by Jessica Frierson, April 2022
Graduation season is approaching. As homeschoolers, we can begin and end our school year whenever it works best for our family, but many families choose to keep with the traditional school schedule. Whatever time of year, the culmination of your child’s high school studies is a reason to celebrate!
Along with the flexibility to tailor our educational approach to our child’s individual needs, we can also plan a celebration that fits their personality. For example, some grads want a formal ceremony while others prefer something intimate. For homeschool parents, our hard work and dedication to reach this milestone also deserve recognition.
What are some ways to honor your graduate?
Many homeschool support groups or co-ops host a graduation ceremony for their members. When my oldest son graduated, he was in a class of a dozen peers with whom he had spent the past few years going on field trips, competing at the science fair, and playing flag football at the park. A member of our group who was a professional photographer took pictures. One of the fathers gave a short talk, and each graduate read a letter of gratitude to their parents prior to receiving their diploma.
For an even more formal experience, NCHE hosts a commencement program at the conclusion of the annual Thrive! Conference held in Winston-Salem at the end of May. It is a memorable affair, complete with cap and gown, “Pomp and Circumstance” played for the entrance, and diplomas handed out by each graduate’s parents. For more information, visit our Graduate Central webpage. There, you can order diplomas and extra copies of the special graduation edition of the GREENHOUSE magazine and find a template for printing your graduation announcements.
You may find that your son or daughter would prefer to stay out of the limelight. You can honor their achievement with a private observance in your home, backyard, a local park, or your church. With your graduate’s input, keep your guest list to the size they will feel comfortable with hosting. You could ask friends and family to share memories or words of encouragement before mom or dad bestow the coveted diploma. A backyard barbeque, taco bar, or potluck dinner will keep the event festive yet relaxed.
Respecting and embracing the uniqueness of our children may mean that our tribute to the end of their high school years is even more personal. When one of my sons completed his coursework, I could barely get him to don a cap and gown long enough for me to snap a quick photo. For some, the occasion is anticlimactic; they are done and ready to move on to the next thing with no need or desire to make a fuss over it. A nice dinner at home or a trip to their favorite restaurant may be the appropriate setting to present their diploma to them.
If your son or daughter flees the spotlight faster than a lightning bolt, you may be left feeling a bit deflated. After all, a homeschool parent has invested considerable time and effort into reaching this point. Although they did the bookwork, you are the one who selected, purchased, planned, taught, and graded it. You have an accomplishment to celebrate as well. Watching your child walk the aisle with their tasseled mortarboard atop their head is a crowning moment you may have long-awaited. But keep this in mind: you likely embarked on this homeschool journey with a plan to create an individualized education plan that suited your child’s specific strengths, weaknesses, interests, and goals. You can complete the journey in a manner that is customized for them as well.
And as you likely had to do at times during their school days, when it comes to acknowledging their graduation, you may have to push your child a bit to have them do things they don’t want to do. Sometimes they need us to make them do something that they wouldn’t choose for themselves. Although they may not agree with us at the time, they will appreciate it later.
Whatever method you choose to herald this momentous occasion, be sure that you do it in a manner that celebrates the uniqueness of your child. The same principles of flexibility, creativity, and customization that applied to your homeschool days apply to the culmination of those days. Whether you go with a large-scale ceremony or a quiet family dinner at a special restaurant, let your graduate know that you are proud of them…and give yourself a pat on the back as well. You both deserve it!
Jessica Frierson is a homeschool graduate and has been homeschooling her ten children since 2000. She serves as the secretary for NCHE, writes for GREENHOUSE, and is the lead blogger for the NCHE Blog.