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Celebrating Endings in your Setting

May 12, 2016

As we approach the close of yet another year, we are mindful that for many children, the end of an era looms and a bright, exciting, possibly scary, new beginning in ‘big’ school lies in wait. The children will have spent up to five years of their lives attending your setting on a daily basis, growing and learning so much.  During this time they will have developed very close, trusting relationships with the early childhood educators and the other children. These relationships have taught them how to connect with others and have helped shape their personalities and their understanding of the world.  They have shared many discoveries and new accomplishments with everyone in the setting, creating life-long memories.  


From the parents’ perspective, they have shared the rearing of their children with you – to a greater or lesser extent – and have forged lasting relationships with the early childhood educators and other parents and children.  Each day they entrusted you with their precious children, to work with and help develop into a curious, confident and competent child.  

Early Childhood Educators

You, the early childhood educator, have spent your time building relationships with both the children and their parents.  You have shared the ups and downs, the laughter and the tears, the achievements and the disappointments with them all.  You have watched the children grow in confidence and competence and now you rightly want to celebrate this.  


There are many ways in which you can celebrate the closing of the children’s preschool experience and mark the beginning of their new and exciting road ahead in a meaningful and enriching way.  Here are some ideas that you might consider. The most important thing about the celebration is to ensure that it is significant for the children and that they and their parents are active contributors to the event. It doesn’t require expensive extras but can provide a rich and memorable experience for all involved. 


  1. Find out from the children what they are most proud of and what they would like to ‘show off’ to their parents, as well as how best they could do this.
  1. Discuss what the children would like to wear: Spiderman or Ms. Fashionista can be much more meaningful to children than a gown that signifies ‘graduation’ for adults.
  1. If children choose caps and gowns then why not make them yourselves?  Hats can be simply made with a bit of cardboard, a stapler and some colours.  They will be more meaningful to the children, can be personalised and they can bring them home!  And may also be less expensive!
  1. Decide on the type of party celebration you might have. Should it be just the parents?  Should younger or older siblings be invited? Older siblings may have left a couple of years earlier and would love to meet everyone again. Should other important adults (grandparents/ childminders) be invited?  Of course available space will have a big impact on this decision but encourage the children to take part in this decision making process.
  1. Ensure the children’s work is displayed in a way and at a height that everyone can see it.
  1. Make sure each child gets equal recognition for the time spent with you. The children feel great pride when their strengths and competencies are recounted individually to the audience.  This can be quickly and easily done as the children are being presented with their photos/book/gift  e.g. “We will miss John because he has always been ready to help build roads” or “Lucy’s great creativity will be missed. Every time you looked at the art area Lucy was in there working on a new creation.”

Some other suggestions to mark the great occasion:

Tree/bush planting ceremony

Plant a tree or fruit bush in the children’s honour and put a little sign on it to mark the year. If space is an issue, planting pots could be used with smaller plants.  

Pop-up playground

Provide a pop-up playground for an hour or so, inviting the parents to come and spend the time playing with their children.  A pop-up playground is a space filled with open-ended recycled materials. Recreate will provide you with plenty of resources!



Time capsule

Before the day, work with the children to document their favourite games and who their friends are.  Get them to put this, with a drawing and their own picture into an envelope.  On the day of celebration get each child to place their envelope into a tin box, seal it and bury it in the garden, not to be reopened for a set number of years. Local papers would love to record this and help trace the children in a few years’ time.



Sports day

Organise a sports day where the children get to take part in races along with their parents.  This can provide endless fun with egg and spoon races, three legged races, sack races etc.



What I’ll miss about…..

Create a book for each child that has comments from all the other children in the group about what they are going to miss about each other.



The most important thing about ________ is…

Have a collage of photos for each child (either on a board or on a screen).  Each keyworker stands up and has a few words to say about each child in their group, highlighting their dispositions, strengths and competencies, and of course, writes the most important thing about _____ is…..!   Hopefully you’ll get some ideas here and we’d love to hear about other ideas, perhaps you could send us in a Learning Story how you celebrate your graduation /ending in your service. Please share your ideas with us on Facebook or by email to

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