Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tips for Planning a Homeschool Graduation


Even though it is only December, it is time to start thinking about and planning your homeschool senior's graduation.

There are many options available to you, so the first step is to decide what type of graduation ceremony you and your student desire.

So far, with my five homeschool graduates, I have organized and planned three different types of graduation celebrations.

tips for planning a senior recital


When my oldest daughter graduated there were several other homeschool seniors in the area, so in December of her senior year I sent out an email to gauge interest in a group graduation ceremony. This was the first homeschool group graduation in our area, therefore we had no precedence to follow.

We had a general interest meeting in December where we discussed these questions:
What date works best for most people?
Where can we hold the graduation? Is there a fee?
Do we want to host a reception?
Do we want a keynote speaker?

We also assigned people to research these questions:
Where can we buy cap/gown/tassel?
What about a diploma?
Do we want to order invitations as a group?
What will it cost to print a program and what goes in the program?
What else might we want to include?

After the initial meeting we met monthly to continue planning and share findings.

This is how we did our group graduation. Maybe it will give you some ideas if you are planning or thinking about planning a group graduation.

Location: We were able to use a local church free of charge as one of our graduates was the pastor's daughter.

Keynote speaker: The pastor of the church was our keynote speaker and did an amazing job.

Date: We chose a Saturday afternoon in May. Get your date on the calendar early (January).

Program: We put together a bi-fold program that included the ceremony as well as a picture of each graduate with a short biography.

Cap/Gown/Tassel: We found this website to be a great resource. They also have invitations. Even though we did not order invitations as a group, I did order my invitations here and the company was very helpful.

Ceremony: Graduates entered to the traditional Pomp and Circumstance. After the welcome, each student was introduced with a personal slide show followed by the parent(s) saying a few words to/about the student and giving a diploma (if desired).

Reception: We had a cake/punch/finger food reception. Food was provided by the parents of the graduates and costs were shared equally. Each graduate had a table with awards, accomplishments, photos, etc. This table also made a good spot for guests to leave gifts for the graduate.

Senior Activities: The students chose to get together monthly for a fun activity. The last senior activity was a family cookout. One of the students also designed and printed a t-shirt for the seniors.

I found that the key to planning a group homeschool graduation is

You must remember that you are working with individuals who are used to doing things their way and not conforming to group think. Some elements of the graduation can and should be individualized:

Cap and gown color - we allowed students to wear any color

Tassel Color - students chose their own tassel color

Graduate presentation - families were given a time limit (5 minutes) to present their graduate and say what they wanted.

The absence of uniformity in the colors will reflect what this graduation actually is: individual 'schools' sharing a graduation ceremony, not a ceremony of one school.



When it came time for my second student to graduate there was not a group of seniors in the area. She chose to have a personal graduation.

All the same decisions had to be made as for the group graduation, but without the necessity of working around other schedules.

We had her graduation outside at our home.
I made all the refreshments.
Good friends from church provided music.
The youth pastor's wife, my daughter's mentor, gave an encouraging talk
My daughter gave a short talk and my husband and I said a few words of encouragement.

It was a much more personalized graduation celebration than the group graduation. The focus was completely on the one graduate. It was also a lovely ceremony.


Even though my third student had many homeschool friends graduating the year he graduated, he chose to have his senior piano recital be his graduation ceremony instead of participating in the group graduation.

Once again, all the same questions had to be addressed with the addition of:
Does the location have a good piano?

A senior recital will usually be in collaboration with the teacher. The teacher will make sure the student is ready for the recital part of the graduation. The parent will plan the graduation aspect of the ceremony.

For my son's senior recital graduation ceremony, the invitations indicated it was a piano recital and graduation ceremony. After the recital portion, we had a short ceremony and 'charge' to the student, followed by a reception.

My fourth graduate chose to participate in the group graduation, so once again we (the moms) planned a graduation ceremony that reflected the individuality of the students.

My fifth graduate had a senior piano recital and participated in the group graduation.

I, being the resourceful mom that I am, did find a way to include both the recital and the graduation in one invitation/announcement.

It looked like this:

Photos are from Quin Studio

So, if you have a homeschool senior and are planning a graduation ceremony, it is time to start thinking about what you and your student want to plan. Dates need to be chosen, pictures need to be taken, announcements need to be ordered, and that is just the beginning. Start your planning early and it will alleviate any last minute planning stress!

Also, don't forget the tissues!

My sweet friend, Jane, gave all the moms a small package of tissues at our group graduation. They came in very handy! When you realize your baby is all grown up, you get a little teary-eyed.

A Word About Diplomas  
To me, a diploma is basically a piece of paper that says , “You graduated.” My children didn't really care if they received that piece of paper to 'prove' what they already knew.

You can purchase fancy diplomas or print your own. I did neither. I rolled up a piece of paper, tied it with a ribbon and presented it at the group graduations.

I graduated high school in 1980. No one has ever, I mean never ever, asked to see my high school diploma. Has anyone asked to see yours?
A high school transcript, yes; a diploma, no. That is why I don't purchase a fancy diploma.

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Andrea Pierce said...

Wow! This is awesome! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful experience! I didn’t know you can do something like this on a homeschoolers’ graduation. Well, I didn’t even know homeschooled students also hold graduation ceremonies. I know they graduate or finish something, but a celebration?
Thanks! I’m hoping to hear more from you soon!

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