Staying up late and sleeping in.
The smell of chlorine in my hair.
Oatmeal cream pies.
Weeks spent at my Grandmother’s.

Maybe your summer memories are different than mine, but I bet we can all agree that summertime is certainly a memorable season.

For our children, it’s a breather from the relentless (and often rigorous!) schedule that school brings. For us, it’s a juggling act of childcare, managing boredom, and trying to squeeze in a few moments in the sun for ourselves.

You have a lot going on, so we wanted to provide you with a few ideas on how to start your summer on a high note!

Last Day of School Ideas


For your preschooler, the last day of school may not actually be the last day of school. Maybe they’re in Pre-K. Maybe they’re in a Mother’s Morning Out program. Or maybe they stay home with you. But you can still mark the beginning of summer in a fun way!

Create a “Countdown to Summer” paper chain by linking together slivers of colored construction paper. Hang a paper sunshine high on a wall, and let the rainbow-colored chain hand down from it. Every day that goes by, have your preschooler remove a piece of the chain. Talk about the colors of the papers, the shape of the sun, and what your plans are for the summer. Count the remaining links before bed every night.

Elementary School

This age is fun because they’re still young enough to really excited about things—without being “too cool” for it!

Talk to some of the other parents in your neighborhood, and organize an end-of-the-year water war. One fun idea is to be waiting with water balloons when your child gets off the bus. Make sure the children exit the bus and are in a safe location, then fire away. Be sure to have extra water balloons for them, too. A “Parents versus Kids” water war makes it extra fun.

Middle School

Middle school students are funny. They love their friends, can’t drive, and get bored easily. For them, summer might come with mixed emotions. (As do most things when you’re in middle school.)

Help set the tone for an exciting break by having a basket of goodies ready for them when they get home from school. You can even make a banner for them outside of your house (depending on how embarrassed you want to make them), or decorate their bedroom door with streamers and balloons.

The contents of the basket can all correspond to fun things they can do in the summer (and can be found at a Discount/Dollar store):

  • Sunscreen (for the pool/lake/beach)
  • Popcorn (for a movie night)
  • Bubbles (no one is ever too old for bubbles)
  • Their favorite candy (for late night snacking)
  • Marshmallows (for a bonfire roasting)
  • Book/magazine (to read on a long drive somewhere fun)
  • Flashlight (for camping)

You get the idea.

High School

Your high school student will most definitely appreciate summer break—especially after they can drive. They’ll probably have jobs, plans with friends, internships, summer reading, etc. Before you lose them for the summer, create a moment on the last day of school.

Teenagers crave one thing: independence. On the last day of school, give your child a new freedom or responsibility. Extend their curfew. Increase their allowance. Give them a cell phone. Grant that one desire they’ve been begging you for (within reason). Extending trust to your high school student is a good way to pave the road for your future relationship with them. They won’t always live in your home forever. Easing up on the control is healthy for them—and for you, too.

PS – You can do all the other suggestions with your high schooler, too. I bet they’ll like the summer countdown chain more than you might think!

Why don’t you add to the list? How do you celebrate the last day of school with your kids?