When it’s time to celebrate the end of your child’s school year, you’re probably exhausted. But think back to your days in elementary school and remember how that first day of Summer felt. You had all the time in the world and not a care. Now add in some family celebrations and traditions, and you have memories being made every year. I believe in celebrating anything that calls for it – and the end of the school year is no exception. So here are 12 of my favorite ways to celebrate the end of the school year with your child(ren). Choose one (or ten!) and celebrate that amazing child of yours!
Celebrate Your Child with Pizza and a Movie to Celebrate the End of the School Year
It’s an oldie by goodie for a reason! Celebrate your child by ordering some pizzas (or getting frozen pizzas – I’m loving this bacon, chicken, ranch pizza from Walmart!) and throw a movie on for the whole family. Bonus points for yummy popcorn or turning on an outdoor projector!
Take to the Woods
When your child gets home from school, toss them in the car and head to the woods! Spend a night (or three) at a camp ground, under the stars, talking about their favorite memories from the school year and sharing all they learned in that grade level (whether it was in the classroom or not)! Reflecting on what they learned is a powerful way to cement those experiences in their brain.
Go to Lunch
Celebrate your child’s school year ending with a fun lunch at a restaurant with your child’s friends and their parents. Choose a spot that’s family-friendly (so you don’t have to worry about noise) and say “cheers” to another school year in the books. Maybe add some silly superlatives into the mix and hand out an award to each child.
Hit Up the Bookstore to Celebrate the End of the School Year
Take your child to the bookstore on the last day of school. Or the library! Or a used bookstore! Together, pick out their Summer to-read list! Planning which books you each want to read over the next month or two is a great way to make sure reading is a priority (and not a chore)!
Host a Monthly Read-a-thon
You know in elementary classrooms where you show up to school in your pajamas, an armful of books, and you read all day? Surprise your kids with a monthly read-a-thon. Set up a tent in your living room, fill it with pillows and blankets, add a stack of library books in different genres (think comics, graphic novels, nonfiction magazines, and favorite fiction stories), and then read ALL DAY LONG. Take a brain break every hour or so (run outside, dance to music, go to a park) and just embrace a slow, quiet day full of reading.
Host a Family Game Night
Pull out your best game show host voice and dive into a game night. My favorite game to play, with kids 7 and older, is TwentyOne (aka blackjack). It’s quick, improves math skills, and is fun for all ages! Just make sure your child is the one doing their math (and not you)! We played as a family growing up and used peanuts to place our bets. In no way do I condone gambling with your children, but I do love playing TwentyOne and all the learning that comes with it. And there’s no better way to celebrate the end of the school year than sitting down as a family and enjoying time together. See some of my favorite math games for kids, HERE.
Have a Scavenger Hunt to Celebrate the End of the School Year
Want to host a scavenger hunt to celebrate the end of your child’s school year? Write some silly clues on a piece of paper, hide the paper around your house, and add in some fun treats for each clue they find (or just have one treat at the end – like popcorn and a new movie)! This would be fun to create every year on the last day of school.
Share a Journal
Want to engage your child in more writing this Summer? Pick up a journal and write a letter to them congratulating them on another school year in the books! Or start a story. Or draw a picture. Ask them to respond in it (there is no “wrong way” for them to respond) and continue writing/drawing back and forth all Summer. Fill up your journal with memories, stories, and letters. In order to maximize its effectiveness, make it fun and silly and never ever correct your child’s writing. Praise them for anything they do and they will keep coming back to write more!
Decorate Your Home
One of the simplest ways to celebrate your child’s school year ending is to put up some decorations for when they get home that last day. It’s always exciting to walk in your home and see that someone took a minute to celebrate YOU and all you’ve accomplished! THIS Summer banner or THIS “We are so proud of you” banner would be perfect and both are reasonably priced under $11.
Make a Special “End of Year” Dessert
My mom always made us a School Bus Cake on the first day of school, and it was such a silly and fun way to honor the new school year. The same could be done for celebrating the end of the school year. Find a special (and simple!) treat and recreate it every year to celebrate the end of school!
Name That School Year
I’ve seen couples who name each year of their marriage like a Friend’s Episode. Like, “The One Where We Became Parents” or “The One Where We Learned About Pets”. Try naming your child’s school year with something big they did. Like, “The One Where Lachlan Conquered Fractions” or “The One Where Isla Met Her Goal of Reading 20 Books” It’s simple, FREE, and a great way to commemorate the school year coming to a close.
Enjoy a New “Pet”
I don’t mean a dog or cat. I’m thinking more along the lines of caterpillars that will turn into butterflies. Or ladybugs that you can watch grow. These simple “pets” will be fun for your whole family to watch and enjoy, with very little upkeep or maintenance. It’s really a win-win all the way around! And adding a few plants to your garden that attract butterflies or ladybugs is also a fun Summer activity.
With that said, if the idea of actually getting a pet such as a dog or a cat interests you and your family, then this could be a massive surprise to celebrate your child’s school year too! This is especially true if you’ve been talking about getting a dog as a family for some time now. You can aim for specific breeds, like looking for black lab puppies, or you could go down to a local shelter together with your child as a surprise so they can pick what pet they’d like to bring home.
Of course, this no longer makes it a “simple” way to celebrate, but can be extremely meaningful and memorable to your child.
Don’t Forget Your Teacher!
And you can’t forget your teacher when you celebrate your child’s school year ending. Teachers don’t need coffee mugs or stuffed animals. I’m going to be honest with you, they want cash. Grab a nice card, write a thoughtful message, and include a $100 gift card to a nearby restaurant. Or collect $20 from each parent and get a larger gift card. If you can’t do $100, then any amount is great, but teachers deserve the best!
No matter how you celebrate the end of the school year
Be sure to enjoy the Summer and make the most of it. You only get 18 Summers with your children at home and there’s nothing quite like that *last day of school* feeling.
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