The Dad’s Guide to the End of the School Year

  by Erik Wolgemuth

The arrival of summer means many things: the absence of cold weather-induced cabin fever, grilling, popsicles, the pool, and the trials of sunscreening a two-year-old. Before moving straight to these activities, be sure not to overlook an important milestone that ushers in this new season: the end of the school year.

Don’t worry, this piece won’t delve into the heated debates about the validity of the 3rd grade graduation ceremony. But I contend that the end of the school year is cause for celebration and remembrance. Pomp and Circumstance won’t likely be playing (though if you do find a way to incorporate it, I’d love the story), but this milestone shouldn’t pass as a non-event. This is an opportunity to reflect on experiences, acknowledge growth, and celebrate hard work and learning.

Here are a few ideas for how to make your kid’s end of the school year a memorable one:

  • Reflect: ask about the best parts of the year … and also what was the most difficult. What was a highlight (and low light) with their friends? What was the best field trip? Their favorite thing to learn (and the hardest thing to learn)?
  • Toast: get a little fancy with some sparkling juice (or, albeit less fancy, some orange soda) and toast your students’ progression and accomplishments. Let them know how you saw them grow and mature over the course of the year.
  • Excursion: this is a good opportunity to do something a little out of the ordinary. Mini-golf, a trip to the movies, bowling…you’re looking for anything that will immediately result in cheering.
  • Dine: since a solid routine for getting ready and out the door at a decent hour has likely been established, capitalize on that one more time and take your student out for breakfast. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy – think: bagel shop, IHOP, or Chick-fil-A (see: Minis, Chicken).

Whatever the route you choose, find a way to mark the end of the school year with celebration. The progression through each academic year is a significant milestone. Don’t let it pass unmarked.


School is grit-building, a critical trait for our kids (and us too). Yet we shouldn’t be so ends-focused that we miss what’s happening along the way for habits and values are being formed all the time.

Picture by Luca Upper; Used via Unsplash license.