The end of school is near … let’s celebrate!
Summer is almost here and it’s time to commemorate the year at school. Teachers, parents and students are feeling a combination of relief and sadness. While some students made their way back to the classroom, others stayed in remote learning. At the end of another tumultuous year, we’re saying thanks to everyone who helped us survive another year of change and uncertainty.
My kids and I are making cards for our teachers and sending gifts. We want to thank them for all the work that they have put into making another unthinkable and strange year quite successful.
Kids also need to feel victorious for finishing the year in whatever capacity they were able. With children moving on from grade to grade, celebrations are few and far between. To mark the occasion, parents are thinking of fun ways to make the end of year moment memorable and special.
End of school ideas:
- Keep traditions alive! If you had a ritual that your family participated in pre-COVID (there was a time before, I swear!), do it. If it was a special treat at the end of school or a family trip, take necessary precautions and go for it. My children get some things that they usually don’t indulge in during the year – McDonald’s Happy Meals and Slurpees!
- Welcome break with a summer basket filled with activities that your child loves! Ideas: books, bubbles, a beach ball, backyard games, chalk, favorite candy or snacks, a new toy.
- Let them de-school! I worry about summer slide, but let them relax and get their mind off school a bit, before quizzing them on their math facts.
- Now that they’ve spent more time than ever on screens, time to detox. Send them outside with specific activities to do and join them! Make the bike rides longer, stay outside until it’s dark, roast s’mores, start a water balloon fight, go skating and enjoy that summer freedom.
- Celebrate the end of school with a surprise itinerary. Take your kids on a new hike or introduce them to a new outdoor game. Take a trip to a local farm for some berry picking or find another summer activity that they’d enjoy.
- Coordinate a mini-party with cake and balloons with a small group of close friends or just your family. Take the party to a park or to your own backyard. Play games, start the grill and enjoy stress-free time with each other.
- Make signs that say “Congratulations!” and “Welcome Summer!” Get excited about the next step in their education.
- Indoor/outdoor camping. My kids love bringing their mattresses and sleeping bags down to the family room to watch a movie and stay up late.
- Dance parties are the best when you crank up the music and floss your way into summer.
- I’m a big fan of YES days! Let your child celebrate their graduation in any way they would like. Start the morning off with ice cream? Sure! Want an extra 20 minutes of television? Of course!
- We’ve done many scavenger hunts since the pandemic began, and it never gets old! That’s because the thrill of the chase makes getting the prize all the more special. Celebrate the end of school with a scavenger hunt outdoors or make one up for around the house.
Things to make and do:
- Make a link chain out of construction paper for summer days. Tear off the rings and count down to the beginning of school. Every few links, add in an activity, for instace: dinner al fresco, movie night, mini-golf or kids’ choice. Begin the day your kids are out of school. You can do this with a jar, too; sit down as a family and come up with things you want to do over the summer. Choose one on a designated day or any day.
- Make a time capsule. You’ll never forget these days, but just to be sure, make a time capsule. Store some pictures of your child’s time at school or in a class meeting. Add a picture with their teacher from an online meeting, and a drawing or piece of writing reflecting this time period. Put it in a box , bury it or set it aside to look at again later.
- Coordinate with educators and try for a teacher parade or drive-by. It’s a great time to make posters and say goodbye in person, but still 6 feet away.
- Celebrate the end of school with last-day-of-school photos, maybe in pajamas or wearing your school colors. It will be a picture you’ll never forget!
- Plan an outdoor field trip or gathering with your class. As a nice way to say goodbye, go to the beach, have lunch together and share your favorite moments of the year.
Note that some kids may feel upset that there was no official celebration to acknowledge their achievements. Validate their emotions and make them feel safe and understood.
Originally published June 2020; updated for 2021.
Show your teacher a little appreciation, all year round