Celebrating graduation day in preschool

We are soon coming to the end of our current school year and in honor of the time we have spent together and what the future holds, we celebrate with a fun, simple, but very memorable preschool graduation…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

There are many different thoughts about whether or not it is “appropriate” for preschoolers to participate in a graduation program or ceremony. I can’t answer that for you because I think it all depends on the approach you take and if your approach will be a meaningful and enriching experience for your students and their parents. While you consider what you believe is in the best interest of your students and parents, I thought I would share what our graduation day was like last year and talk a little bit about why we celebrate this day together…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

Why we celebrate

I have a small preschool and all of my students are with me from the day they enter the program until the day they leave my program.  During their time with me, my students grow and learn so much that it is simply amazing. I don’t want the last day of their time with me to just come and go as if it wasn’t significant. I want my students and their parents to know that their time in preschool was precious and that I valued every second of it. I want to offer my students and parents the chance to celebrate the closing of their preschool years and the beginning of new experiences to come. Our graduates are moving on to new discoveries and new accomplishments but they take with them the many discoveries and accomplishments we shared together and this is all worth celebrating…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

How we celebrate

In my preschool, all the students are involved in the graduation celebration. They all march down the red carpet together with the younger (future-graduates) leading the way.  Last year, all the children marched down the isle to the lively tune of “I’m Bringing Home My Baby Bumble Bee.”  This got our program off to a fun, relaxed, and very preschool focused start…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

Before graduation day, we went outside a couple of times and practiced our walk down the isle so the children would know what to do on graduation day but my assistant and I were there to remind them as needed on the day of graduation…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

We also spent a couple of days practicing our songs that we planned to sing for the parents.  The songs we sing each year are usually all songs we have been singing throughout the school year so the children are already familiar with them and comfortable singing them together…

Lauging together on the stage

On the day of graduation, all the children sing a couple of songs together first and then our graduates sing a song on their own plus demonstrate a few things they have learned throughout the school year…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

And then I call up each child to the stage. Each of our future graduates get a certificate for completing a year in preschool…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

And each of our graduates get their diploma for completing their preschool experience…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

While each student is up on the stage, I take a quick minute to share something special about each child. This gives parents a little extra time to take photos and me the chance to tell how proud I am of each of my students…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

And once all the children have received their diploma or certificate, we end our celebration with a fun song the children can freely dance and have fun with…

Celebrating Graduation Day by Teach Preschool

The parents and children then all stick around and eat cake, visit with one another, and then we call it a night. I would say the entire presentation lasts about 45 minutes from walking down the isle to dancing to our last song. Because our graduation celebration is held outdoors, we don’t try and do a slide presentation but no worries, my parents have been seeing photos of everything we do in our classroom all year long in our private online forum and here on the blog.

Wrapping it all up

This year, I might change up the order or layout or the songs we sing just a bit but what will be the same this year and every year will be the focus of our celebration. The focus is always on the accomplishments my students made throughout the year and the great things that are ahead.  The graduation ceremony is designed to celebrate those things through a fun, relaxed, and simple preschool celebration.

PS. For those who are wondering about our graduation robes, we ordered them from Rhyme University this year. I hope I get them on time! As far as why we wear them? Because they are beautiful and it makes our graduates feel special. Besides all preschool age children love dressing up – especially to come to a celebration!

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

Ideas for Graduation Day on Pinterest

Choosing the right preschool for your child

It is that time of year when parents are starting to make decisions about where to send their child to preschool.  If you are new to sending your child to preschool, you need to know that it is important to start looking for a place early and to get on a list. Quality preschool programs can fill up rather fast and then you are left scrambling to find another place to go.  Just take a look at the lengths these people will go through in this article! 

If you are looking for a preschool, you may be wishing you had a check list of questions to ask or things to do so I am going to do my best to give you a little help…

Step One

The first thing you will need to know are the basic logistics of the preschool programs in your area. It is a good idea to check out more than one preschool and compare the information. 

Find Locations:  Find out the location of the preschools in your area that are a convenient driving distance for you.

Get Referrals: Ask other parents where they send their children to preschool and to tell you what they like about their child’s preschool. The reasons they give may influence your decision to send or not send your preschooler to the same school.

Make Contact: Contact a few preschools in your area and ask the following questions…

  1. What age does my child need to be to enter your preschool program?
  2. What days of the week do ___ year olds attend your preschool?
  3. What time does preschool begin and end each day?
  4. Do you have extended or after preschool hours (if this is needed)?
  5. What will the tuition rate be for my ___ year old?
  6. When is tuition due?
  7. Is tuition due weekly, monthly, annually?
  8. What other expenses will be involved in addition to tuition throughout the school year?
  9. Will the children go on “out of school” fieldtrips?
  10. Will the preschool provide snack or will this be the parent’s responsibility?
  11. How many students will be in my child’s classroom?
  12. How many teachers will be in my child’s classroom?
  13. What are the dates your preschool starts and ends?
  14. What dates are you closed throughout the year?
  15. Do you follow the same calendar as the local school systems?
  16. How do you notify parents of last minute school closings due to inclement weather or other?
  17. What are your policies about illness and keeping children home?
  18. Is your preschool licensed or certified by any agency? If so, which agencies?
  19. Do you have a website I can go to for additional information?
You may be able just to ask for an enrollement packet to get the answer to most of the above questions…

For preschools that are full you can ask…

  1. Is there is a waiting list and how do I get on it?
  2. How will I be notified if an opening comes up?
  3. What is the cost to get on your waiting list?
  4. When do you make final decisions and close or finalize enrollment?

Step Two

Once you have narrowed down your choice based on location, cost, session times and days then you will want to see if you can stop by and visit the preschool. This is a good reason to start looking before the current school year comes to an end so you can actually see the school while it is in full swing. Many preschools close during the summer and will not be available to give tours.

Visiting the preschool:

I recommend going without your child on your first visit to the preschool. This will give you the chance to check out the school and ask a few questions before introducing the preschool to your child.

  1. Call ahead and see if you can set up an appointment to see the school.
  2. Ask if you can return for a second visit and bring your child with you to visit the classroom and meet the teacher.
  3. Keep in mind that if you are visiting during school hours that the teacher may not be able to stop and chat with you for any lengthy period of time.
  4. A visit like this should be your opportunity to observe the classroom environment and to get a feel for the classroom environment as well as the personalities and teaching approach of the teachers in the classroom.

During your visit to the preschool you may wish to consider the following….

Observations What to look for… Questions (the answer should be yes!)
Artwork The kind of artwork that is displayed around the room. Does the artwork look child-made?
Table Activities The types of activities out on the tables. Do the activities provide opportunities for interaction, conversation, creativity, decision-making, and hands-on play or exploration?
Toys and Equipment The toys and equipment available for play Are there plenty of toys to keep a large group of children busy and engaged in play?Are the toys and equipment of good quality and good condition?
Centers The types of choices (centers) made available to children through play. Is there an easel, water table, sand table, and other centers such as science, math, art, writing, books, puzzles, play dough, and blocks set up and open for play throughout the room?
Cleanliness and Organization The cleanliness and organization of the environment. Are tables, chairs, toys, shelves, cabinets, floors clean and free from excess clutter?Are toys and materials organized in baskets and set out to foster decision-making, interesting choices, play, independence, and responsibility?
Cubbies Coat hooks, baskets, or shelves. Is there a place for children to store their personal belongings while at preschool that they can reach and manage independently?
Conversations The conversations of children and teachers If children are present and playing in the classroom, do you hear talking, laughing, singing, asking questions, and expressing their ideas, preferences or point of view?Do you hear the teachers speaking warmly, kindly, and respectfully to the children? Do you hear teachers encouraging the children to be confident learners by inviting them to make choices, decisions, and be a part of the activities in progress?
Movement Children at Play Do you see children moving about the room, engaged in centers, working with their hands, exploring materials, and at play with one another?
Outdoors The outdoor environment. Is there an outdoor area where children can run, climb, walk, explore, climb, and participate in other types of play?

The above table provides some of the most common areas of considerations when visiting most preschool classrooms.

Questions for the teacher:

If you have a chance to talk to the teacher, then you may wish to ask the following kinds of questions….

  1. How long have you been teaching ___ year olds?
  2. How long have you been with this preschool?
  3. What kind of background in education and experience in teaching young children do you have?
  4. What is your teaching philosophy (In what ways do you believe children learn best)?
  5. What is your discipline policy? (How you will handle inappropriate behavior in the classroom)?
  6. What kinds of rules will you expect the children to follow and how will you help the children meet your expectations?
  7. What type(s) of curriculum (if any) do you follow?
  8. In what way(s) do you assess “progress”?
  9. What kinds of activities will the children do throughout the day?
  10. Do you have a daily schedule I can keep?
  11. In what way(s) do you provide parent communication?
  12. Will you be having parent/teacher conferences?
  13. How do you feel about parents visiting in your classroom (Does the teacher have an open door policy)?
  14. How do you feel about parents volunteering in your classroom? In what ways can parents volunteer to help out in your classroom?


Notice that I am not giving you right or wrong answers to the above questions. These are just for you to use as a guide in order to get a feel for the kind of program you will be sending your child to. 


The Perfect Preschool
There really isn’t a perfect recipe for helping you choose the “perfect” preschool for your child. In the end, it will be your job to find a preschool that seems to be the right fit for you and your child.  Trust your own instincts in the process and find a preschool that makes you comfortable and confident leaving your child.


It is important that you love the preschool and feel accepted and appreciated as the parent of your preschooler.  If you lack confidence in your child’s preschool, it is very possible that your child will pick up on your concerns and feel apprehensive about going to preschool.  Your child’s preschool should meet the needs of the whole child and you want to feel confident that your choice in preschool will make the early learning years for your child and your family a successful experience.


Talking about Preschool on Fox Morning News…
This is a very short segment, you may enjoy the live but shortened version of this post on this 3 minute video aired over at Fox Morning News in January….

What does preschool look like?

The following is a gallery of photos I put together from my own classroom to help you visualize the preschool experience.  If you are reading my blog regularly, hopefully you are learning about the preschool experience because there is much more than I can possibly show you below! You can hover over each photo to read a little bit about what we do in preschool… 

At preschool we……

And don’t forget outdoor play!

Of course, every classroom will have its own personality, style, and design -but hopefully, this will at least give you insight as to what preschool is all about as you head out to visit preschools in your area.

My very best in your search for your next preschool.

May your preschooler have the best experience possible!


Please note..

This post was written as a request from Toddler Approved. If you haven’t checked out the Toddler Approved blog – Do me a favor and pay her a visit today!  Or stop by Toddler Approved Facebook Page and tell her Deborah from Teach Preschool sent you! 

Do you have other tips?

If you have other tips for parents on what to look for when searching for a preschool, please share them in the comments below!

Our preschool parent Christmas gifts and cards

For our parent Christmas gift, each of the children participated in making a class cookie recipe book…

We had spent time a few weeks earlier looking at cookie recipes and exploring terms like recipe, ingredients, measurements, oven temperature, degrees, cooking time, and so forth….

Then we created our own cookie recipe as a group…

The children were then asked to draw a picture of their own cookie and give us the name of their cookie, the ingredients, and the baking instructions.

I made copies of the children’s drawings and typed up their “recipes” then put them all together in a book for each child to take home as the parent gift…

Before sending the recipe books home, I read one copy to the children during circletime…

For the cover of the book, the children made cookie cutter prints on white paper…

Once the cookie cutter printed paper was dry, I cut the paper in half and saved it for the cover of our recipe books…

The entire process was done over a span of three weeks. We worked on each part of the gift one little piece at a time…

Parent Christmas Card

For our parent card, the children used a marker, paints, and their fingertips to make a string of Christmas lights.

Most of the children drew their own light string but some of the children requested help with the string…

The children dipped their finger in the paint to add the lights to their strings…

Although the cards were similar, they still each had their own uniqueness and the children’s special fingerprints to personalize them a bit…

After the cards were completely dry, the children folded them in half and drew a picture on the inside of the card for their parents…

This completed our parent cards and we attached them to the gifts once they were all wrapped up…


By | December 23rd, 2011|Categories: Christmas|Tags: , , , , |9 Comments

Parent involvement in early literacy is the key to academic success

Parent involvement in early literacy is the key to academic success by Dr. Erika Burton of Stepping Stones Together

Early childhood education sets the stage for future academic achievement.

Whether you choose a pre-school setting, home school your child, or a combination of both exposure and parent modeling of literacy skills before, during and after the preschool years is essential.


A study conducted last spring in over 27 countries and over 20 years confirmed that having over 500 books in ones’ home is more important to a child’s projected academic success than a parent’s education. There are few studies to date on parent involvement in early literacy skills and development when reading with them. Yet, educators know that the number one predictor of lifelong academic achievement is parental involvement.

What are some best practices to help your child learn beginning literacy skills?

Where do you start if your child does not know their letters or sounds?

  1. Expose your child to literacy in natural occurring situations– Point out stop, speed, and washroom signs
  2. Label your house– Make a project out of writing and taping the words for things around your house that your child can see, touch, and repeat every day.
  3. Alphabet fun– Play with the alphabet out of order through developing letter of the day, week, or month and try to incorporate meals, toys, pictures on the internet, books. Have your child help you. Take pictures and/or develop a book for each. Develop opportunities for your child to make each letter cutting them from sponges, or forming them using play dough or even dye in snow!
  4. 4. Sound fun- Make up songs, games, or dances using the sounds of each letter in the alphabet. Buy a puzzle or game that says the sound of each letter as a review.

Where do you start if your child is ready to read?

  1. Investigate- The first reading steps are always the most nerve wrecking. Make sure your child is ready. Does your child know their letters and sounds?
  2. What are the signs of a child ready to read?– Does your child pretend to read books, ask you what words say, attempt to sound out letters in words, know words are devised of letters and spaces indicate new words? Has your child told you they want to learn to read?
  3. Start and stop when your child is eager- Beginning reading is hard. Consistency in small chunks of time works best. Always make sure they are having fun and within their frustration threshold.
  4. Use a repetitive simple text book- Allow your child to select an easy reader that can be completed in one sitting of 5-10 minutes. Research suggests choice is important in reading motivation.
  5. Picture walk- Predict and preview each page in a book using picture clues to identify story details
  6. Model- Do an initial read through of the book allowing your child to see best beginning reading practices of pointing to each word with your finger.
  7. Guide them- Allow your child to read the text helping them when necessary with difficult words in context.
  8. Review and discuss- Ask story questions related to vocabulary, connecting the text to your child’s experiences, and to check for basic reading comprehension.
  9. Write- Have your child share as you transcribe or bravely attempt to write their thoughts on characters, problems, situations and their experiences with each story.
  10. Review high frequency words- Review words such as; a, the, and, this… however you see fit.
  11. Consistency- Work daily through these steps whenever possible.

Guest Writer Biography

Dr. Erika Burton founded Stepping Stones Together to provide parents with an easy-to-use and reasonably priced online reading program to help parents instill a love for reading with children ages 3-7.

In 2005, Burton co-founded Orion’s Mind, an Educational Company with an overarching mission to close the educational achievement gap in Chicago. The company started with two employees. Orion’s Mind is one of the largest supplemental education providers in Illinois behind Chicago Public School’s own supplemental curriculum called Aim High. The company serves thousands of Chicago Public students in grades K-8 each school year. Orion’s Mind is also the largest supplemental provider in Waukegan, Illinois, Public Schools for grades K-8 students.

Dr. Burton earned her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with a minor in research and supervision from Loyola University in Chicago in 2004. She completed her master’s degree in Elementary Education from Aurora University in 1998 and her Bachelor’s Degree in 1996 from The University of Arizona.

Burton worked closely from 2005- 2009 to  develop and revise curriculum, develop and facilitate the instructor and lead instructor trainings, and the instructor supervision program designed to ensure consistent and successful implementation of the Orion’s Mind curriculum.

While obtaining her professional degrees, Burton taught second grade in a bilingual classroom in the inner city of Los Angeles, first grade on the west side of Chicago in a restructured school, third grade at Holmes Elementary in Oak Park, IL, and later served as an Assistant Principal at River Grove Elementary School.

Burton has continued to support teachers as an adjunct professor for Roosevelt and National Louis University with a focus on teaching educational leadership, action research, early childhood and elementary education. She is dedicated to closing the educational achievement gap working with teachers to develop strategies to help all students achieve measurable results. Burton was awarded grant money in 2007 by National Louis University to ensure teachers use action research to better serve their students.

Burton presented at the 2007 Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) conference in Orlando, Florida, the National Louis University’s Imagination conference in 2006 and the ASCD’s Midwest conference in 2006 focusing on multi-disciplinary approaches to learning.

Her most recent publication was in Burton, E. (2009, August). 21st century focus: brain learning. Southeast Educators Network, (11.2).

Why was Stepping Stones Together Created?

Stepping Stones Together was designed to address a needed resource I could not find when searching for a parent/child beginning literacy program to help my own children, and to provide highly motivational reading resources for parents and caregivers to help their child who is ready to read. I wanted to meet the needs of busy parents, being one myself, and make it easy to use, and it was designed with realistic daily practice commitments in mind. This program can be completed within 15-20 minutes each day, and within just 60 days, you should see a noticeable improvement in your child’s beginning reading skills.

Reflecting on the parents of preschoolers

This is Wy, my nephew, and his mommy. They were over at my house on New Year’s Day and while they read a book together, I stepped back and observed (with camera in hand).

The book they were reading was one that Wy’s mommy had bought for him. Each page is illustrated with wonderful textured photos that Wy loves to feel with his hands as his mommy reads aloud to him.

And as they turn the pages of the book – Wy’s mommy talks about the pictures and Wy smiles as he listens to his mommy’s voice.

As I watched Wy sit and read with his mommy, I was reminded of how important families are to young children.

Oh, they have their ups and downs as a family like we all do – but Wy needs his mommy and his daddy more than I can express.

And after they finished reading their book, it was time for Wy and his mommy to head on home.

So Wy, still in his pajamas from spending the night with me, slipped on his fun new hat and his cool cowboy boots and gave me a hug goodbye so he could go home with his mommy.

So what will they do when they get home? Oh probably take a bath, eat some lunch, run errands, play with some toys, take a nap, watch some television, and start all over again through the evening. Nothing much, nothing profound – they will do just what families do – be a family and take care of each other the best they can – just like we all do.


One time, years ago, I had a parent of one of my preschoolers come to me and express her concern that I thought she was not a good mommy. I was so surprised that she felt this way. I did not know that somehow I was sending her a signal of disapproval. But I assured her that I slept well at night because I knew in the bottom of my heart that my students all go home to parents who love them and care for them – including her.

Another time, years ago, I had another parent come to me with great worry that every time she came to pick up her daughter, her daughter would throw a fit in the car almost the whole ride home – but once they were home, she was fine again. Mom felt like she was doing something wrong or wasn’t meeting a need. I reminded mom that adults and children all feel some level of stress when they are apart from their families all day. So when her daughter is in the car after a long day at school where she has to follow rules, share, stay on a schedule, and be with 15 or more other children all day, she is bound to need some stress relief.

For her daughter, it seemed like the best place to release that stress was in the comfort and security of mom’s car.

I came across a blog last year where a preschool teacher ranted and raved in just about every post how awful her infant room parents were. As I read her extremely poor perspective of the parents whose babies she cared for, I was disheartened. The blog has since been closed down.

The moral of this story…

I am a great preschool teacher (at least I like to think so) and I adore the children I work with. All day long, my students give me hugs and tell me they love me. All day long my students are given every advantage I can offer.

You know, it would be easy for me to get full of myself as a teacher and to to feel like somehow my students need me more than they need their parents. It would be easy to believe that somehow I am better than their parents. But I only have these children for a brief moment of their lives. That moment is special to me and I hope special to them but their parents do all the real work. It is parents who pay for the doctor bills, stay up late at night, work hard to put food on the table, buy cute clothes and school supplies, go to the park on the weekends, negotiate arguments between siblings, struggle with how to keep their children happy – And spend lots of money to put them in my care each day while they work or do whatever it is they need to do.

Yes, I am a great preschool teacher with some very special skills for helping my students have a successful classroom experience – but I am not their parent. I know that – I remember that in a healthy way – and I hope that if you are caring for or teaching the children of others, you will always remember that too.

By | January 6th, 2011|Categories: Professional Development|Tags: , |6 Comments