In my first few years of teaching preschool I did not do a graduation ceremony. About 5 years ago a parent said to me "please do a ceremony, I'll pay for it." She really wanted to see that moment, she wanted pictures. I went home to reflect and ultimately decided to do a ceremony. I of course did not have her pay for it, but I did however charge parents a small fee to help pay for the cost of a location and the gowns. I believe the fee was $15. While this fee did not cover everything, it did help offset the cost. Every year I pay around $80-$150 for the location and any other supplies needed.
I have done the ceremony, outdoors in a local park with and end of the year picnic, at the local library and the botanic gardens.
We ordered our caps and gowns from AlphabetU.com, I actually ordered these after doing light research on the quality. We were absolutely please with the product, and then a year or two after ordering we were in LA for the NAEYC conference and Alphabet u had a booth at the conference. The representatives in the booth let us know that Alphabet u, color matches each fabric. So if you order some one year and end up needing more 5 years later, they will match in color! The have quite an extensive selection of graduation supplies. It's a great catalog to start having be sent to your school.
We keep our caps and gowns for reuse. We wash and steam them every year before we use them again. We do give the parents the option to buy the cap or gown if they so choose. We give each child their tassel on their hat as a keep sake. So we have to order tassels every year. But the cost is really not to bad.
Depending on the kids in the room we do something fun, like sing a song to the parents, dance down the isle, etc. nothing elaborate. I let the kids decide, we make it all about them!
Give a speech, thank the children, thank the parents for their support. Call their names and have them come up to receive their diploma and give them a hug!
Make sure to leave lots of time to chat with parents and take pictures!
Sometime I do a slideshow for parents to watch as they are taking there seats, I on'y do this if we are in a space that has a projector.
The most important thing is to plan what you are comfortable planning and plan for something that will make the kids happy. This is there moment, they should be in on all the decision making!
Abby Lazarus M.Ed.
Over 13 years in the ECE profession. A bachelors in Child Development and a Masters in Early Childhood Studies.