Top tips for the end of the school year

My mom friends and I refer to the fifth month of the year as The Month of May-hem. The time between Spring Break and the end of the school year is invariably a wild ride of final school projects, assemblies, parties, book fairs, sorting out summer plans and more. And that’s all on top of the usual craziness of life with kids!

I recently learned that pausing to reflect on skills gained, memories made, the highs and even the lows is a powerful way to encourage growth and change in our kids. I typically feel like I slide into June on two wheels, so it’s helpful to remember that reflection can be informal and can take place over multiple days. Consider the following suggestions to help you institute an end of year review for your family:

1. Academics

Listing the concepts and skills that your child learned this year is a great way to help him build confidence. Children learn a staggering amount of information each year, but because they tend to live in the moment, they don’t always appreciate just how far they’ve come.

As you talk together about what he’s learned, encourage your child to reflect on the fact that some skills came easily, but others were harder won. This will help him during the next school year when he struggles. You can remind him that he has experienced struggles in the past, yet managed to persevere and learn what was necessary.

2. Social & emotional

The end of the school year is a good time to talk about your child’s experience with friends and classmates. Encourage him to recall enjoyable times and to reflect on what made those times so fun. Ask him to also reflect on times he felt frustrated, hurt, or sad and discuss what happened. What helped him to feel better or helped the situation to improve? Is there anything that could be done to avoid similar situations next year? Discuss which friends build him up and which friends leave him feeling depleted, uncomfortable or insecure. If you have a younger child, his answers will be good information to have so that you can encourage summer get-togethers with friends. Take a break over the summer from those school relationships that bring down his self-esteem.

3. Make it visual

Visual supports offer a concrete way to demonstrate all that our kids have learned during the school year. Consider creating one of the following visual supports with your child as part of your end of year review:

  • Walk of fame – write each of your child’s accomplishments, both academic and social/emotional, from the school year on separate pieces of paper and hang them in your home. Have your child lead the whole family through a tour of his accomplishments.
  • Paper chain – write an accomplishment on a strip of paper, then tape the paper strip into a circle. Connect the circle to additional accomplishment circles to form a long chain. Allow your child to proudly display the chain in his room or elsewhere in your home.
  • Balloon brags – write each accomplishment on a separate balloon, inflate the balloons, and encourage your child to revel in how many balloons he needed to inflate. Have fun kicking and batting the balloons back and forth.
  • Keepsake album – help your child make a scrapbook of his accomplishments and favorite memories. He can refer to these in the future when he needs a little boost of confidence.


4. Express gratitude

Studies have shown that expressing gratitude and feeling thankful can help with memory formation, decrease stress and anxiety, improve sleep and even increase immunity. Focusing on what we’re grateful for can help buffer us and our children from end of school stress and craziness.

Take time to express gratitude to your child – for working hard, trying his best, and contributing to your family and to society by learning and growing at school. You can also brainstorm with your child how to thank those who have supported him in his endeavors during the year, including people like his classroom teacher, P.E., art, and music teachers.

Simple, but meaningful gifts include:

  • personal notes of gratitude sharing what your child will remember most about his time with the recipient
  • handmade drawings or crafts
  • coffee shop gift cards
  • small plants or flowers
  • class scrapbooks or photo albums
  • trail mix, chocolates, or other favorite snacks
  • school supply store gift cards
  • bookstore gift cards
  • books for the classroom library
  • summer supplies: beach towel, beach blanket, beach reads, sun hat, or selection of sunscreens

I’m looking forward to talking with my kids and hearing what they have to say, and I’m relieved to know that I don’t have to carve out a huge chunk of time – our conversations can be pieced together from talks in the car, dinner table discussion and bedtime musings. The important thing is to encourage our kids to reflect on how far they’ve come, what they’ve learned, and what they’ve overcome. Let them feel just how very proud of them we are. Now, bring on summer!


Alison Bogle is a writer living in Austin with her husband and three children. A former fourth grade teacher, she now enjoys writing about children and education. You can also catch her talking about articles from Austin Family magazine each Thursday morning on FOX 7 Austin.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Austin Family Magazine

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this with your friends!