These 5 meaningful & sweet end of school traditions are simple enough to start any time and will help make the transition from school year to summer meaningful and special for your family.
The school year is quickly wrapping up for many over the next several weeks. The last few weeks in May always feel so crazy and overwhelming with all the different end of school traditions and activities from field day, the talent show, teacher appreciation, graduations, and awards ceremonies.
It all is fun but it is also a little bittersweet as well.
It’s a reminder your child is one year older and will never be in this current grade again.
Saying goodbye to favorite teachers and having friends in the same class can be sad but the arrival of summer is exciting… and I don’t know about you but I always get excited about a new school year before the old one even ends! 😂
Summer is filled with long days at the pool, vacations, lots of play dates, unstructured time, and many opportunities for special memories and traditions.
B U T before you close the door to the school year, the end of the school year is also a great place to create special memories and participate in sweet traditions.
While I personally love family traditions and rituals, a quick search on Pinterest will yield tons of end of school traditions.
It can be overwhelming and it can make you feel like you are missing out, especially if you haven’t been doing these traditions since the start of Kindergarten.
To keep things sweet and simple, these end of school traditions are simple enough to start any year and won’t make you feel like you have been missing out or are too late.
5 Simple & Sweet End of School Traditions You Can Start This Year
Go Out for a Special Treat
For the past few years, one afternoon during the last week of school, I pick the kids up and instead of heading home for our usual afternoon routine, I head to our local frozen custard place.
The kids look forward to this for months!
Every single day starting in the last month of school, they ask if TODAY is the day in the morning at breakfast. I keep shrugging my shoulders and saying “Soon!” 😉
It honestly couldn’t be any more simple of a tradition for us.
I just pick an afternoon I know is free and open, save a few coupons or save up some Swagbucks for Paypal cash to make the treat free or frugal.
I let the kids get two scoops and whatever toppings they want (Why do kids love to put sour gummy worms on ice cream?!?!) 😝
On that beloved day, once they all get in the van after pickup, I always say… “Guess what today is?… It’s an ice cream day!” and they GO BONKERS because they have been looking forward to this treat all year long.
We get our ice cream treats and sit down.
Now that my kids are older, I can ask them reflective questions about the school year so our conversation is centered on reflecting on a completed grade level.
We celebrate, we reminisce, we eat ice cream together. It’s such a special afternoon and our family favorite end of school tradition.
Take a Picture
Most end of school tradition searches on Pinterest will tell you to take a photo of your child wearing an oversized shirt with their graduation year on it. As the years go on, your child will grow into the shirt.
That is sweet, and I honestly wish I would have thought of it, but if you are like me and it’s a tad too late to start that particular tradition, it’s never too late to just take a picture.
Take a picture of them on the morning of their last day of school.
Take a picture of them with their teacher for a final time.
Take a picture of them with their current group of friends.
If they are graduating or moving on to a new school (middle school from elementary for example) take a picture in front of the building or with their principal.
Take a picture of you and your child.
It doesn’t need to be fancy share on Instagram-worthy picture.
Just a simple photo to capture the accomplishment of another year-end is a special way to memorialize the close of the chapter.
There are plenty of free editing tools (PicMonkey or Canva is what I use and love) where you could always go back and add a text overlay to each end-of-the-school-year photo to say “Last day of _____ (current grade)” or even “Future Graduate of ____ (graduation year)“
If you are fancy, you could even have your child stand in the same exact spot where they took their first-day-of-school photo. 😊
Taking a simple photo is such a simple end of school tradition but one you will cherish for years to come.
Write a Letter to Your Child
I’m a big fan of keeping a memory journal to regularly write letters to your kids so writing an end of school letter seems appropriate.
In your own letter, you can write about the changes and growth you have seen over the year. What they excelled in, what they struggled with but overcame, what they persisted with, how proud of the choices they have made, special memories you have of their school year, and even prayers or Scripture verses you want them to remember.
After you write the letter, you can save it in their memory journal or in a box of mementos from their school year. This way when they get older, they will have a whole collection of letters and words written from you to them.
If they are older, you can “mail” the letter to them. Who doesn’t love to receive snail mail?
You don’t have to make a big production about it either, just let them read it on their own so they can process it. This is an end of the year tradition that will mean more to them than you may ever know.
Give a New Bible to Your Child
Has your child outgrown their children’s Bible?
Are they ready for their first Bible?
Do you want to send them off to college with a study Bible?
The end of school is a perfect time to gift them a brand new Bible!
You can even inscribe a special note inside or have their name engraved on a leather cover.
We will do the same for each of our children when they finish Kindergarten, and when they all graduate from elementary school and move into middle or high school, we will replace the children’s Bible with a study Bible designed for teenagers. This is a special end of school tradition that I look forward to!
Make a Summer Bag
Another fun idea we have done the past few years is to welcome them home from school on the last day with a summer bag filled with “summer survival” items… practical & fun things they will need all summer long.
As a bonus, the bag can double as a book bag they take to the library to fill with books for reading all summer long!
What a fun end of school tradition to come home to each year?
Some items might include:
- New swimsuit & flip flops
- Hat or sunglasses
- Sunscreen or lip balm
- Bug spray
- Pool pass or gift certificate to a local water park
- Sidewalk chalk, bubbles (my kids LOVE to make these), or other independent outdoor toys
- Activity books to keep them occupied (my kids LOVE these Paint By Sticker books literally no mess and keeps them busy… perfect for road trips or hot afternoons when everyone just needs to relax)
- Grade-level Practice books to keep math or language arts skills fresh over the summer
- Write the Word Journal to not only help practice handwriting skills but to also plant seeds of faith
- Journals or notebooks to record summer memories
- Disposable water camera… kids LOVE to take photos plus these they can use in the pool!
The ideas are endless! You can make these age-appropriate too. Even teenagers love to receive items they can use all summer long.
To keep it frugal, I scan the Target Dollar Spot frequently and use Amazon gift cards I earn from Swagbucks.
I also make sure that every single item in their summer fun bag is something practical and I know they will use and love… because who wants extra clutter?
Write Your Bucket List
Summer is a fine balance between lots of fun summer activities, day camps, vacations, or local festivals with leisure days spent at home or lounging by the pool.
We all have good intentions but unless we make a plan, some of those things won’t happen.
This is where seasonal bucket lists come in!
Head here to get access to these bucket lists as well as all the free downloadable printables available in the resource library!
On the evening of the last day of school, we like to sit down and have everyone share 2-3 things they would love to do this summer. We add them to the bucket list, then add the things we already have planned which might include specific vacations, VBS at church, day camps, lessons, or events.
Write them all on the bucket list and then place on the refrigerator or another place that is visible to all. Next, actually, write some of those activities on the calendar so you have a plan for when and how they will happen.
Make sure every single family member has at least 1-2 of their preferred items planned on the calendar so everyone feels included. This end of school tradition helps us set up for an intentional summer!
Hopefully, these end 0f school tradition ideas will help make the transition from school year to summer meaningful and special for your family.