Every summer during the last week of August our oldest toddler group members traditionally graduate from our group program and move on to preschool in September. There is a graduation ceremony and party that follows. Grandparents, siblings, and special friends are invited to attend. It is a very special celebration.
This year was no exception as 2 groups of toddlers came with their families on August 31st to claim their hats and diplomas and to say “bye-bye” to the program , people, and play room that has been an important part of their lives. Most of the toddlers who graduated started in our group program when they were young infants. This means that our toddlers, our toddler parents, and our staff members had known each other for at least 2 and a half years. That’s a long time! For this reason, graduation is usually both bitter and sweet. We will certainly miss each other when we no longer meet together once a week. Evidence of this was seen in the tears that were shed on graduation day last week by both parents and staff members as we said good-bye to each other. The children’s book entitled, “I Hate Good-byes” was appropriate for the grown ups as well as the children.
What helps us when we experience these sad or bitter feelings is the realization that we will always have the sweet memories of the experiences in each group as we watched our children grow and develop. If we begin to forget, all we have to do is to slip that graduation DVD into the DVD player and the memories will all come back. Just ask any of our graduate parents from past years. Parents report that the graduation DVD continues to be a favorite for children and families many years after they have graduated from our program. What also helps is the realization that we have all learned so much together! Our hope is that the parenting tips and strategies discussed during toddler parent discussion time will continue to be useful long after families leave our program.
Bye,Bye Toddler Group