The Last Day of School: Five Ideas to End It Well

 

I drove past the local grocery store today.  Outside, there sat a temporary greenhouse and hundreds of flowerpots scattered around it, all for sale.

My heart dropped.

I have no issue with flowers at all.  But, as my children grow up, I am newly aware of the cycle of things… and it makes me a little sad to see how quickly we are back here… late spring… year end… All of us leaning, heads forward, straining for the finish line of another school year.

Somewhere along the way, the beginnings and endings of the academic year began to signal growth and the passage of time far more than any birthday we celebrate.  And while saying good-bye to school and our amazing teachers is hard for me, I know it is often far harder for my kids.

We feel blessed to have access to a school we love that strives diligently to do what is best for students academically, emotionally, physically and spiritually.  My kids feel loved, genuinely, and the wonder of this is not lost on us, at all.

Because of this, it has been important for us to find simple ways to offer closure as each year ends.  To be honest, I think it is so easy to overlook this… but I want to offer the opportunity to help my children mark the end of the year well and to honor those who have given selflessly to them since September.  This is a time of transition… from schedule to sleeping in, from homework to free play, from purposeful lessons to fostering curiosity… from being away all day to being home with family and enjoying a less structured season…

Yes, I want to mark this time.  And I want to help my children do the same.  Here are five ideas that have worked well for us.

  1. Find your first-day shirt!  We let our kids pick out the clothes they wear on the first day of school.  Usually, the shirt they pick will reflect on something they experienced over the summer.  At the end of the year, we hunt down these shirts (we are horrible at organizing laundry) and wear them on the last day of school. When we take pictures that day, we stand in the same order, in the same place in the yard, and often there is clear physical growth evident!  It is a tradition we have all come to enjoy.
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    First and last day picture…
  2. Thank you notes!  At Christmas, I always write a detailed thank you note to my children’s teachers.  At the end of the year, this is a task I give to my kids.  We brainstorm things that they learned from their teachers, specific field trips that they loved, experiences shared in the classroom that have created memories they can keep.  Then, I have my kids hand-write a thank you note including these things.  (Shhhh…. this is a secret… After the notes are written, we scan them into the computer and keep them for a future keepsake.)
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  3. Flowers and baked goods!  On the last day of school, I bring each teacher a potted plant and some homemade baked good. (Thus my sadness over seeing the flowers for sale at the grocery store… this day is drawing near.)  When I give them these simple gifts, my kids give them the handwritten thank you note. I also take a picture of my kids with their teachers.  030 032
  4. Last day greeting!  I noticed early on that my kids were a little teary sometimes on the last day of school… especially when it was over.  I wanted to be encouraging and help them to think about all that is to come so we started greeting them after school with “Happy Summer!!!” which usually did the trick. 035
  5. Final day picnic!  After we say our good-byes at school, we head over to a local park with friends.  We bring lunch and play outside and begin to ease into the slower pace that summer brings.

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This, I know for sure: School is a very important part of my kids’ lives.  They spend a lot of time there with friends and teachers and they build memories, both good and bad, that become part of who they are.  Never again will they have this mix of people, all in the same place.  I want to help them end it well.  I want to help them look back and be grateful and look forward and dream.

And once we have done all this, I look forward to the beginning of a brand new thing.  :)

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Backyard campfires (or burning our own Christmas tree!)
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Beach time!
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Finding the perfect rock or shell…
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Backyard play with the only dog who knows how to play soccer!
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The gift of time…

Blessings on your day!