It was far from normal, and this school year marked the first time since 2018-2019 that most kids were in real classrooms, in person, together. So, when they leave their classrooms and say goodbye to their teachers this month, it will be truly transitional.
Celebrating all that they accomplished this school year can help with the transition. And there is a great deal to celebrate! Celebrations during childhood help our kids apply structure to the world and create memories that will stay with them into adulthood. Here are some suggestions and ideas for how to mark these end-of-the-school year days in ways that are meaningful for kids.
Celebration Photos: Create a record of the year by taking photos of your kids with their teacher, in their classrooms. Photograph them with their best buddies of the year in front of the school. Take some close-ups of their writing and art. Have the photos printed and plan with your child what to do with them. Create a memento poster? Paste them in a scrap book? Get dollar store frames for each? Consider taking similar photos each year so that you have a running record of each grade.
Celebratory Meal: Plan for a special meal to mark the last day of the school year. Ask you kids to help decide the menu, shop for the ingredients, prepare the meal, and set a special table. You could even work together on a centerpiece. Some families have celebration dishes that only come out when there is something to celebrate. A fun activity might be to take your kids to a shop or thrift store to choose their very own special plate. They can set the table that night with everyone’s special dinnerware and maybe with the centerpiece you’ve created together to honor their school year.
Celebrate with a Highlights Jar: Create a decorative jar filled with slips of paper, each holding a question about the school year. At your celebratory meal or other gathering time, pass the jar around, each child pulling a question for all to answer. Here are some sample questions that will promote storytelling, reflection, and connection:
- What was your proudest moment this year?
- What was your favorite subject?
- What was the toughest thing about this school year for you?
- Who or what inspired you?
- Who did you help in any way?
- What was a fun or funny thing that happened in your classroom?
Celebrate the first day after school gets out: Enjoy the kind of leisurely breakfast that isn’t possible in the typical school day rush. Pancakes and syrup? Waffles and bacon? Maybe it is a picnic breakfast, eaten outside. If the adults are working, see if you can allot a half hour to sit down to enjoy a café pastry or grab donut on the way to summer day care. Clink your mugs and propose a toast to summer. Marking of the first day of the summer with this easy ritual can become something that your kids look forward to year after year.
Brainstorm a Summer List: What does a great summer mean to your kids? You may be surprised to know that each of them has a different idea of what it could be. As a family, brainstorm a list on a poster of everyone’s top ideas. Try to incorporate as many as you can onto your summer calendar. Check the brainstormed items off as you enjoy them. Need inspiration? Here are 100 very doable ideas for summer fun.
Celebrate the Solstice: Create a family tradition about how to spend the longest day of the year. Your kids can look forward to it every June 21. Perhaps you get up at dawn and go to bed at sunset that day, maybe even sleeping in a tent outside. Here are eight other ideas for celebrating Solstice together.
Celebrate Special Summer Treats: Like strawberries! In many places, strawberries are ripe and ready to eat in June. Find out when your local crop will be ready and load up some buckets to go berry picking. Once home with your harvest, enjoy! Summer fruits can be enjoyed in many ways, and are something to look forward to each year.
Glenda Montgomery and Kayla Blau are Sound Discipline Facilitators.