From graduation caps and tassels to gowns and big grins, every parent imagines what the day their child graduates will look like. Today, in some cases that happy moment is coming much sooner than college – some children are having graduation ceremonies as early as preschool!

In a recent, two part article for Community Early Learning (Australia), Danielle Bopping explores the relevance and significance of graduation ceremonies for children to mark a child moving from Kinder to primary school. In the thought-provoking piece, Bopping poses the question; are graduation ceremonies important in early childhood?And, if so, how can early childhood educators make graduation ceremonies child-centered and meaningful to young children?

The Aurora Angle

At Aurora, we believe that every experience, be it an incursion or the movement up studios should be mindfully designed to support and inspire our learners. We firmly believe it is important to celebrate a child’s progression from Kindergarten into primary school as it recognises the milestones they have crossed and achievements they have worked for.

As Bopping elaborates, young children have “absolutely been involved in a course of study. Theirs has involved studying the world around them through their work, otherwise known as play.” To support children’s learning, we design curriculums informed and guided by the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and the National Quality Framework. Indeed in the recent years even vocabulary has changed from ‘childcare’ to ‘early education, a shift which highlights that, when young children come to centres for care, they are engaging in consciously designed activities and experience that will enhance their growth and development. It lays the grounds for further education, marking their completion of an early childhood program as important.

Sheela Edwards, CEO Aurora Early Education and Simone Edwards, COO Aurora Early Education , critically reflected on how best to mark a child’s transition from kindergarten to school,after consulting with educators, families and children. Sheela Edwards commented, “It was important to acknowledge the work of the children and teachers in getting them ready to take their first steps into schooling, which is often a more formal setting than a kindergarten.”

At the same time, traditional graduation ceremonies – where students don the gown and mortar board, mark the later years of one’s academic career, typically a graduation from University. Aurora wants to see all its learners pursue further studies, especially at university, and we therefore believe that a ‘traditional’ graduation should be reserved for a higher studies graduation.

Aurora Opinion: Should we be having graduation ceremonies for children

Instead of the gown and mortar ceremony,  we invite parents and family in to witness their children receiving certificates of completion when they finish Kinder and are ready for a transition to school. Our children are invited to dress up and feel a sense of accomplishment and confidence as the audience applauds for them. We hope that the ceremony will inspire them to keep challenging and motivating themselves, academically, physically and socially to develop into well-rounded individuals.

In such ceremonies, children should be given agency and the power of choice to contribute to how the ceremony is designed. This makes the ceremony more meaningful and impactful for them. As our Kinder children approach the end of the year, we ask children who are members of our Children’s Advisory Board for their thoughts about transitioning out of Kinder and how we can make the experience exciting for them. Often what we consider important is far from meaningful for a child!

To further encourage a positive attitude towards education and academics, we believe that it is important that children interact with peers who have progressed from Kinder to school before them, so they can appreciate what school has to offer them and feel a sense of security as they move forward. Our 2017 Kinder graduates have formed an alumni association to re-connect, to care and create meaning in true Aurora fashion. Our Kinder teacher facilitates this re-union with current kindergarten children and, as our alumni meet and connect with our current students, we continue to motivate all stakeholders in the continuum of education.

It is for this reason that Aurora believes that marking a child’s progression to school is so very important. Recognising a child’s achievements in early education and providing motivation for the next stage in their education lays the groundwork for academic motivation and, we hope, begins the path towards a University graduation. If this experience can be appropriately encapsulated in graduation ceremonies for children, that differs from the traditional ceremonies that are held in universities then that would be beneficial to the child’s sense of academic direction. 

In the words of Sheela Edwards, “When our children, through perseverance, hard work, endeavour, in specialised studies arrive at the moment of graduating, it’s a true moment of joy. When this moment occurs for the children, we at Aurora will be truly proud. We will share in the knowledge that their time at Aurora provided the necessary provocations to ignite and continue the fire of enquiry.”

Have a trip to our Early learning centre in Doncaster and Early learning centre in Rowville.

Read Danielle Bopping’s Article for Community Early Learning Australia here: