By Peta Rufo on 20 Dec, 2023

After reading a CELA article titled “Preschool Graduations – Who Are They Really For?” by Danielle Bopping, we began to reflect on our previous end-of-year celebrations. These events traditionally involved the customary hat, gown, and presentation, which the families absolutely adored. We loved them too! However, we started to question, “Where were the children’s voices in these celebrations?” and "Who were we really doing this for?"

Further research led us to discover numerous reasons to rethink our end-of-year celebration, aiming to make it more child-centric and meaningful, ensuring the children’s voices were heard and seen. We asked ourselves:

  • What are they actually graduating from?
  • Is this ceremony American or Australian?
  • Are we undervaluing the effort that is put into obtaining higher education?
  • Will children just think that attending is enough to graduate?

Embracing new ideas with vulnerability

I personally felt quite vulnerable taking this on, as it was a new concept/idea for everyone involved. Even though I knew from the research that it was a much more meaningful way to celebrate the children leaving, I still felt a little nervous. However, I knew I had to advocate for a more meaningful experience which included the children’s voices.

Involving children in the planning process

We decided to first ask the children their thinking around what a celebration is. Some of the children responded with, “Daddy's birthday’, "Like a party" and "When I want to say goodbye". We explained to the children from the outset that even though everyone had such wonderful ideas, we would not be able to do everything they suggested, but we would try our best to incorporate as many ideas as possible. 

We incorporated the children’s ideas for the party’s name, decorations, food, timing, attire, guest list, and activities (games and a disco). It was a challenge to incorporate the plethora of ideas, but we managed to include at least one suggestion from each child, creating a truly collaborative party.

During the two months leading up to the Leaving Kubby Party we held regular conversations with the children about their ideas and ask if anything had changed or if they had any new ideas. Thankfully, the majority of the children stuck with their original ideas! 

As it came closer to the event, the decorations arrived. We opened them together, talked about who decided on what and where we might put the decorations.

The celebration day

During the celebration we acknowledged the children for their individual strengths and their input into the celebration and handed them their learning portfolio. We then played Duck Duck Goose and the Parachute Game with the children and families. To end the night, we laid out the food the children chose (lots of lollies and cake balanced out with some fruit and savouries of course) and finished with a disco.

Reflecting on the success, plus future plans

Celebrating with the families and playing games together was a delightful and connecting experience. The feedback from families was overwhelmingly positive, highlighting the personalised and meaningful nature of the event.

Looking ahead, we aim to involve the children even more. Although we couldn’t hold the party on the last day of attendance this year due to community commitments, we plan to do so next year. This would allow the children to assist with the set up, food preparation, decorations, and invitations. This is the essence of working in ECEC – creating memorable experiences with and for the children.

I am so proud of the team for opening themselves up to the possibility of a different kind of celebration. The Leaving Kubby Party was a success and will become a ritual at our service for each group heading to school in future years, evolving each year for the better.

Further reading: 

Amplify! Preschool graduations – who are they really for? by Danelle Bopping

Amplify! Missed moments by CELA

Amplify! A reflection on promoting equity and agency through end of year celebrations by Meg Anastasi

About Peta

Peta Rufo is the Kubby House Childcare Centre Coordinator.



Linda Ruth Newman
Posted on 24 Jan, 2024
I am so happy to see that you thought deeply about the contested practice of hat and gown graduation for preschoolers. Congratulations! I loved the thought that we may be giving them the message that they simply had to attend to 'graduate'. Sure didn't happen that way in any of my degrees. The celebration looked wonderful, local and meaningful
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