It’s spring! Leaves unfurl, flowers bloom, and young children get ready to leave the nest. Here comes the end of the school year—a time to celebrate how much they’ve grown. Read how a few programs celebrate the end of year and share your own ideas below.
“Celebrating growth and saying good-bye is such an important part of what we do,” says Marcia Pioppi-Galazzi, director of The Family School in Brewster, Massachusetts. “Children don’t notice their own growth and competency. They know the ‘now.’ It’s our job to point out what they’ve accomplished. That’s what we’re really celebrating this time of year.”
Prepare for change
At The Family School, festivities begin three weeks before the end of the year with Grandparent’s Day. Grandparents or special friends join children. They do an activity together, sing together, and the children show their guests around. Pioppi-Galazzi says that this is the first sign for the children that things are changing.
The next week parents and friends are invited for a Strawberry Festival celebration with live music and a picnic. Finally, the school hosts a “Year in Review” celebration for its four- to six-year-olds; family and friends attend a brief play and enjoy finger sandwiches and a good-bye cake. The children bring their guests into the classroom to see a retrospective of their work, which goes home with them at the end of the day.
“Celebrate” instead of “graduate”
You won’t hear the word “graduation” this time of year at Sunnyside Child Care Center at Smith in Northampton, Massachusetts. Director Susan Beemer explains, “We say ‘celebration’ because young children don’t really understand the concept of graduation.”
“It’s important to acknowledge transitions in ways that are developmentally appropriate,” says Beemer. “The younger children here celebrate with a casual pizza party that marks the last time they’ll be together as a group (until the fall) with this set of teachers.”
The five- and six-year-olds host an art show. The children visit a gallery in town, choose a piece of their own artwork to be framed, and display it on the fence surrounding the playground for parents and friends to see. Children also take home a certificate and a portfolio of work from their entire stay at the center. Beemer remarks, “They get to see their growth from their first marks on paper to intricate self-portraits.” Now there’s something to celebrate!
How do you celebrate?
How does your program mark the end of the year for children and their families?