Reflect, Dream, Celebrate: Our Last Day of School Traditions


School’s (almost) out for the summer! I am one of those unique parents who greets the end of the school year with the same eager anticipation as my kids. We are all ready for long, lazy days with less hustle and bustle and more fun. So, as the school days dwindle, I find myself thinking of ways to celebrate the last day of school and officially kick off Summer Vacation.

My last day of school traditions can be classified into three categories: reflect, dream, and celebrate.

Reflect on the School Year

Before we jump into summer, I think it’s important to reflect on the school year that we have completed—for better or worse. Whether we are looking back on how our students persevered through a tough year or celebrating how much they’ve learned, it’s important to recognize and mark their progress, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

First & Last Day of School Comparison Photo

child's first day/last day of school comparison photos, last day of school traditions
First and last day of school comparison photo of my daughter’s second grade year.

One of my favorite ways to reflect is with a good first/last day of school comparison picture. It’s fun to see how much (and how quickly!) our kids have changed in the last nine months. A lot of times, you can see a bit of nerves or anxiety on their faces in the first day photo, and those emotions are completely replaced in the last day photo. It’s a good reminder for all of us that we can do hard things.

Talk About Favorites of the Year

On the last day of school, our family takes the time to talk about the school year, and ask about favorite memories, accomplishments, friendships made, etc. Acknowledging these important markers in our children’s lives is a form of celebration.

End-of-School-Year Interview

Similar to talking about the year, is making a printable end-of-school interview. A quick Google search will yield a wide variety of results, but here is one of my favorite last-day-of-school interviews. It’s a simple way to capture who your child is at this brief moment in time. I think these are a fun keepsake of parenthood.

Dream About What’s to Come

In addition to reflecting on the school year, the last day of school is a time to think about what you want to accomplish during the summer.

Summer Bucket List

A couple of years ago, my family started dreaming up our own Summer Bucket List. It gives each child the freedom to dream and imagine what they want our summer to look like. Some of their ideas are simple (go on bike rides), some are more of a stretch (go to Disney World), but either way, it’s fun to sit and talk and watch them dream. And we all love to see how many items we are able to cross off our list throughout the summer.

We usually write up a list and put it on the refrigerator where everyone can easily see it all summer long. However, there are some fun printable versions, too.


The end of the school year is definitely a time to celebrate! Our kids (and their parents!) have worked hard, they’ve grown, they’ve persevered, and we should celebrate all that they have accomplished. Your celebration doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but taking the time to acknowledge this transition in your child’s life will make them feel special and a little extra loved.

Cool Tasty Treats

My kids and I like to greet our summer break with a cool tasty treat. On the last day of school we grab a few friends and track down some ice cream, popsicles, or snow cones.

Water Balloon Surprise

I have several friends who greet their children, either at home or at the bus stop, with a surprise water balloon attack on the last day of school. I think this sounds like the perfect beginning to your summer celebration!

Kids’ Choice Dinner and Movie Night

One of my favorite ways to usher in summer break at our house is to let the kids pick dinner and a movie for us to enjoy together on the first official night of summer vacation. I treasure these sweet nights of all of us piled in the living room enjoying a movie together, because I know that like summer, they will pass us by all too quickly.

What are some of your favorite last day of school traditions?


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