In this new quarantine life we are all living, we are beginning to think about how we will bring closure to the school year at home. Instead of talent shows, open houses, field days, and class parties, we have distance learning, zoom calls, and cooped up kids who miss their teachers and friends. We also have parents who have been managing the homeschool curriculum for (sometimes) multiple grade levels and (sometimes) while juggling their own workload from home. And, last but not least, we have teachers who have had to adjust on the fly and work in ways they never imagined.
As we bring this unprecedented school year to an end, let’s not forget what we’ve accomplished. Students, teachers, and parents alike were thrown into distance learning overnight– we all deserve to celebrate big come June! While I’m sure teachers have some special surprises up their sleeves, there are things that we as parents can do to celebrate at home. We can still channel the feelings of joy, excitement, and accomplishment that those big school celebrations bring to our kids. Read on for some simple ideas to bring closure to the school year in fun and inventive ways at home.
Video Conference Performance
Whether your child is in preschool or fifth grade, learning new skills is hard and should be celebrated. Many children thrive on the proud feelings they get in a room full of their teachers and peers when they succeed at something. Furthermore, kids gain self-confidence when they can show off something they are good at. We can give them those same feelings at home with a scheduled performance via videoconferencing.
First, decide what learning skill your child might enjoy showing off. Maybe it’s reading aloud, reciting a piece of their writing, performing a science experiment, or even solving math problems. Then, invite your child’s loved ones to watch them shine over Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout, or another preferred platform. Make sure to leave some time at the end of the meeting for your audience to applaud and give their remarks. This activity also gives back to lonely grandparents who are missing their grandkids fiercely right now.
It’s a common tradition for many families to enjoy a nice dinner out at a restaurant after a big milestone event like a performance or a graduation. Many times even classrooms will share a pot-luck meal or special treat at a class party to end the school year. In the absence of eating out and communal gatherings, special family dinners are a great way to celebrate, bring closure to the school year, and spread some joy too.
Make sure to plan ahead so that you can put time into creating a dinner that will stand out from all the others you’ve shared during quarantine. Stock up on supplies to make a meal your children will love. Don’t forget about a special dessert! On the chosen night, get out the fancy dishes and set the table. You might even require a dress code. When you sit down to enjoy the meal with your family, make sure to start with a toast and acknowledge all that your children accomplished this year. You can go even further and keep the dinner conversation centered on growths and academic achievements. Your child will walk away from a normal family dinner with a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Family Fun Day
Lasting school memories are often centered around special days like class parties and field day. These are the moments that kids can break free from the normal school rules and just be kids. These are the moments that kids always name as the best part of their school year. While we can’t give our children a gathering with their friends, we can give them a day of fun with their parents and siblings, their first friends.
Family Fun Day does not have to be elaborate. If you name it Family Fun Day and stay focused on being playful with your children for a designated portion of the day, it will feel special without much effort. You can use what you have around your house to plan your family fun day. Maybe you will keep it simple by playing a game of soccer or having some races across the backyard. You might get adventurous and plan an outdoor adventure at a local park. Or, maybe you go over the top and plan an at home field day with games like two-legged race, water balloon toss, and tug-o-war and top it all off with old school pinned-on ribbons (remember those?).
Whatever you do or don’t do to bring closure to the school year, make sure you acknowledge and celebrate all of the obstacles that you, your child, and their teacher have overcome. It is definitely a school year to remember!