How to Throw a First Day of Summer Party To Bring Closure To Your Child’s School Year

Instead of an End of the School Year Party, give your child something to look forward to this month as schools wrap up with a First Day of Summer Party.

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THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL BLUES

This week, my kids’ school year ended. Instead of class parties, hugs good-bye and autographed yearbooks, they had a teacher parade and a pickup line to grab their stuff left behind. It was hard on them. The past few months have been excitement of “no school” only to realize what that really meant. This week they didn’t want it to end.

While teachers and districts did their best (I mean, we got a parade!) it wasn’t closure for my kiddos. My daughter graduated three years of preschool and missed her spring show and ceremony. My son missed a field trip, end of the year activities and being able to tell his friends good-bye.

Parents and teachers all over the world are trying to make these last days special for kids and it is so encouraging to see. But if your kids are feeling a little lost like mine, and bummed out after they only get to wave at their teacher instead of give them a big hug like they love doing, then maybe these few ideas will help give them a little more closure for the school year.

Instead of naming it the End of the School Year Party (which emphasizes the bummer you’re trying to avoid), name it The First Day of Summer Party. Studies show that having something to look forward to boosts your mood and planning something fun (like a vacation) provides the same benefits of actually going on a vacation.

HOST A FIRST DAY OF SUMMER PARTY AT HOME

1. DECORATE THE HOUSE THE NIGHT BEFORE

Use streamers in the doorway, set up some surfer-themed music, lay out beach-towels and activities in the living room, and a summery tablecloth and banner in the breakfast room.

2. HAVE A FIRST DAY OF SUMMER BREAKFAST

Dress donuts up as pool floaties with little umbrellas, milk with silly straws, and bowls of fresh fruit on skewers.

3. GIVE A FIRST DAY OF SUMMER GIFT

Find a few special goodies such as a new summer shirt, brand new art supplies, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, blow up pool, seeds for a garden, and set them all in a beach bucket.

4. MAKE A FAMILY BUCKET LIST

I’ve updated my original Summer Bucket List so to only include activities you can do while social distancing. Add more of your favorites in the blanks. Print yours here.

5. PLAY A FEW GAMES TOGETHER

Our favorites are Limbo, Musical Chairs, Bingo, Charades, Go Fish, and Sorry. You can print my summer charades games here.

6. HAVE A PICNIC AT THE PARK

Take the kids to a local park and bring a snack lunch from home (carrots in peanut butter, string cheese, trail mix, cut up fruit and veggies with hummus, etc). Spread out a blanket or set up some camping chairs. Toss a Frisbee around, fly a kite or feed the ducks.

7. TAKE A REST WITH A NEW BOOK

Give each child a new book they can enjoy on their own in their room for an hour rest time. It could be the start of a series, or one of your favorites as a kid. We like Choose Your Own Adventure and anything by Mo Willems.

8. PLAY WITH WATER

Set up a kiddy pool, a sprinkler, water balloon fight, a water table or fill a bucket with water and let them get creative with toys, buckets, rocks and plants. Anything to get them excited to play outside.

7. WATCH A SUMMER-THEMED MOVIE WITH DINNER

Wrap up the night with dinner outside and a movie under the stars. Exhausted and ready to turn in? That’s ok! Order pizza and watch a movie inside. At intermission, break out the ice cream sundaes or individual bowls of popcorn.

To create even more excitement, print this First Day of Summer Itinerary and get pumped about the day together!

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For more posts on what to do during the quarantine, read:

Happy Summer!

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8 Reasons Why Kids Need Routine

Don’t let routine fly out the window just because it’s summer. Sticking to a summer schedule will actually make your days easier, not harder.

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SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER

By now, you’ve probably learned that routine is helpful for your kids during these past few months at home. I’ve gotta be honest though, I am looking forward to the end of the school year when there are no more requirements during the week.

However, as a seasoned mom and former teacher, I know the power of creating a routine for your kids. Schedules are meant to be your friend, not your foe. Here are 8 reasons why you need to keep a summer schedule for your kids (and for your own sanity!)

8 REASONS YOU NEED A SUMMER SCHEDULE

1. TO HELP WITH BEHAVIOR ISSUES

Have a child that gets easily bored? Is anxious? Is destructive? Struggles with behavior issues? Routine, routine, routine. I promise it makes all the difference. Kids need structure and predictability. They like knowing what’s coming up next, and feel security in the repetition.

2. TO TEACH KIDS RESPONSIBILITY

I have trained my kids to do chores since they could walk. The little ones love to help unload the dryer and stand on a stool to load the washing machine. Don’t leave anyone out! This will pay off big time as they get older because it will be expected.

3. TO CREATE MEMORIES AS A FAMILY

Agreeing to go somewhere will seem like a way to calm the crazy–until you pay the bills. Make a plan for your outings ahead of time so that you can take advantage of free or cheap things to do. Get creative or use these ideas:

  • Make Something MONDAY (arts and crafts)
  • Treat TUESDAY (cook, bake, ice cream)
  • Water WEDNESDAY (sprinkler, pool, water guns)
  • Thoughtful THURSDAY (call, Face Time, letter to someone)
  • Field Trip FRIDAY (virtual field trips are great too!)
  • Simple SATURDAY (games with family, no technology)
  • Spiritual SUNDAY (Bible lesson)

I like to stick to themes because the kids get excited about the upcoming outing.

Once a week, it’s fun to spend some money and explore somewhere new! Go on a field trip to the zoo, museum, botanical garden, aquarium, Chuck E. Cheese, McDonald’s, watch a movie, go to a local event, etc.

Even if you don’t have kids–do this! Take an art class, try a yoga class, or try a new restaurant for lunch.

**Sidenote: During this quarantine, look for virtual field trips! There are a TON online right now.

4. TO BE MORE PRESENT WITH YOUR KIDS

I hate when I catch myself saying “Hold on” to the kids for the third time. When I get into a project, I get really distracted by it. Setting a summer schedule that includes independent play and group play helps me so much because it mixes up time together and time on our own. The kids know I will give them my undivided attention at certain times in the day.

Remember to put away your phone and focus on the kids during this time. Make it a priority to be fully present.

Stock up at a dollar store for some seasonal crafts and coloring books. Fill a basket and set it out on the table for craft and color time.

My kids enjoy time to build and do puzzles, and I make this an independent activity. Each kid can choose a puzzle or something to build (Legos, building blocks, Lincoln Logs, attribute blocks, etc.) Set these in an area where they can access them on their own. I make a rule that they can do as many as they want, but they have to clean up one before getting out another.

Their favorite part of the day is when I sit down and play a game with them. They love Sorry, Go Fish and Clue.

5. TO LEARN TO REST

Now that my kids are older, they don’t nap, but they know every day they will be asked to go to their room and close the door for rest time. They are only allowed to go to the bathroom and play in their room for one hour.

Don’t forget to rest too! With my health issues, I need to take breaks throughout the day. This is my time to lay down and sleep or watch some TV so that I don’t aggravate my body by overdoing it. Health problems or not, this is a great way to recharge or set reset for bad days.

6. TO GET OUTSIDE MORE

Remember staying out all day during your childhood? What did you do? Try to recreate some of these memories with your kids. Not only is getting outside fun, but it’s beneficial to everyone’s health.

Use your summer schedule to go outside on scavenger hunts, listen for the ice cream truck, have picnics at the table in the backyard, look for bugs, play sports, and go on bike rides. This year we planted a garden so I fill up a small baby pool with water and they use their watering cans to water all my plants.

7. TO PRACTICE SCHOOL SKILLS

The easiest way to help your kids not fall too far behind so they can jump right back into learning is to read all summer long. As a former teacher, I could tell which kids had their parents work with them over the summer.

My mom instilled a love of reading in us at an early age because she would take us to the library each week and we each had our own library cards! Library reading programs are amazing and have earned us toys, ice cream and even a family pass to the water park! Make sure to check in with your local library.

8. TO HELP YOUR MARRIAGE

Invest in your marriage. Make it top priority! The easiest way is to set a bedtime for your kids–yes, even in the summer! The kids aren’t used to going to bed? That’s fine!

Have them get on pjs and brush teeth at the same time each night. Allow them to play as long as their door is shut. Giving them the freedom to play in their room (and telling them lights go off if they come out except for bathroom breaks) has been a GAME CHANGER.

PRINT YOUR OWN KID SCHEDULE

I’ve included a blank Kid Schedule to help you organize your thoughts. Here’s a sample schedule to help you brainstorm:

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Check out these posts for more summertime fun:

Here’s to a better summer!

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