This Homeschool Graduation Ceremony Guide will help you plan the perfect celebration for your homeschool graduate!
Your homeschool high school student has worked hard to complete all the requirements and earn their diploma. Now it’s time to celebrate! Your student’s homeschool graduation should be just as unique as their individualized learning experience has been. This guide will provide you with a solid framework that you can personalize to meet your needs and resources.
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Before we get started, if you have any questions about homeschool graduation requirements, be sure to check out our Homeschool Graduation Requirements Guide.
Ideally, you will have researched these questions long before you start planning a homeschool graduation ceremony, but it never hurts to review to make sure you have everything covered. Now, back to the fun part!
Can my homeschooler have a graduating class?
Yes! There are several ways to connect with other homeschool families to combine forces and have a really meaningful graduation for a group of homeschool graduates. Here are some ideas:
- Homeschool Co ops – Many homeschool co ops have their own graduation ceremonies. Often, the students in these groups have attended classes together for many years and have truly formed a “class” dynamic.
- Church Groups – For our kids, their closest community is our church. We are blessed to have a good group of homeschooling families there, and the students often want to graduate together. It was a natural choice for us.
- Homeschooling Friends from Extra-Curricular Activities – A lot of homeschool families form a tremendous community through extra-curricular activities, such as band, choir, sports, 4-H, etc. These students spend a great deal of time together, so it makes sense for them to graduate together, too!
- Community Homeschool Groups – If your family is not involved in one of the other types of groups mentioned, you can check with homeschool groups in your community to see if any of them do a graduation ceremony that is open to all area homeschool students. You can often find this information in Facebook homeschooling groups that are specific to your geographic region.
When should you start planning a homeschool graduation ceremony?
This depends on your situation and how elaborate of a celebration you want to have, but I recommend you start planning a few of the more major decisions at least by the beginning of your student’s senior year.
We actually decided on a date about a year prior, because we wanted to reserve the date with our venue (our church) and make sure families had plenty of notice to ask off of work and make travel plans, if needed. We also had the graduates decide on a color for their graduation caps and gowns early in the fall, so that we could get those in to have senior pictures done.
Other than the date and color of the caps and gowns, most of the other decision-making really started in the spring semester. The graduates and their moms would meet about once a month to plan and make sure we were all moving forward on the same page. We had a small group of only three students, so we were able to do this on a pretty informal basis. If your group is large, there may need to be more formal organization with committees, group leaders, etc.
How can your homeschool graduation ceremony be personalized?
Almost all aspects of a homeschool graduation ceremony can be personalized. Of course, the more graduates participating, the more compromises will need to be made. Some established homeschool co ops and other groups may have guidelines in place that are the same for every graduating class. If you’re doing it on your own, you can choose everything. Here are some of the details you might want to personalize:
As long as you’re staying within your state’s requirements, you can choose any date that works well for you and your group. You may want to hold your celebration a week or two before the traditional graduation season starts to avoid attendance conflicts.
Graduation Cap and Gown Color
There are a ton of choices available, and they are really affordable! Let graduates choose the one they like best and build your color scheme around it!
This can just be a color scheme, or you can plan around a movie theme, quote, etc. Our homeschool graduates had songs from the movies Star Wars, The Greatest Showman, and Up, but we just went with a color scheme for decorations and reception.
Graduation announcements can be as fancy as you want them to be. The traditional expensive announcements are available for homeschoolers, but more and more people (homeschool or not) are opting for the less expensive and more personalized photo announcements these days.
You can order these from your favorite photo printing shop, or you can design and print them at home. Since I use HP Instant Ink and have plenty of ink on hand at all times, I chose this option. It did take a lot of time, but I saved quite a bit of money by doing it myself. I ordered the photo paper and envelopes from Amazon.
2021 Update: This year, I chose Canva to design my second son’s graduation invitations and had them printed through their printing service. They turned out so professional-looking, and they were very affordable! If you don’t have time to print your own or just don’t want to mess with it, I definitely recommend Canva!
As I mentioned earlier, we held graduation at our church. You can choose any place that is meaningful to you to which you have access. You could even do a really nice homeschool graduation ceremony in your backyard. Although, here in Oklahoma, we always try to have a backup plan for outdoor activities in the springtime (and make sure we’re never far from a storm shelter)!
Allow the graduates to decide who gets to give the speeches at their graduation! Ours chose their youth pastor to give the graduate charge. He was also the MC for the evening.
Only one of our graduating seniors was willing to give the main speech for the class, so he got the job! The other two provided the invocation and the benediction.
If you have a graphic designer who can help you out, that would be awesome! Since we didn’t, I designed our graduation program myself. I’ve done several things like this before, so it wasn’t too hard. I just used Microsoft Publisher. Our program included the order of the ceremony, a little about each graduate, and some photos that my daughter took of the graduating class.
The hard part came when it was time to print. I got some presentation-quality paper and was ready with my HP Instant Ink. For some reason, though, they wouldn’t all print where the part that should be folded was in the exact center of the paper. This created a huge headache, and I wasn’t completely happy with the finished product. I’m definitely going to use Canva for our next graduation program!
Songs and Slideshows
Homeschool graduation ceremonies can be very personal. Since there are usually fewer graduates, it can be an intimate time to really celebrate each individual. Graduates can choose meaningful songs to incorporate, and you can show photo slideshows of each graduate. Who doesn’t love to see those baby photos?! One of our graduates prepared our slideshow.
Parents can take a moment to share how proud they are of their child’s accomplishments. I’ve seen this done live, and it can be very touching. However, it can be a very emotional moment, and mama is likely to lose her composure!
A good alternative is to video the parents’ thoughts ahead of time and play them during the ceremony. This also helps with time management, so you don’t have to worry about a proud dad losing track of time and going longer than the speaker!
We opted to play the audio of each set of parents while the photo slideshow of each graduate was playing. Then, the parents presented the homeschool diploma. It worked out really well!
Showcase the Graduates
This may be more feasible if your graduating class is small, but featuring your graduates’ talents can really make your graduation memorable! Among our three graduates, we had a dancer, a videographer, and two musicians/singers. To showcase their talent, the videographer made a film of the dancer (she didn’t want to dance at graduation). The film was played on the big screen while the two musicians sang and played their chosen song. It was such a special moment!
Receptions can be as elaborate or simple as you’d like them to be. There are lots of neat ideas available on Pinterest. We chose to just go with the simple and always popular cupcakes and punch.
2021 Update: We’ll be doing pre-packaged treats this year for Covid-19 precautions.
We also set up a photo wall, complete with graduation-themed props, which was a big hit!
Each graduate had their own table in the foyer of the church (where we also held the reception) with photos, awards, and other mementos were displayed.
We had matching centerpieces (a creative homeschool mom made these for us), but everything else was personalized to each graduate.
We also provided a basket for cards and notecards/pens, so people could leave notes of congratulations or encouragement for the future!
How should you handle expenses for your homeschool graduation ceremony?
This really depends on your situation. Homeschool co ops or community homeschool groups probably already have a system set up to manage graduation expenses. Our small, informal group just assigned different jobs to each family, trying to estimate costs as closely as possible to keep it even.
We all kept up with how much we spent and added it together at the end. Then, we split it three ways and reimbursed anyone who had spent more than the others. Again, with a bigger group, you may have to have a more formal method in place to share expenses.
A couple more ideas for your homeschool graduates…
Custom Class Rings
Did you know that your homeschool student can still have a customized class ring? We have purchased class rings for both of our boys when they were juniors in high school from Joy Jewelers. I’m not an affiliate for them, but, we have been very pleased with the quality and selection of rings.
Homeschool Graduation Photoshoot
I just want to share one more fun idea that you might want to incorporate. We did a special photoshoot with our homeschool graduating class. There were four seniors at our church on this particular year-three were graduating from homeschool and one from public school.
The four families met at a lighthouse on a local lake, where my daughter (13 years old at the time and a budding photographer) did a photoshoot with the graduates. Then, we all went out to dinner together.
We got some great photos to use for our homeschool graduation ceremony, as well as our church’s Graduation Sunday event. It was such a fun and memorable night! We plan to continue the tradition when our other kids graduate.
A homeschool graduation ceremony can be a very personally meaningful event and provides so much opportunity to celebrate your homeschool graduate! Your homeschool journey has been unique, so finish it out with a one-of-a-kind commencement!