What to Give Students at the End of the Year

The end of the school year is chaotic and amazing all at the same time. I’m always incredibly busy finishing projects or grading. End-of-the-year lessons must be extra engaging because everyone is tired.  You’re probably so tired that you aren’t even sure if you want to read this.

The end of the school year is also an amazing time of celebration.  Every student has made some gains during the school year, and each has also found a special place in your heart.  Take time to celebrate your students, show them you care and that you will miss them next year.  

Really how to communicate this will depend on your students’ love language.  Have you heard of the five love languages?   Once I read about the love languages and understood my own a little better some things in life just made more sense.  It helps me communicate my love for others better when I speak their love language.

Here is a short explanation of each and examples of some simple gifts you can give your students based on their love language. Most people have one or two love languages.

  1. Words of Affirmation 

Words of affirmation are when you give meaningful compliments that shows you love and care about them.  On the flip side, this also means criticism carries a lot of weight too. I always have to watch this one because a simple correction can seem really hard to students/people who need words of affirmation.

Here are a few ways you can say goodbye to these students.  Write a note to each student about the school year.  If you give books to your students write them inside the front cover. I love the idea of putting notes in the cover of books because students will have that note for years. (Seriously I still have a book from my first grade teacher – Animals Should Definitely Not Act Like People.)

  1. Acts of Service

Acts of service are things you do that lighten the burden of responsibilities.  When you help someone so they have fewer things they have to do. This is my mother-in-law’s love language so it’s something she always wants to give us. She wants to help with house projects, cooking, and other things.

This is simple to do with your students.  There is so much cleaning in the last few weeks of school.  There is so much time going through binders and folders to recycle papers.  There is so much time spent emptying the gross stuff from lockers. Rather than helping whoever needs it, think about who has or might have this love language.  Try to help those students with these tasks.  It shows them that you care.  The other students can help each other. 

  1. Quality Time

Quality time is when you give focused and undivided attention to someone.  Spending time together without distractions and with eye contact.  

This is a tricky one to show in the classroom, but it’s not impossible.  You could invite these students to have a special lunch with you during the last week of school.  You could ask them to hang back and help you for a few minutes while the rest of the class goes to a special or recess.  You could offer a book club for these students or offer it as a prize for something.  Or for the last week of school, you could have lunch with five students each day.

You may have noticed that I suggest having a couple of students together for this one, and in today’s world, it’s smart to make sure you are not completely alone.  You don’t want this kind gesture to be mistaken. I think that focusing on these students in a small group is a big gesture and shows you care.

  1. Giving Gifts

Giving gifts is when you give a thoughtful gift that is a tangible symbol to show you care.  This is my love language. I used to think that it was shallow that I liked gifts so much. It’s not, it’s just how I feel love.  It truly makes me sad when someone gives me a gift that is not thought out.  It’s disappointing that they couldn’t think of a gift that I would love.  Be sure this is thoughtful.

One gift I loved to give my students on the last day was a freeze pop.  I put a ribbon and a cute tag on it.  I told my students that I got them this gift because when they got home tonight they could put it in the freezer and then they would have a special treat ready for the first full day of summer vacation.  I think this explanation made it thoughtful because I was thinking about them having fun and enjoying something special.

I also love to give my students books, usually from scholastic.  First, I’d look at the bargain books, but my goal was always to pick the perfect book for each student.  It might match their interests, or be perfect to read with a friend.  Whatever book they got I made sure they knew the reason I picked that book specifically for them.

If you’d like to read more about the special books they got at Book Awards you can read that here.

  1. Physical Touch

Physical touch is a non-sexual touch that lets your students know you are there for them.  This can be tricky in schools, so be mindful how you show your students you care about them through this love language.

One teacher I worked with did this in a great way.  On the last day of school as we said goodbye she would ask the kids what they wanted.  Hug, handshake, or high-five.  It’s a great way to respect boundaries, but also show the students who have this love language that you care, are there for them, and they can always come to see you next year and beyond.  

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