Do We Really Need a Graduation for Preschool?
I have struggled with this question over the years, and more so the last few when we’ve only had preschoolers in our class. Fancy graduation ceremonies for preschool have always left me feeling uneasy. Many of the typical graduation rituals seem so… developmentally inappropriate for this age group. But the more I ponder this, the more I realize it’s important to take a moment to mark important milestones in the lives of our children, and in our own lives.
Our little preschoolers are moving on to Kindergarten at a “big school”. They are entering the world of school buses and recess and hallways. They can sense that they are stepping into a new phase. Parents too are getting that jittery feeling that their little ones are not so little anymore. The children who will be returning next year need some acknowledgement that things will be different when they come back. Many of their friends and mentors will be gone. They need closure.
So, we pause, and we party, and we say goodbye.
Here are a few pictures from our simple Montessori graduation.
Our very last circle time of the year was dedicated to goodbye hugs (and a few handshakes)
The entire school community gathered at the home of one of our families. It was a rainy rainy day as Tropical Storm Andrea skirted past our town. We sat down together, barefoot, in the spacious basement. Our graduates made a circle at the front and put on their graduation caps.
I offer you peace
I offer you love
I offer you friendship
I hear your cry
I see your beauty
I feel your pain
This caring flows from my spirit within
I salute that spirit in you
Let us work together for peace
(adapted from Gandhi by Aline Wolf. Available here)
Each graduate came up to shake hands with their teacher and receive a keepsake “diploma”. The diploma has a picture of the class and a modified version of the peace blessing. It says nothing about completing a course of study or graduating. It says simply that we recognize this child for enriching our lives with his/her joyful presence.
This is a picture from a few years ago when we made our own graduation caps. You can find the instructions here. This year we decided to cut down on the prep time and order some reusable ones. We loved the caps we found at Oriental Trading! They stayed on without any clips or pins (phew!)
Class of 2013
Seemi holds a Master's degree in education, and an AMS Early Childhood credential. She has twenty years of experience in Montessori as a teacher, school administrator, and school owner. Seemi is the founder of TrilliumMontessori.org.