At the end of every school year, my mom would make a date with my brother and me for a night out to celebrate. She was an elementary school teacher, so we were all celebrating having finished up another year. We would usually go out to dinner, and then to a movie (for several years running, we saw “Shaft” and its sequels—I guess I am dating myself). At dinner we would raise our glasses of soda and toast to the finishing the school year, and to summer. Regardless of how well the year went, we would celebrate and enjoy its end. I so looked forward to those celebrations!
I was reminded of this recently when reading a post from the blog of noted University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, about the value of making ending moments count. In this post, which you can find here, she talks about the “peak-end rule” which holds that the final moments of experiences, along with the peak moments (good or bad) are often the most remembered and preferred. She suggests that we consider what we can do to make the end of the school year count for our kids, so that they can feel good about and remember this positive school-related experience.
While I didn’t fully incorporate the dinner and movie celebration into my children’s lives, I did make sure that we did a bit of year end celebrating. We would go to the latest movie (usually a Pixar film—not as cool as “Shaft”, but entertaining nonetheless), and we would always make a point of toasting the end of the school year. And the tradition continues: just a few weeks ago, when my youngest returned home from college, we toasted his successful completion of another year.
Annually celebrating the school year’s end as a family is a relatively simple way to make good and lasting memories. It can be a family outing, or an agreement to watch a movie together at home, or a simple toast around a family dinner. If you have a end-of-school tradition, please share it!