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Preparing Your Speech
Talking to preschoolers is simple in the classroom, where students understand the schedule and are prepared for instruction. Speaking on graduation day, however, is trickier due to the fact that the students are out of their normal element. Many of them will be excited and antsy. Asking the class to sit still through the full ceremony may be asking too much from children ages three to five. The most important aspects of delivering a speech to a preschool class are the length of the speech, the use of humor in the speech and the specific content of the speech. Prepare the speech at least a week ahead of time; more time is better. Recruit coworkers and other preschool teachers to listen to your speech and help with editing.
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What If You're Nervous?
Being nervous is natural. While you are with the children all day, you are not with the parents all day. On graduation day, the parents will be in attendance. While you will be comfortable addressing your class, you may be completely uncomfortable doing it in front of the parents. Take deep breaths before getting in front of the crowd and count backwards from ten slowly. This activity relaxes your muscles and slows the adrenaline which is already rushing through a nervous body. When you are in front of the crowd, remember you are addressing your class, so look at your class. Avoid looking at the crowd behind your class. The speech is for the same crowd you address on a daily basis, so remember this and address them.
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The length of the speech is the most important part of the speech. While three to four year olds are beginning to gain a longer attention span, they are still young and will probably be excited on this special day. Asking them to pay attention may be akin to asking them to sit still for more than ten minutes - it may not happen as planned. Therefore, attempt to keep the speech under ten minutes and allow the children to move quickly to the next event. Delivering a speech quickly to preschool students allows them to pay attention to the speech while maintaining the ability to sit still for the duration of the ceremony.
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Add Some Humor
Humor is an icebreaker and speech mover for every age group. Adults love humor; kids will love it too. Talk about jokes from the classroom or a funny incident in the classroom. Keep the kids laughing and you will keep their attention as well. Jokes and humor keep the speech light during a time which may otherwise be emotional. Depending on the type of teacher you are and the type of classroom you run, the humor in the speech will vary. Make it unique and make it your own but certainly use humor to make your beloved class smile and remain engaged during the speech.
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Content is the Key!
Make the content personal. Talk to the class as a whole and review some fun times from the past year. Were there any field trips? Talk about the fun time had by the class. Were there special visitors? Talk about how the class responded to the visitor. Review favorite lessons or activities where the students seemed to have more fun than usual. A speech delivered to a preschool class from the teacher is allowed to be personal, as the speaker is directly addressing a specific group. Deliver good tidings toward the end of the speech, but keep the main topic of the speech reflective, as children at this age understand what has happened better than what will happen.
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Including the Rest of the Crowd
The rest of the crowd will be listening to your speech; however, any stories or jokes you share with your class can be explained to the rest of the audience after the speeches are over, during the socialization after the ceremony. Don't feel the need to explain every section of your speech to the rest of the audience. Your audience is your class. Keep this in mind when writing your speech and address the class as if it were just another day in preschool. At the same time, don't include any content which may offend parents or make others wonder what the heck happened in your classroom!
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Light Hearted Speeches
Graduation day at preschool should be joyous and fun, so any speeches addressed to the children will need to be kept light and energetic. It is obvious that you, as the teacher, are experiencing mixed emotions, but you are also the backbone of the children and the classroom. Keep up this role through graduation day and keep the mood happy for the children. Be sure to hug each child and say goodbye, but save the tears for later.
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Author's Own Experience