Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Preschool Graduation: 5 Tips To Successful End of the Year Preschool Programs

Moving on to Kindergarten is a big deal!  It's a transition that is exciting for the preschoolers, their families, and to US and it should be celebrated!

With that said there is something we need to remember:  The program can be either fun and enriching OR it can be streesful and a time of dread for all involved!  Which one will be determined by your focus during the planning!

I do not think we should "do" s program simply because "it's what we've always done" or "the parents think it's cute".

Don't get me wrong, I'm ALL about celebrating this milestones--as long as the children's abilities and needs are the main focus during our planning.

When planning preschool graduation, many times we foget some things.

We forget that our children are still preschoolers.

We forget that they have just recently learned how to engage succssfully in cooperative play.

We forget that a large, whole-group production may be beyond their mastery!!

Now, I repeat, I am not against group programs!  I LOVE them when done well and planned with the children's abilities in mind.

Your group last year may have reenacted a skit wonderfully.

This year, however, your children this year may be at a different level emotionally, choronologically and developmentally.  You may have children with much higher activity levels than you did last year!

Each group is different!  Don't become "stuck" on a specific program or think you need to do the same program every year.

I have some tips for you as you begin to plan your end of the year program!

Tip 1:  Base your program on what your children already know and love.

Choose their favorite theme, topic or story from the year.  Build your program with that as the base.

How about some of these themes:  

Preschool Is Hoppin'; Fairy Tales: Preschool Style; Baby, It's Cold Outside; It's A Zoo Around Here

They are all based on preschool favorite stories!  

You can read the details of each one here on my Preschool Plays Ideas page.  

Tip 2:  Choose Concert Songs based on what they ALREADY know.

Prepare well in advance.  Don't teach children new songs or plays to learn 3 weeks before a program date!  

There are many Concert Ideas you can create based on your students' favorites!  

A few favorites of ours have been:  
  • Preschool Movin & Goovin' Theme
  • Fun on the Farm; Nursery Rhyme Time
  • Splash 'n Sing Theme
  • Travel Time
  • Whole World Concert
  • Art Show & Concert Combo
A couple of colleagues also added these ideas:
  • Snoepie's Farmyard Fun
  • The Toyshop
You can read the details of each one here on my Preschool Concerts Ideas page.  

Tip 3:  Define Their Personal Space, but DON'T sweat the small stuff!  

Provide circle mats or carpet squares set up on the area you will use.  This allows the children to have their own personal space and allow families to see their child.

But, don't stress about scenarios such as: "What if a child starts hopping around during a song?"  

Just accept that it may or will happen!  Rather than planning how to prevent it, plan for what to do when it happens!

Remember, they are PRESCHOOLERS!  They will be excited during the program.  They will (some of them) be nervous during the program with all those adults watching them!

If a child starts hopping around, have a "bag of tricks" ready!  

You could change up the order of your program at the last minute!  Don't be afraid to do that!  The children are singing their favorite songs--THEY don't care about the order they sing them in!

More on this in Tip #5.

Tip 4:  Expect preschool behavior, not elementary behavior! 

Take a potty run before the program...and no, they can NOT hold it!  Take a walk to the bathroom before the program and insist that eachy child "tries" before the program.  

Expect one of your children to decide that their dress or shirt looks really cool when it flares out and they twirl around....and for them to twirl a couple of times! 

Expect them to be excited and wave to their family mid song!  

As Billy Dean sings, "Let Them Be Little" (get out the tissues before you listen to this song!). Yes, redirect them, but expect your preschoolers to act like preschoolers!

Tip 5:  Plan for the Wiggles:  They Happen! 

Expect them because they WILL happen in the middle of your program!  

There are many things you can do do handle the wiggles.  It's no different than what you might do to help children refocus during Circle Time!

Use some "tried and true" songs you've used throughout the year.  Here are several:  
  • Baby Bumblebee
  • If You're Happy and You Know I
  • This is the Way
  • Wiggle Moves
  • Wiggle Song
  • Point to Me
  • Open Shut Them
  • Wiggle Wobble
You can read the words to each here on my Working Out the Preschool Wiggles page 


Enjoy this fun transition time with your children and their families!  Plan it to be a celebration with the children and you won't feel stressed by it!

You'll find links to all the pages in this article here on my main Preschool Concerts and Plays Page 


I have always had mixed age groups and wanted different diplomas and/or certificates for each group of children and sometimes different ones for different children.  

For example, in my 3-5 year old class, they all received a certificate of completion but some of our my students were moving on to Kindergarten.  I wanted those children's diplomas to reflect that but wanted all the diplomas to have the same style.  

There were colleagues who also wanted diplomas for their children who were completing Kindergarten.

I created a packet of EDITABLE Preschool Graduation Diplomas.  
You can check them out here on my Preschool Diploma Page here  

I also have many articles all about Preschool Graduation covering ideas for gifts to make for and with the children, how to plan your Graduation Speech that you'll deliver to the parents, graduation activities, poems and more!

You'll find those articles here on my Preschool Graduation 101 page

Happy Planning!


About the author
Cheryl Hatch has taught and directed preschool programs for over 20 years.  She is the Creator and Owner of Preschool Plan It, a website dedicated to sharing preschool themes, activities, articles and training with early childhood educators.  She volunteers as the coordinator and teacher of the MOPPETS program in her town (a preschool program for the M.O.P.S.--Mothers of Preschoolers Program).  She has her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education.  Cheryl has been an active, integral member and leader within the Teachers.Net Early Childhood community for many years, moderating live chats and providing peer support on the Preschool Teachers Chatboard.  You can read Cheryl’s articles, activities and themed preschool lesson plans at www.preschool-plan-it.com 

1 comment:

  1. Great ideas, Cheryl! At the school where I teach music, when I arrived they had a stand-in-a-line-and-sing type program for parents. A child could cry, have an accident, etc. Over time I evolved the day to being a time for parents to observe a typical music class - kids basically not paying much attention to the audience around them, and enjoying making music. Then everyone went back to their classrooms for treats and playtime. No more tears - pretty fun! I think your suggestions are perfect to steering toward more developmentally appropriate, enjoyable programs that kids and parents will remember for all the right reasons!


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