6 graduation ideas for your homeschooler
High school graduation — it’s a time-honored rite of passage and a culmination of your child’s, well, childhood. But a homeschool graduation?
For homeschooled teens, a commencement ceremony’s not an institutional requirement. How can you reward your child’s hard work and plan a celebration worthy of the milestone? We’ve graduated four of our six children from homeschool and have found the following ideas have helped us plan each homeschool graduation.
- Set the date and time. At this point in the year, your child’s friends in traditional school environments have their graduation dates set in stone. You’ve got the flexibility to work around those commitments and set an off-peak time and date for your homeschool graduation — a Thursday evening, say, or Sunday brunch. When inviting everyone, take travel time into consideration. If Great-Aunt Lou is driving from four hours away, don’t plan to start the ceremony at 10am.
- Choose a location. We have attended homeschool graduations in homes, at parks, at places of worship. When our second homeschooled son graduated, we rented a local community center for a lovely ceremony and picnic with volleyball following. Remember to take facility-rental rules into account. Some places will not allow use of the kitchen, so you’ll have to bring everything pre-cooked or use a caterer. Others set parameters about arriving early to decorate, cleaning and locking the doors. When our son graduated, I thought we’d have no problem being out of the community center by the stipulated time of 9pm. But with everyone in the swing of visiting, wrapping up proved harder than anticipated.
- Decide on an order of the day. Most homeschool graduations include some type of music, speeches and the presentation of the diploma. At my daughter’s graduation, after a welcome and opening prayer, our oldest son led the audience in singing. Following the ceremony, her friends played selections on the harp and violin. Having your child speak — to express thanks to you or other key adults in his life and to share her goals for the future — is appropriate. You or another significant friend or relative may also want to speak, sharing good wishes or special memories. A family of faith may want to have a time of prayer. Alternatively, you can open the floor for others to share memories or words of encouragement.
- Order a diploma. Check the certificate aisle of your local office supply store. Web-based resources include Diplomastore.com/prod04.htm, Homeschooldiploma.com and Hslda.org/highschool/diploma.asp. Or print your own on your home computer at Donnayoung.org/forms/planners/diploma.htm or Freeprintablecertificates.net/category/diploma. Some companies provide only a diploma template you must fill in and frame; others provide a nice binder and print your child’s name on, too. You might also consider ordering a cap and gown or letting your graduate design her own one-of-a-kind class ring.
- Plan the menu. Cater a dinner from your child’s favorite restaurant or ask guests to bring a dish pot luck–style.
- Think about extras like . . .
- An autograph book for guests
- A display of academic or athletic trophies or significant school projects
- Playing “Who knows the graduate best?” The person who answers the most correct answers about your child wins.
- A slide show of childhood photos.
Keeping things simple works best. Enjoy this day as a celebration of your child’s hard work and a time to look hopefully toward his future.
Carol J. Alexander is a freelance writer and author of Homestead Cooking with Carol.