7 Fun Family Traditions for the Last Day of School

Why You Need An End Of The School Year Tradition

Girls leaving school on last day for summer break.
Happy times as the end of the school year ushers in summer break. Klaus Vedfeldt via Getty Images

The end of the school year marks a big transition in your child's life. They have spent 36 or more weeks in their current grade, where they have worked hard to learn, form friendships and even gain work ethic skills.  

End of the year traditions can help your child adjust from their routine of all day at school to their summer break schedule. 

You get to choose what kind of tradition you would like for your family. Choose a tradition that demonstrates - and celebrates - the values your family has that are connected to school and family togetherness. It doesn't have to be time-consuming or expensive to host, it just needs to be an enjoyable way to mark the completion of a year of school and the beginning of summer break.

Keep reading for suggestions on end-of-the-year traditions. Just remember, it's your family, and you can tailor your traditions anyway you like.

The Last Day Of School Dinner Party

Dinner party for the end of the school year
Dinner with family and friend is a great way to celebrate the end of the school year. CaiaImage/Martin Barraud via Getty Images

Celebrate the close of the school year with a special dinner on the last day of school. You can get together with extended family or your child's classmates and their families.

Many schools will have an early out on the last day of school, so your child may have a few hours to relax before celebrating the completion of the school year. 

Take special notes of accomplishments over the course of the meal.

  • Offer up a toast where you mention the completion of the grade.  
  • Bring up your child's successes that happened over the course of the year.  
  • Be sure to include top grades on difficult assignments, participation in extracurricular activities and positive changes in personal habits.

Beginning of Summer Party

Kids having fun at a summer party.
Celebrate the new beginning with a party to usher in summer. Jade Albert Studios, Inc. via Getty Images

If your family is ready to put the school year behind you, celebrate a new beginning instead.  Celebrating the beginning of the summer can also help your child shift into their new routine. Have this event in the days following the release of school.

Use this time to prepare for any plans your family may have for the summer. Toasts and conversation can center around planned family trips and activities that will keep your child's mind and body active over the summer break

Gift A Summer Goody Basket

Classic toys for young children will see hours of play during the summer
Classic toys are a great theme for a younger child's summer gift bucket. Dave King via Getty Images

End of year traditions can be small or large. You don't have to host a full out party or plan  a special dinner. Instead, present your child or teen with a custom basket tailored just for them.

  • Fill the basket with summer toys such as water squirters, sand toys or sunglasses. 
  • Planning a vacation? Pack the basket full of items themed to your trip like age appropriate travel guides, binoculars or other travel accessories.  
  • Keep growing your child's reading skills by giving them a custom summer reading basket. If you aren't sure where to start in your search for reads try this list of suggested summer reading books for school-age kids.  
  • You can also add fun activity books like Mad-Libs, crossword or other puzzle games.

Create An End Of The Year Gallery

Boy hangs his school work in a gallery setting.
Home artwork galleries can be made from common household items. Laura Ciappioni via Getty Images

Have you been saving your child's school work over the course of the year? Celebrate the completion of the school year by hanging up your families favorite and proudest pieces of work in a custom gallery. Pick out pieces to display with your child.

Going through the entire school year's work together will let your child or teen so how much they have learned and improved over the year. This will help them see how much they can change over a period of time - which is a huge developmental shift for children and teens.

Seeing their best work is a big self-esteem booster for your child. It will also reinforce the value your family places on learning and school success.

Have A Summer Treasure/Scavenger Hunt

Two kids look at hand drawn map to find a treasure.
A themed scavenger hunt is a fun way to kick off summer. Westend61 via Getty Images

Make the shift into summer activities with a fun activity of its own. Design a scavenger hunt where your child has to solve a series of clues placed around your home and yard to get their summer goody basket.  

Have a special summer trip, camp or other activity planned for the summer? Use the scavenger hunt to tell your children.  

For example, if you signed your child up for an outdoor skills camp, you could hide sunglasses at one location along with the next clue, a sleeping bag at the next clue, and have the information about the camp at the final stop when they have solved the each clue.

Have A School Supply Swap

School supplies for an early summer swap
Swapping school supplies now can help everyone be prepared for next fall. David Franklin via Getty Images

Celebrate the end of one grade and moving on to the next by switching up the usable gear all at once. This is also a great way to teach older children about organizing an event while passing on your values relating to frugality or reusing perfectly good materials.  

You don't have to wait until the beginning of the next school year to start getting ready for the next grade.  Find new homes for school supplies and school clothing before it gets lost in someone's attic by organizing a school supply swap.

Want to swap, but don't have the time or energy to organize it?  Fortunately, end-of-the-year swaps are gaining in popularity.  Check in your local paper, your school newsletter and on social media outlets to find out if there will be an end-of-year swap in your area.

Do An End Of The Year Picture

Mother taking a picture of her ready-for-school daughter
A photo to remember the last day of school can be great way to memorialize the end of a school year. JGI/Jame Grill via Getty Images

Remember that picture you took on the first day of the school year? I bet your child or teen has grown and changed since then.  

Take a picture of them on the last day to mark the change. If you didn't get first-day pictures, you can still take last day of school pictures for your own tradition.

Customize this tradition in several different ways:

  • If you did first day of school pictures, have them put on the same outfit and take a picture of how different they look in the same clothes now.  
  • Have your child hold a sign that says "Finished - __ Grade!!"
  • Capture an excited smile, thumbs up or even jump for joy about finishing the year and moving on to summer.

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