Are you graduating one of your children from your homeschool soon? It’s one of the most rewarding accomplishments for both your teen and you as the homeschool parent! Congrats! We’ve compiled the ultimate guide to homeschool graduation planning here to help you deal with some of the overwhelm that comes with a big celebration like this. This guide will give you all the information you need to create a memorable and personalized ceremony for your graduate.
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Here are the main things you need to know about homeschool graduation planning – whether you’re having a formal ceremony or just a simple party, these tips will keep you on track.
Preparing for Homeschool Graduation
Believe it or not, preparing for homeschool graduation starts years before your child’s senior year! Here’s why.
What are the homeschool graduation requirements in my state?
Before you begin homeschooling your teen in his senior year, you’ll want to be sure you know what the homeschool graduation requirements are in your state. As a homeschool evaluator in Pennsylvania, I try to remind families to create a high school plan before their child is even in ninth grade. That way, you’re sure to fulfill all the graduation requirements in plenty of time and not have any surprises at the last minute.
Assuming you’ve met all those graduation requirements, now it’s time to plan for the fun part – the homeschool graduation ceremony and/or party!
How do I plan a homeschool graduation ceremony?
As you plan your homeschool graduation festivities, you’ll want to create a simple graduation timeline with deadlines, due dates, and other important notes.
Here are items to include on that graduation timeline:
- required paperwork turned into your state for graduation (check HSLDA.org for details regarding the home education law where you live)
- make a list of graduation supplies and when you need to purchase
- don’t forget to include caps and gowns, diplomas, and graduation announcements
Set a date for your graduation ceremony or party and book the venue. Touch base with any teachers, mentors, or speakers that you would like to participate in your ceremony. We’ll cover more details about the graduation ceremony below.
Where can I find homeschool graduation announcements?
There are lots of options for purchasing graduation announcements online! Many drug stores that also offer photo printing services allow you to design your announcement on their site and have it printed in the store.
Or you can create your own graduation announcements with a free program like Canva, then download the design and have it printed locally.
How do I create a diploma for my homeschooled graduate?
Some states offer “official” diplomas to homeschool graduates. My state of Pennsylvania awards Department of Education diplomas to graduates of a home education program, so our kids get the very same diploma as their public school peers.
But if your state doesn’t have this option, you can design one on a program like Canva and have it printed out locally or check out the diploma options in the HSLDA store.
What is the best way to create homeschool graduation invitations?
It’s very easy to create homeschool graduation invitations on Canva. You can use one of their templates or start from scratch. the most important pieces of information to include on a homeschool graduation invitation are the graduate’s name, date of graduation, name of the high school from which they’re graduating (homeschool!) and the location of the event.
What should I consider when choosing a location for my child’s homeschool graduation ceremony?
Before you choose a location, first decide if your student will have his own solo graduation ceremony as a single homeschooled student, or would you rather join with other local homeschoolers for a combined ceremony? Sometimes a state homeschooling organization will even hold a large event for hundreds of graduates.
So, if you’re joining with other people, you’ll want to consider the location that makes the most sense for the amount of guests and if your venue will accommodate a ceremony and a party, if desired.
The easiest place to hold a homeschool graduation ceremony is a local church or community building, like a fire hall.
If you’re having a party in lieu of a formal ceremony, there’s nothing wrong with just hosting guests in your back yard or a local park with a pavilion.
Personalizing Your Homeschool Graduation Ceremony
As homeschoolers, we know that each kid is unique! So their homeschool graduation ceremony should be personalized to fit them as well. When you’re graduating from a traditional school, you don’t have much say in how the ceremony proceeds or what is included. But when you’re a homeschool graduate, you have all the flexibility you’d ever want.
Remember, we’ve never schooled inside the box, so your graduation ceremony doesn’t need to fit inside a “what’s expected” box either. That’s why in our family, I asked each graduate if they wanted a formal ceremony with all the pomp and circumstance or just a simple drop-in party. They chose the latter, which was fine by me.
What should be included in a homeschool graduation ceremony?
What you decide to include in your homeschool graduation ceremony is totally up to you and your graduate. Some basic parts normally include an introduction/welcome, presentation of the graduate, conferring of the diploma, speech by the graduate, and remarks by parents or mentors of the graduate.
Of course, none of these parts are necessarily essential (although you do want to give your teen their diploma!), but they don’t necessarily have to speak and you can customize what is shared around your teen and their interests and achievements. Remember that the goal is to celebrate graduating from high school! So however you want to do that is up to you.
If you have multiple friends from your local homeschool co-op having a ceremony together, you can ask if any of them would like to speak. Parents or mentors can share thoughts about the graduates and give them advice and wisdom for the future.
You might want to create a slideshow of highlights through the years of homeschooling. Or you could show this in the background at a graduation party if you don’t have a ceremony.
Can my homeschooled child participate in a traditional graduation ceremony?
Yes, they might be able to! Check with your local homeschool co-op if you have one, or other local homeschool families to see if your graduates would enjoy a combined ceremony.
You can expand your search on a wider scale if needed and check with your state homeschool organization. Many times the state organizations will host a graduation ceremony. Just be sure to meet the deadlines for signing up for this if you’re interested.
How can I personalize my homeschool graduation ceremony?
There are many ways you can personalize your homeschool graduation ceremony. Here are my favorite ideas.
Host a homeschool showcase
Hosting a homeschool showcase is such an awesome idea that I saw on the Sonlight blog. While they describe it as an event which you can do with all your kids (you can!), it would make a special capstone presentation and event for a homeschool graduate. You could host a homeschool showcase instead of a traditional ceremony, or you could include the showcase during the graduation party following the ceremony.
Combine your ceremony with a music or speech recital
When my kids were still little and we had just started homeschooling, we were friends with a family who was homeschooling four teenagers. They were in our church, in our homeschool co-op, and I taught the oldest girls piano lessons. So when it came time for them to graduate their oldest daughter from their homeschool, they had a unique twist for her graduation ceremony. They combined it with a piano recital of sorts.
I thought it was a great way to personalize the graduation ceremony. The parents spoke, the graduate may have given a speech, I think they asked me go give some remarks to the graduate as a mentor, and then she performed some piano solos, and received her diploma.
So if your child who is graduating is an accomplished musician, this is a great way to fill out a typical ceremony that only has one graduate. Maybe your graduate isn’t a musician, but he is gifted in speech. Well, you could use the same concept and combine a graduation ceremony with a speech recital or performance.
How can I make my child’s homeschool graduation ceremony special?
You can make the homeschool graduation ceremony special by customizing as much as you can. Consider some of the ideas we already mentioned that highlight your graduate’s gifts, accomplishments, and talents.
You could also choose a theme for the ceremony and align everything with that theme, including the speeches, parts of the ceremony, and the decor.
Here are some homeschool graduation theme ideas:
- “A World of Opportunities” – emphasizing the many paths and possibilities open to graduates as they embark on their next adventure.
- “The Sky’s the Limit” – encouraging graduates to dream big and reach for the stars.
- “The Road Less Traveled” – highlighting the unique journey that homeschool graduates have taken to reach this milestone.
- “Celebrating the Journey” – reflecting on the hard work and growth that graduates have experienced during their homeschooling years.
- “Building a Bright Future” – emphasizing the potential for graduates to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.
- “Chasing Excellence” – celebrating the dedication and commitment that graduates have demonstrated throughout their homeschooling journey.
- “The Next Chapter” – marking this milestone as a new beginning and a chance to write the next chapter of graduates’ lives.
How do I involve family and friends in my child’s homeschool graduation?
It’s important to recognize the contributions of the graduate’s family and friends. We know that homeschooling is a huge responsibility, and many of us are fortunate to have communities of friends and supporters to cheer us on.
Do you want to recognize grandparents in the ceremony? How about coaches, co-op teachers, music teachers, or other adult mentors in your child’s life? Maybe they can make some remarks or choose one mentor to give a challenge to the graduate.
What are some options other than a formal homeschool graduation ceremony?
What if you don’t want a formal or traditional homeschool graduation ceremony? You don’t have to have one!! There are other fun ideas that may work better for you and your graduate.
Here are some options to consider:
- Skip the party and splurge on a special trip or gift.
- Host a homeschool showcase
- Backyard barbecue
- Organize a Photo shoot. Hire a professional photographer and organize a photo shoot with the graduate, their family, and friends. This can be a fun and memorable way to capture the moment.
Creating a Homeschool Graduation Speech
A homeschool graduation speech is important because it provides an opportunity for the graduate to reflect on their academic journey and share their experiences and accomplishments with their family and friends. The speech can be a moment of personal growth and reflection for the graduate, and it can also be an inspiration to others who are considering homeschooling or who are currently going through the same journey.
Additionally, a homeschool graduation speech allows the graduate to express gratitude to their parents, teachers, and mentors who have supported them throughout their homeschooling experience. It’s a chance to thank those who have been instrumental in the graduate’s success and to acknowledge the hard work and dedication it took to achieve this milestone.
Finally, a homeschool graduation speech is an opportunity for the graduate to share their future plans and aspirations with those in attendance. It can be a moment of excitement and anticipation for what lies ahead, and it can also be an opportunity for the graduate to inspire others with their goals and aspirations.
How do I write a homeschool graduation speech?
Here are some steps to follow when writing a homeschool graduation speech:
- Reflect on your homeschool journey: Think about the ups and downs of your homeschooling experience. Consider what you have learned, how you have grown, and what challenges you have overcome. Jot down some notes or make a list of key moments or experiences that you want to include in your speech.
- Determine the tone and theme of your speech: Decide what message you want to convey to your audience. Is your speech going to be lighthearted and humorous, or more serious and reflective? Do you want to focus on your personal journey, or do you want to offer advice and inspiration to others?
- Create an outline: Start by organizing your thoughts into an outline. Divide your speech into sections, such as an introduction, personal anecdotes, thank-yous, and concluding remarks. Use bullet points or short phrases to summarize what you want to say in each section.
- Write the first draft: Once you have an outline, start writing your speech. Don’t worry about getting everything perfect at first. Focus on getting your ideas down on paper and refining them later. Try to write in your own voice, using language that feels natural and authentic.
- Edit and revise: Once you have a draft, read it over and make edits and revisions as necessary. Cut out anything that feels unnecessary or redundant, and make sure your speech flows smoothly from one section to the next. Consider the length of your speech and make adjustments if needed.
- Practice and rehearse: Practice delivering your speech out loud, either alone or in front of someone you trust. This will help you get comfortable with the content and delivery of your speech. Time yourself to make sure your speech fits within the allotted time, and make adjustments as necessary.
- Finalize your speech: After you have rehearsed and made any final revisions, finalize your speech. Print out a copy or have it easily accessible on a device to refer to during the ceremony.
Remember, your homeschool graduation speech is a chance to share your story and inspire others. Embrace the opportunity to reflect on your academic journey and celebrate your accomplishments.
Planning a Homeschool Graduation Party
You may be having just a homeschool graduation party or you might want the party immediately after the graduation ceremony. Either way, the main purpose of the party is to be able to mingle with guests and allow your guests to talk to the graduate.
What are some ideas for homeschool graduation decorations?
If you choose a theme for your graduation ceremony, you can use that theme for decoration inspiration. So, if you go with the theme mentioned above – “The Next Chapter” – you could go all out decorating with books and everything book related! Or choose your graduate’s favorite book and use that as a jumping off point for decoration ideas.
To find the most inexpensive decor ideas that feature the graduation year, shop right after New Year’s Day when the new year decor is on clearance! It will have the correct year on it and you can stock up a few months ahead of time for cheap.
Once the food is out and some plastic table cloths are on the tables, you could decorate with pictures of the graduate or a bouquet of helium balloons always makes a statement.
You can certainly just include simple finger foods or snacks and punch. Or just go with a dessert theme – a sheet cake or simple cupcakes are fine!
If you want some easy menu ideas to feed a crowd, consider these:
- Tacos: Set up a taco bar with seasoned meat, tortillas, cheese, lettuce, salsa, and other toppings so guests can build their own tacos.
- Spaghetti and meatballs: Serve a big pot of spaghetti with meatballs, garlic bread, and a green salad on the side.
- BBQ pulled pork sandwiches: Slow cook a large pork shoulder, shred it, and serve on buns with BBQ sauce, coleslaw, and pickles.
- Baked potato bar: Set up a baked potato bar with baked potatoes, butter, sour cream, bacon bits, cheese, chives, and other toppings.
- Finger foods: Offer a variety of easy-to-eat finger foods such as mini sandwiches, chicken wings, veggie trays, fruit skewers, cheese and crackers, and deviled eggs.
- Slider bar: Set up a slider bar with mini burgers, pulled pork, or chicken sandwiches. Offer a variety of toppings such as cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and different types of sauces.
- Pasta salad: Make a large pasta salad with veggies, cheese, and a simple dressing. This can be made ahead of time and served cold.
- Grilled kebabs: Grill up some chicken, beef, or vegetable kebabs with a variety of marinades and spices.
- Charcuterie board: Create a beautiful charcuterie board with cured meats, cheeses, crackers, and fruit.
- Dessert bar: Set up a dessert bar with a variety of sweet treats such as cupcakes, cookies, and brownies.
- Pizza: Order a few pizzas or make your own homemade pizzas with a variety of toppings.
- Nacho bar: Layer tortilla chips with seasoned meat, cheese, beans, salsa, and other toppings. Bake until the cheese is melted and serve with guacamole and sour cream.
Homeschool Graduation Gift Ideas
If you’re purchasing a gift for the homeschool graduate, you’ll want to choose a gift that reflects your child’s interests and personality or find a gift that will help them in the next stage of life, whether that’s going to college, entering the military, or entering the job market.
What are some unique homeschool graduation gift ideas?
Here are some unique homeschool graduate gift ideas:
- Personalized college survival kit: Put together a collection of items that will be useful to the graduate as they start college, such as a planner, water bottle, reusable grocery bag, dorm room decor, and more. Make it extra special by including items personalized with their name or initials.
- Customized diploma frame: Display the graduate’s diploma in a customized frame that includes their name, graduation year, and any other important details. You could also include a photo of the graduate or a special message.
- Engraved keepsake box: Give the graduate a special place to store their graduation memories with an engraved keepsake box. Include their name, graduation year, and a special message.
- Professional headshot session: Help the graduate prepare for their future by gifting them a professional headshot session. This will come in handy when they start applying for jobs or creating their professional profile.
- Personalized book or journal: Give the graduate a personalized book or journal that includes their name, graduation year, and a special message. You could choose a book that is meaningful to them or a journal to record their future goals and aspirations.
- Gift card for educational experiences: Consider giving the graduate a gift card for an educational experience such as a museum, historical site, or cultural event. This will give them the opportunity to continue learning and exploring the world around them.
3 Lessons I’ve Learned Since Graduating 3 of My Kids (Podcast episode 213)
On episode 213 of the Homeschool with Moxie Podcast, I’m spilling the beans on the 3 lessons I’ve learned since graduating 3 of my kids. These are the things I’ve learned through this process and this is what I would tell my younger self.
Final Thoughts on Homeschool Graduation Planning
Whatever you decide to do for your homeschool graduate, make it uniquely yours. That is – don’t feel the pressure to have a formal graduation ceremony if you don’t want to. You want to enjoy the day, celebrate your graduate, and celebrate all the hard work that brought you to this moment. Do what fits your family the best.
A homeschool graduation is a big milestone and you should be proud of yourself!
Do you have your own homeschool graduation planning tips and ideas? Please share them in the comments below!