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Rachel Watkins offers ideas for family celebrations at the close of a school year we're all happy to see end.

Summer is right around the corner. Outside my windows, the morning sun is arriving earlier and I can see my husband working on getting our pool ready. Meanwhile inside, as longtime homeschoolers, we’re wrapping up the school year with assessment tests and state reviews. I know many others were pressed into learning from home due to the pandemic. As a result, all of us are (probably) happy to see the school year come to end.

Graduation ceremonies are ubiquitous to a school year. Many of us have pictures of our little ones moving onto kindergarten with paper plate caps and brown paper bag gowns. Meanwhile, "Pomp and Circumstance" is a familiar tune to anyone with more than one child. These end-of-year traditions are a welcome sign to everyone that summer has arrived and vacations await. With this in mind, I wanted to encourage you to consider an end-of-year event, including a spiritual dimension, for your family, regardless of where school occurred for your children.




Nothing complex is necessary. Joining around the table or outside fire pit to celebrate the successes, laugh over the mistakes and memorize events helps everyone put the school year to rest.

Looking at photos from the year, re-reading essays or even a dance of joy that it’s over might be a part of the program. I’ve known families who allow for campfire burning of selected homework pages before having s’mores. You know your family best, so be creative and ask your children what they want to do and eat.

parents lifting small child on a beach


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Planning a time of prayer and celebration at the year’s end helps the whole family enter into summer ready to relax and enjoy the rest we have earned. #catholicmom

Most importantly, close out your celebration by giving praise and glory to God who helped all of us get through this unique year. Whether it is a family Rosary or singing a favorite hymn, be sure to give thanks. After all, the school year is finally over! One powerful suggestion my family relies on is an inclusion of the Prayer of Daily Neglects -- with a twist.

This prayer is especially perfect for the month of June with its dedication to the Sacred Heart. Its history has been lost, but its beauty remains profound at it lifts our sins and neglects back to the Lord who is the only one who can forgive and heal us. Often said at night, it speaks of the sins we did, what we have done poorly and what we have neglected that day and our entire lives. Never a replacement of confession, it does help put our day to rest.

The same can be true of a school year. It is easy to find ourselves ending the year with unnecessary guilt and regrets over what we know we did that was sinful, what we know we did poorly and what we neglected all together; and our children do as well. Perfection is impossible but we are all perfectly happy to make ourselves (and perhaps our children) miserable with recriminations over things in our past.


family holding hands in prayer


Wrapping up our school year with the Prayer of Daily Neglects offers us and our children a chance to hand it all over to Jesus who will make right all our wrongs. To quote a portion of the prayer, we are allowing the Sacred Heart of Jesus “to supply for the good I ought to have done, and that I have neglected this (day) SCHOOL YEAR and all my life.” And He is waiting to do it!

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is ready to heal our own hearts from all the neglects of this past difficult school year. And we all have them, don’t we? Planning a time of prayer and celebration at the year’s end helps the whole family enter into summer ready to relax and enjoy the rest we have earned. Of course, we can be better every day. Obviously, this school year could have been better. Taking time to celebrate as a family with prayer puts this year in its proper place; in Christ’s Sacred Heart, whose promises include giving us the graces for our state in life, peace in our heart and comfort in our afflictions; even when it was a rough school year.

Pack away the books with ceremony; remembering Jesus is waiting to "bestow abundant blessings upon all our undertakings."

Copyright 2021 Rachel Watkins
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