Planning A Pre-School Graduation

By Joyce Braimah (Pre-School Graduation Pro)
Nursery Manager, Hanwell Branch

It is that time of year already. Summer is upon us and all attention turns to pre-school children who will shortly leave and go to ‘Big School’ as it is fondly known. Most of the children have been with you since they were babies and it will be very hard to say good-bye.

Choose a theme for your pre-school graduation…

Graduation has come to us from across the pond as many things do and we have now embraced this culture as the norm. When planning your pre-school graduation, it is imperative to have a ‘theme’. This sets the torn for the great occasion.

Some of the themes we have had in the pass are:

  • Garden Tea Party
  • The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
  • Awards Day with red carpet rolled out (Hollywood theme)
  • Colour theme

Set the date…

Set a date and time. I find that, after the nursery is close works best as all the children have gone home and you can put all your focus and attention on making this a true momentous occasion. Failing that, another alternative will be in the afternoon from 4pm onwards may be a little quieter. Talk to the children about what they would like. You have already discussed going to ‘Big School’; you are simply asking what kind of party they would like. Their opinions should count too. We like to teach the children a song to sing together to their parents or read a poem together.

Organise your Pre-school graduation…

Once your theme, date, time is established and a budget agreed, you can start to plan. Your budget need not be grand. Give each staff a responsibility according to their strengths. This will ensure that each staff is participating in the pre-school graduation. Staff can be responsible for;

  1. Invitations (children can make these during art and craft activities), which again will make them feel involved
  2. Making and sourcing decorations
  3. Food (ensure you cater for families with allergies)
  4. Music
  5. Making certificates
  6. Arrangements for the day

Purchase your own gowns and caps, these can last a lifetime. Ensure you have enough gowns and caps for each child. As the children walk up the runway to collect their certificate of achievements, prepare a speech detailing the child’s achievements, to be read as the child walks up the runway to the stage. You can also have a video and images of the child walking up the runway playing in the background. Images from when they started at the nursery till the present time.

Preparation is key…

Before the actual day, organise some dress rehearsals so the children know what to expect. Preparation is key. Ensure the children know what is going to happen and what is coming next. We always have a staff meeting before the big day in order to prep staff. Where each staff will be should be establish, which staff member is responsible for which children (prepare staff, in the event there is a ‘flight risk’, children crying and running off the stage, what should they do)? Who is on door duty and seating parents? You must establish how many families are coming: i.e.: only parents allowed or grandparents can accompany. This of course will depend on the size of your setting/venue.

You must adhere to GDPR- no photographs to be taken and no filming to take place by guests. Make parents aware of this beforehand. This should be announced during the welcome speech as a reminder. The nursery can take photographs and give these to parents at a small cost or for free.

Important items to remember:

  • Balloons
  • Graduation cake
  • Gowns and caps
  • Favours to give out at the end
  • Food/Drinks/Treats