I can still remember when I went to public school as a kid. About twice per year my parents had to go in and meet with my teacher for a parent-teacher conference. I got to go along. It was kinda nice because not only was it a day off from school, but I got to listen to my teacher tell my mom how spectacularly wonderful I was.
When we first started homeschooling, I thought this was a part of public school my kids would miss out on and regret. We therefore started the tradition of teacher (me)- principal (my hubby)- student conferences. Its a great opportunity to point out to our progeny what wonderful progress they've made through the year, praise each and every accomplishment, go over grades, and offer some kind words of encouragement and areas for growth. Our kids love it.
Now, over the years, this little tradition has morphed somewhat. I used to do these after each 9 weeks of school were completed. Now we do it maybe twice per year. The end of school conference is perhaps the most anticipated. We conduct our conference with a special night out to eat - a rare treat for us when the restaurant doesn't have a play area or require you to bus your own paper wrappers. Then, while we wait for our food, we go over grades that we assigned for each subject. We print out certificates for various awards such as "Improvement in handwriting" and "Excellence in Science" or "Completion of Curriculum." The awards, of course, need to have some merit to them. But, just seeing how they beam with pride with each award is enough for me to think hard for something to praise them for. And finally, we give them prizes / presents for completing another year of school. The prizes used to be small things we got from a dollar store. This year both our students will get a new book and a scooter we bought used from a friend.
Aside from presents and dinner out, our end of year meeting is also an opportunity for the kids to offer their input on how the year went. What worked well? What didn't work well? What was your favorite activity? Why? Is there anything special you would like to study next year?
I learned long ago not to base my own performance as their teacher on what the kids have to say at this time. Many times there is complaining involved. Normally I don't allow complaining, especially when it concerns school. But, our end of year meeting is a special event. So, I prepare myself to let the kids have their say during our conference, and I listen responding with "I'll keep that in mind," or something else as vague.
Then I order a large chocolate dessert.
Here's to ending the year on a high note!
If you would like to print off certificates for your own students, here are a couple of places you can do that:
Customizable Awards and Certificates at Teacher Vision