7 Action-Packed Ideas to Celebrate the End of the School Year (For Parents)

The end of the school year is a big deal to every kid. As adults, we sometimes forget how important it is to them, which can make for an anticlimactic start to summer.

The end of the school year is an accomplishment — one that’s worthy of celebrating. They put in the hard work, achieved their goals, and powered through their academic journey with style (especially if they’re still young enough to let you help them pick their outfit).

Whether they’re moving on to a new grade or graduating from high school, they’re growing up. The end of the school year is the perfect time to reflect on a year well spent, and celebrate. We’re not talking about a giant extravaganza — a little can go a long way. The goal is to make them feel special.

All ages

No matter what age your child is, here are some action-packed ideas to celebrate the end of the year:

1) Start a surprise parents vs. kids water war

Round up neighborhood parents to meet at the bus stop or scatter throughout your neighborhood. Instruct everyone to come equipped with water balloons and water guns (bring extra for the kids). Once the kids start exiting the bus or arrive to your neighborhood, start launching those water balloons.

Trust us; they’ll absolutely love a parents vs. kids water fight. Oh, and make sure they’re in a safe location before you start splashing away.

2) Reveal your summer vacation location

This is a great way to build the summer anticipation, especially if you have more than one child. You’ll have to start the conversation a few months before summer hits. On the last day of school, give each kid an envelope with a riddle or clue. Then, instruct them to work together to find out the super-cool place they’re visiting this summer.

3) Make them a “finish line” banner to run through

Hand-paint a paper banner or get one made that says something like, “You did it!” or “Summer’s Here!” Hang it up across your front door or garage so your kid(s) can run through it when they get home from their last day of school.

We’re on a roll! Let’s keep the fun moving with end-of-year celebration ideas arranged according to grade level:

Elementary school

Elementary school kids are great. They’re still eager enough to follow orders and curiously excited enough not to be “too cool” for things.

4) Plan a special trip to the bookstore

Take your child to the bookstore and let them pick a fun book to read over the summer. And you don’t have to necessarily push them toward any required reading for the next year, either; this is supposed to be fun. Letting them choose their own book gives them a sense of independence and ownership.

To make the trip extra special, stop at an ice cream shop, their favorite playground, or check out a movie before or after you get there.  

Middle School

This is the age where kids start pulling away from their parents and begin clinging onto their friends. So, why not celebrate the end of the year by giving them exactly what they want?

5) Throw them a pool party

Invite your child’s friends and their parents over for a pool party. Whether it’s at your house or a local recreation center, this is the perfect way to splash into the summer. To make things easy for everyone, order pizza. This way, you don’t have to worry about food and can get in some pool time, too.

High School

If there’s one thing high school kids crave, it’s independence. Before you know it, they’ll be off to college. (Yes, without you.) The end of the year is a great opportunity to teach them about responsibility.

6) Give them a new freedom

Prepare them for the independence they want so badly by giving them a new responsibility. This will make them feel trusted and valued. Try extending their curfew, increasing their allowance, encouraging them to get a job, etc.

Remember to tell them why they’re getting this new-found freedom and explain the importance of responsibility and the trust that comes with it.

One more before you go (perhaps the most important one)…

At Summit Learning, we’re all about setting yourself up for success. It’s why we put such an emphasis on setting goals and developing a plan to reach them. But for the best results, try the following:

7) Reflect on the year’s failures and successes

Whether it’s over dinner or when you’re getting in some pool time as a family, make it a point to talk about your child’s failures throughout the year. Ask them what they could have done differently. And most importantly, highlight all the ways they’ve grown and found success over the past year.

Already have some great end-of-year traditions of your own? Share them with other parents on the Summit Learning Facebook.

Wherever your child is headed, setting goals for the next year sets them up for success. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to set SMART goals with your child.

About the author

Summit Learning
Summit Learning is a research–based approach to education designed to drive student engagement, meaningful learning, and strong student–teacher relationships that prepare students for life after graduation. Created by teachers with experience in diverse classrooms, Summit Learning is grounded in decades of research about how children learn. With Summit Learning, students gain mastery of core subjects like math, history, English, and science, while also carefully developing the skills and habits of lifelong learners. Summit Learning is independently led and operated by the nonprofit, Gradient Learning.