Your child has worked hard during the school year: early mornings, tests, homework, extracurriculars, successes, and setbacks. You’ve worked hard, too: prompting, consoling, supporting, and chauffeuring. And now another school year—another chapter—is drawing to a close. Why not celebrate? A party is one obvious option, but at-school, after-school, and out-of-school celebratory choices are limited only by the imagination.
The article “Rituals and Traditions that Bring Families Closer,” on the Aha! Parenting website, says, “Extraordinary moments often masquerade as ordinary life. So look around the pandemonium and remind yourself to be grateful for every minute you get to spend with your children as they grow.” What better time to bond and breathe a collective sigh of relief at the opportunity to slow the pace a bit, then the end of a school year. Marking this milestone with a new tradition or ritual can be both fun and healthy for the whole family. In answer to the question “Why do families need rituals?” the article says, “They help us move emotionally from one place to another; they ease pain, acknowledge growth, and create connection.”
Need ideas or inspiration? Go to Pinterest and see “Ways to Celebrate Completing a School Year—a Very Big Deal!” including creative gift ideas for teachers. Similarly, TipJunkie offers “11 End of School Year Celebrations.” A sweet and simple idea is one mom who labeled her daughter’s brown bag lunch "Last lunch for 3rd grade ever!" The site suggests that “They [kids] will love the extra love that they feel as you celebrate summer and teacher appreciation during the end of the year.”
SignUpGenius provides even more angles with “25 Fun Ways to Celebrate the End of the School Year” by Sara Kendall, mother of two daughters. Her ideas include “See You Later Alligator” treat bags for kids to pass out at school, a “Summer Fun Box,” filled with summertime toys and strategically placed for kids arriving home after that final day of the year, a “Last Day of School Tailgate Party,” and/or “Welcome to Summer Banner,” across the front door. When kids come home on that last day they can run through it “like at the finish line of a race.”
A super cute idea at SignUpGenius that involves the whole family is creating a “Family Summer Bucket List.” Family members fill small buckets with ideas, either jotted on scrolled or folded paper or represented by objects, of what they would like the family to do together over the summer.
Another of their ideas is a “Mystery Trip,” suggesting that “On the last day of school pick the kids up and journey a secret adventure to the bowling alley, ice cream shop, or nail salon. Select a favorite spot that they only get to go to for ‘special occasions.’ After all, this is one!”
In 2014, Tricia Mirchandani, writing for The Happiest Home blog, promoting “the art of sane + satisfying family life,” offered “3 Ways to Celebrate the End of the School Year.” One of her suggestions was to take the family out to eat and then reflect on the school year including its ups and downs and accomplishments both big and small. Mirchandani’s second idea was a small gift, particularly a book. She writes, “use this time to remind your child how much she loves to read and how much fun it is to get lost in a good story.” Her third idea was a family movie night, possibly with pizza, popcorn, and later-than-usual bedtime.
In a world of diminishing traditions, creating new end-of-school-year rituals that integrate work and play, school and home life, and individual effort and family support, can create big smiles and lasting memories.