Yesterday was our first ever graduation! It was wonderful. And definitely an emotional day.
It was held in our class, since the class is in a multipurpose gym. But it was decorated way differently than usual. We went all out for those four children. Caps, gowns, certificates, The whole nine yards. We even got them “kinder-packs”. (more on those later.)
The “ceremony” itself was brief. all the pre-k kids sang the Winnie the Pooh song for the parents, the four graduates were brought to the back of the room and sort of bounced up to the front in a clump.Since they’re 5, lines don’t quite happen yet. =) . Each child took their certificate, and joined the parents. a total of 15 minutes, I believe.
But it’s still one of those moments that you remember for being special. I will probably remember the smiles , the looks of pride that they had done something. (although they may not be clear on exactly what yet.) One child had their cap on sideways. One girl tripped on her gown. One skippeddown the aisle singing I’m graduating, graduating, graduating. And knowing these particular kids makes it all the more meaningful. I just hope that some day, they will be doing the exact same thing for high school. Or maybe even college.
Now back to the kinder-packs. Each child got a backpack with the uniform for the school they will be going to, a uniform (all slightly large, since the kids will likely grow in two months),some books, two pairs of shoes, jackets, crayons, paper, and whatever was on that school’s kinder list. Also there were some toys. Also there was a card for each, saying how great it was having them in my class, and when they go to kinder, they can still come to my room for after school.
Yes, 4 of my pre-k students who had the most challenges and would have been the most likely allowed to defer for an extra year have been accepted to kindergarten. For these four children the step into kindergarten is more like a giant leap. Not only are they all homeless, but they all have physical and emotional challenges that they average 5 year old doesn’t have. 3 of the 4 were unable to to do basic personal care when they arrived. And all were unable to socially younger than their ages. But all of them made it!
I’m embarrassed to say we almost missed it. Somewhere along the line we didn’t pay attention to how far they were progressing. It wasn’t until this morning, when I finally sat down and went over every ones progress cards that these 4 children met and even exceeded all the benchmarks to begin K-1. (our district is doing the experimental 2 part kinder)
So now I am about to notify 4 parents that their child will be entering the “normal” school world, where they will be just like everyone else for a change. =) .It was only two weeks ago that on of the families was expressing their concerns that their child would never make it to non-specialized schools. And yes, I am also sending complete referrals to the schools with the education plans to continue the outstanding progress they are making.
I used to think that those big pre-k and pre-school graduations were silly. But now I am preparing one for my kids.=) I am trying to find four tiny cap and gown sets, and designing little certificates. Because this is what the other pre-k’s in my area are doing. And my pre-k’s are going to be like everyone else. Silly and over done? probably. But for kids who always feel inadequate and are always hearing, “sorry but we can’t afford..” it will mean the world.
I teach class in a shelter. Some people say that I’m nuts. Some say that there is no reason today that. Some people think that there are enough regular preschools to take them. The reality is that there aren’t. it is very difficult to find subsidised preschools.And then, there is the instability factor. The kids could be changing schools every few weeks. That can’t be a good thing. So I do what I can to give the kids the best chance they can to have something somewhat stable.