Posted on

Celebrate the move to Big School with a Virtual Graduation Ceremony

We are currently living in a time that is unpredictable and it is reasonable to say that we don’t fully know when things will get back to complete normality – if ever. Many events and celebrations with large numbers have already been cancelled or postponed until later in the year or even until next year as social distancing is not something that can be adhered to. This may include your own special graduation event for the children in your service who have completed their time at preschool and are heading to Primary School. This is a big milestone for young children as they transition from preschool onto the next stage of their education. You can avoid it being a missed opportunity for them to spend one last occasion with the families and friends of all their class to recognise their own personal development and all they have achieved over the last years. 

In the last number of weeks we have all tweaked how to communicate remotely and are going online for many things, both in home and work life. Many services have already adapted to working online to carry out one to one lessons with the children, to do live facebook for story telling, art, exercise and yoga classes and many other activities. Out of necessity, virtual contact over the internet has become our new normal. So instead of cancelling your graduation ceremony completely why not change to a Virtual Graduation Ceremony! Asking the parents and families to take part in a virtual graduation ceremony may seem strange initially but most are already familiar with video calls. Here are some ideas that you might like to consider for your virtual graduation:

  1. Send Invitations to the children
    • Decide on a theme for your graduation and create a colourful invitation to send to the parents and children. 
    • If you are within 5km of the children’s homes you can hand deliver your invitations on your daily walk or you can send them out electronically to your closed communication group. 
  2. Deliver Graduation Certificates and Gowns
    • Along with the invitation, you could also send out a graduation gown and certificate for each child. Obviously this may only work where the children live within 5km of your service as it would be costly to post out to each child. 
    • Each child could wear their robe and cap on the day as they would on the day of their normal graduation. 
  3. Hall of Fame
    • In the lead up to your Virtual Graduation you could create a ‘Wall of Fame’ on your closed communication group.
    • Post up a few children per day until the day before the graduation, to include a photo of the child with a few sentences about each one.
    • After each child is posted on your closed communication group you can then create a collage of all the children and post the collage to your page on the day of your virtual graduation. 
    • The few sentences could include what it is the child liked at school and what their personality brought to the classroom. 
    • You could also get in touch with the children through their parents and ask for their favourite memory from their school year and what they will miss about it and include that also.
    • If you prefer not to put photos of the children up you could post a piece of their work from the school year instead and add a few sentences about the child.
  4. Songs, Nursery Rhymes and Poems
    • As it will be difficult for everyone to practice as a group, get in touch with parents and ask them if they could practice a couple of chosen songs or nursery rhymes familiar to the children and already learned in class. They can then all sing along together on graduation day..
    • Depending on the size of your class and the time you have allocated for your virtual graduation you could also ask each child to prepare their own poem or song and they can recite or sing it on the call. 
  5. The virtual call
    • Decide on the platform you will use for the virtual graduation. Zoom is the most popular one being used worldwide at the moment as it can have many people on at once and is also free. However, there are also other ones such as Google Hangouts, Houseparty and Google Duo so ensure you do your research before you start!
    • Send instructions well in advance to parents and ask them to acquaint themselves with the application so that everyone is familiar with it and knows how to log in on the day. You could get in touch with each parent prior to the event to ensure that they have everything in place for the call. 
    • Ensure that you are in a well lit room with the best connection to your broadband to ensure a high quality call.
    • You can decorate the space behind you with balloons, banners and posters so that the children get a sense of their graduation celebration. We can help with printing banners for you.
    • You can also ask parents to prepare some small snacks and refreshments for themselves and the children to have during the ceremony. This again gives the children a sense of being part of it without being physically there. 
    • Try to follow a plan that is similar to what you would do in a regular graduation. Include a welcome, a brief message of support about the current situation, honour the children with their graduation certs, music and songs, any other entertainment, thank you and goodbyes.
    • Bear in mind that this will be a new experience for everyone on the call including yourself, so just try to relax and make it fun for the children and families. This is now part of the child’s story and how they lived through the Covid-19 pandemic!