After a year-long Kindergarten readiness class taught at the Delta and Antioch First 5 Center, families lined up in their cars decorated with hand-made signs while graduation music played, bubbles floated in the air, and celebrated their accomplishment in a unique, yet memorable way.

In previous years, a large and intimate celebration was held at the end of the class to honor the parents and children’s achievement, as well as to show appreciation for spending the year with the First Center staff to learn the different aspects of school readiness for their children. However, this year with the current shelter-in-place order, families and staff needed to get creative and pull-together to create something special.

Leading up to graduation day, staff sent families a cap and gown and were encouraged to decorate it with their preschooler. Families were then instructed to line-up in their cars while staff held up individual signs of celebration for each child who then received a backpack filled with school supplies, a Potter the Otter Kindergarten book, other goodies, and a certificate of completion.

“It was nice to see everyone, the families and our staff, and it gave us that familiar feeling of closeness,” said Shalila Melvin of the Antioch/Delta First 5 Center. “It also brought a sense of culmination and celebration for the families that will be moving on.”

In a weekly class called Road Map to Kindergarten©, an evidence-based tool that First 5 adopted for the centers, parents learn about how difficult it can be for them to be separated from their child. While parents learn how to support their child’s transition to Kindergarten, the children portion is titled “Bridge to Kindergarten” where they participate in classes that strengthen their social emotional development.

During this current time of virtual interactions and distance learning, the ceremony was also shared on Facebook LIVE so that friends and family members could share in the joy. Click here to view the ceremony on the Antioch First 5 Center Facebook page, and click here to view the ceremony held at the Delta First 5 Center.

To learn more about Kindergarten readiness classes, or about other First 5 Center classes, please click here to contact your local First 5 Center.