The ritual of the End of School Year Transition
May 18, 2021

This year, I’ve experienced what it means to be a parent and what it means to be an educator during a pandemic that has often put caregivers and schools at odds with one another. I’ve cried on the phone with parents whose families have struggled with quarantine. I’ve watched teachers vulnerably put on a brave face each day at school, navigating technology that I myself have never used and experiencing scrutiny that I’ve never experienced… while in a pandemic, while political tensions have risen, while reading headlines daily about rising racial terrorism, while…..  

It’s been a trying year for empaths. So from this point of view, I offer my perspective on how we can collaboratively navigate transitions with the young people we care for. 


Life is defined by transitions. We change jobs, make new friends, begin new journeys. Children are approaching what I would argue is a milestone transition in childhood: the end of the school year. The end of the school year is an exciting time for children. Everyone is ready for a break or a chance to shake up the routine a little bit after a year together. There are usually some tears, notes being written, and t-shirts being signed, as children leave their school environment and go on summer vacation.

This year has carried a lot of weight, particularly for us adults. We may be having a difficult time acknowledging and celebrating a year that has challenged many of us tremendously. We may just want to “put this all behind us.” But we must acknowledge this milestone transition because children deserve it.  Children will carry with them the good memories from this imperfect year, and educators, parents, and caregivers can help facilitate a healthy transition through intentional rituals.


Rituals are important and take form in many ways. I might define a ritual as any action or act done with intention for a particular occasion. A ritual may be a religious holiday or a tradition that you uphold annually.. Sometimes rituals are small, like Thursday Pizza Night. Some rituals serve to acknowledge the beginning and an end of a journey.

Rituals are proactive. They provide children with consistency and stability during states of transition or uncertainty. End of school year rituals acknowledge the experience children have had during the school year and provide them with space for reflection. When you work rituals into your family practice, you will strengthen your connection with your child, allowing them to explore the feelings that arise for them as their life journey unfolds. 

Whether a learner will be back at Phoenix Modern in seven weeks or starting at a new school; transitioning from any school year, especially a COVID one, marks an important transition that must be supported intentionally. 

Providing closure to this year through ritual is important for children to process and to grow. 

At Phoenix Modern, the ritual of Exhibition provides learners the opportunity to present their growth and learning to others in a formalized manner. Exhibition topics and styles may vary, but the Exhibition ritual always serves as a conduit for the transition from one session (or year) to the next.

Suggested rituals for Parents and Caregivers:

  1. Allow children to organize their keepsakes from the year into a small book or binder (or keepsake box). Have them explain their keepsakes to you.
  2. Select your favorite photos from SeeSaw and make a photo book of the year together.
  3. Print a few photos of your children from this year and display them at home.
  4. Challenge your child to write a story over the summer based on the topic, “My experience of the 2020-2021 school year.”
  5. Attend your child’s Exhibition with a curious mind. Ask them questions about their experience from this year and how they have grown. 
  6. Ask your child if there is a friend who they’d like to keep in touch with this year. Encourage them to exchange contact information and send one another postcards or letters this summer.
  7. Create a chart of 3’s: Three happy memories from this year, three wishes for next school year, and three things your child is looking forward to doing this summer. Keep it somewhere and review it at the end of the summer!
  8. Set a summer goal. School is out but the opportunity to learn and grow is always. Have your child pick a skill they want to master (cooking, swimming, reading a certain number of books). Document their progress with pictures and notes so that they can share their journey when they return to school in August!

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Phoenix Modern is a free, public charter school in Phoenix, Arizona