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Mother and child reading a book together in a tent set up outside

Celebrating the End of the School Year at Home

The end of the school year is usually a time for joyous celebration, with prom, graduations and the start of summer. And while this year might not be coming to a close in the way you imagined, it doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate all that your students accomplished.

Here are a few ideas to recognize the hard work of the students in your life, for all ages. 

Teenager in graduation robe and cap

Graduating high school and college seniors

Have a graduation photo shoot

This isn’t how seniors imagined graduating, but they can still document their accomplishment and create lifelong memories! Having a graduation photoshoot only requires a few things – the senior, a camera of any kind, and a photographer (or just a family member).

Have your senior dress up in one of their favorite outfits or their cap and gown, and take photos around your neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be all serious, either. Get creative and showcase how life has changed because of this stay-at-home order. Maybe you capture your Netflix nights or TikTok bloopers!

Hold a virtual graduation

Just because there won’t be a traditional graduation ceremony at your senior’s school or university, doesn’t mean they can’t have one with some of their closest friends and family. Create a graduation ceremony of your own and share it through a video chat. Your child and family members or friends can write funny or sentimental speeches, talk about the past few years and share what they’re looking forward to. 

Organize a parade

Coordinate a neighborhood-wide senior drive through. Residents can cheer on the seniors from their front yard, praising their accomplishments as they drive by. High school seniors could decorate their cars to match where they’re going to college or highlight their postgraduation plans.

Teenager looking through homework with adult

High school

Throw a prom at home

If your student has been looking forward to prom all year, help them throw a virtual one with their friends. Decorate the house, create a fun playlist and help them dress up. They can video chat with their friends while they dance and reminisce. Your whole family can get in on the fun, too. Just dress up along with them!

Make a (socially distanced) summer bucket list

Give your kids something to look forward to with a summer bucket list. While we may not know what the summer will look like right now, you can still plan things to do around your house or neighborhood. Take on a small renovation project, learn a new skill, go to all the parks nearby or start a garden. The possibilities are endless!

Two middle school aged children working on homework at table

Middle school

Have a movie night with friends using Netflix Party

Celebrate the end of the school year with a movie night and invite your kids’ friends. Netflix Party, a Google Chrome extension, lets your kids watch their favorite shows and movies with friends who have a Netflix account. Make some snacks and settle in for some fun!

 Grill and go camping

Nothing says summer like a cookout and camping! Plan a fun dinner with your student’s favorite dishes and camp out under the stars. If your family prefers the great indoors, it’s rainy, or the closest outdoor space is shared with others, set up a campsite in your house! Roll out some blankets, roast (or microwave) some s’mores, and play games as a family to kick off summer. 

Child being helped with schoolwork by teacher

Preschool and elementary school

Send your teachers a thank you note or video

The closing of schools was an unexpected change for teachers, too. Show your appreciation for all they do, and especially for helping your students and you get through this time. Your kids can make cards by hand or you can film a video of them telling their teachers how much they mean to them. This is an easy and simple way to make a teacher’s day – they miss their students!

Have an end-of-year video chat with your class

Adjusting to days without their classmates is hard for elementary school students, although they may not show it. They likely miss the camaraderie of their friends. If your school has already set up video chats for classes, you could host a goodbye party during the last day of school. If you child’s class hasn’t used video chats, there are plenty of free video chatting apps that your child’s teacher can use to set up a call. Give the party a theme for an extra element of fun! They could all eat an ice cream sundae, do a happy dance, wear a costume, have crazy hair or share their favorite moment from the school year.

Nobody saw the school year ending this way, but don’t let it hold you back. Graduating and finishing another year of school is a big accomplishment and deserves to be recognized. Now, go celebrate!

Inspired by this blog? Take pictures of your family creating moments together. Post them on Instagram or Facebook and tag @OhioHealth. Creating joy and bonding with those we love play important roles in achieving our best health.