Pomp and Circumstance

Marking your child’s graduation from homeschool high school

When my dubious friends found out I planned to homeschool my children, the first question they asked was, “What about socialization?” Years later, when I disclosed that my family would continue homeschooling through high school, the questions changed to “What about the prom?” and “What about a graduation ceremony?”

Homeschoolers have many options for either event. Let’s leave the prom for another time! This article will explore what others have done to commemorate their child’s graduation from homeschool.

At this age, a primary consideration should be the student’s desires. Some graduates are uncomfortable with a lot of attention, and will be perfectly satisfied to forego any festivities at all. (I was one of those.) You know your child best. Be sure he or she isn’t likely to regret this decision later. If your child has a history of avoiding the limelight, then the desire to not participate in this type of celebration is probably a part of his or her personality that should be accepted as normal.

If you know your child to be generally social, however, you might want to gently suggest several celebratory alternatives. Your student might be reluctant only because he’s picturing a full-blown, traditional graduation ceremony with himself as the sole graduate . . . an uncomfortable prospect for almost anyone! They should be aware that there are many ways to mark a high school graduation.

  • Family Activity: It would be a shame to let this momentous occasion pass without SOME sort of recognition. Take the family out to dinner or prepare a special dinner at home, give your son or daughter a gift (money is usually appreciated), have the siblings make or sign a card, and take some pictures of the parents presenting a diploma. These things can be put into a scrapbook and will provide pleasant memories at a later date.
  • Church Recognition: Even if your church hasn’t done so in the past, you may find members receptive to a short recognition ceremony held during the church service. This usually involves congratulating the student in front of the church body and prayer by the congregation’s spiritual leader. Often, a special refreshment is served following the church service.
  • Private Party: Some families simply have a graduation party, similar to a birthday party. Friends and relatives are invited to celebrate the accomplishment . . . and most will bring gifts! Refreshments are served, guests congratulate the graduate informally, and everyone has a nice visit. Don’t forget to take pictures!
  • Small Ceremony: If you have homeschooling friends or belong to a homeschool co-op, you may be able to join ranks with two or three additional graduates and have a more traditional graduation ceremony. In this type of ceremony, it isn’t unusual for the participants to wear caps and gowns, and for someone to give a speech. Since actually presenting the diplomas takes very little time with a small group, those attending are sometimes treated to videos of each graduate’s life. Often, each student or their parents prepares a table of keepsakes to be enjoyed at guests’ leisure, during a casual refreshment time following the ceremony.
  • Local Graduation Event: Many states and local areas hold annual homeschool graduation ceremonies. The size of these events, as well as requirements to participate, vary greatly. The events themselves usually resemble a traditional graduation. An Internet search will help determine if such an event is available in your area.
  • Less Traditional Memory Makers: Potluck? Picnic? Trip to the zoo? This opportunity only occurs once in a lifetime, so use your imagination to come up with a celebration unique to your child!



Kelly Stone is a homeschooling mom of six children, ages 14 through 29. The eldest three children have graduated from the family's homeschool high school. Kelly has been blessed to homeschool her youngest who has special needs. Kelly lives in Oregon, where she is a freelance writer and online marketing representative.

April 13, 2013


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