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