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Wondering how to host a homeschool graduation ceremony? These tips are just what you need to get started!
After 8 years of homeschooling, we finally did it! We graduated our oldest daughter, Natali.
Honestly, she’s my easiest kid but homeschooling is still hard! We had a rough go-round with anxiety in her early teen years but she has come out of her shell SO MUCH in the last year! Before, I had to force her to do anything social. Now, she goes to homeschool dances, stays the night with friends and is constantly on the go. She’s blooming and growing up right before our eyes.
Since there’s no right or wrong way to graduate a homeschooler, I wanted to share exactly what we did to make her graduation special. Maybe you don’t have a high schooler yet but this can serve as inspiration, just the same!
How to Host a Homeschool Graduation Ceremony
Check out these tips on how we simplified hosting a homeschool graduation ceremony.
Find Fellow Seniors
Honestly, the hardest part of the whole graduation can be finding other folks who want to graduate with you! We joined a super awesome group last year that has hundreds of members, all within about an hour of each other. Since I knew there wouldn’t be many local seniors, we turned there. They put out a post, asking for any interested seniors and we ended up with 13 kids. (We started with a few more but they decided not to participate after all.)
The kids started a group text and got to know each other really quickly! It’s so nice having older kids, so you don’t have to do all the legwork yourself.
Our seniors decided to get together once a month. We all got together, with our planners, and hashed out the details. We talked about bonfires, trips to the local square, skateparks, dinners together, graduation cap decorating party, Senior skip day, anything and everything. They even hosted a homeschool dance together! After we planned a lot of the events, we found the kids started to hang out together “just because.”
I think it’s important to get the kids together as often as possible. It was super meaningful that my daughter was friends with literally all the kids she graduated with!
We hosted a mom’s meeting, where we all chipped in and gave input on what we wanted out of the graduation ceremony itself. I literally had the BEST team of moms, all willing to pitch in and make the graduation a success. We worked hard together and became new friends along the way.
Some things we planned:
- Location: We chose a local church that many of the teens attend and asked the youth leader to be the emcee. His wife ran the sound booth. We took up a donation for their time.
- Cap and gown: We went with simple black matte cap and gowns but you can buy nearly anything you want on Amazon.
- Time of ceremony: We opted for 6:00 on a Thursday because the church was available that day and we’re homeschoolers so we’re all pretty flexible. 😉
- Snacks: We opted for a cookie tray from Sam’s, fresh fruit and veggies, cans of pop and bottles of water. We wanted to keep clean up as simple as possible and didn’t want to mess with cups or cake.
- Senior tables: Each senior got to decorate a table, with photos, mementos or whatever they chose. These were a HUGE hit with the guests! Some of the kids got super creative!
- Programs: We had 75 programs printed at a local print shop. We waited until the last minute but were still able to get them done for about $1.50 each! And, they were gorgeous!!!
- Slideshow: One of the moms put together a slideshow of each kid, to be shown as their name was called. We each chose 25ish photos, from birth to current day. It was awesome seeing each kid’s journey and really gave the ceremony a personal feel.
- Photographer: We hired a local homeschool dad to take photos of the kids. He was super helpful, taking headshots, photos of them receiving the diplomas, as well as candids throughout the night. Best of all, he only charged $10 per kid!!!
- Diplomas: Since many of the parents weren’t planning on ordering an actual diploma, we opted to hand the kids scrolls of paper instead. One of the moms made these up and tied them with a ribbon. I ordered Natali’s diploma from HSLDA for about $50 but another good choice is HomeschoolDiploma.com.
Make the Night Special
We wanted graduation night to be super special, something they’d remember for the rest of their lives. Being homeschooled, kids spend enough time at home! I didn’t want them going home and just going to bed after the ceremony so we decided to set up a camping trip. (This is scary but if there’s ever a time to realize your kid is a grown-up, it’s graduation night! We did send an older brother to make sure they didn’t get too rowdy.)
The day of graduation, we went to the campground and set up 2 tents: one for boys and one for girls. I took the coolers of food, our Camp Chef grill and everything they’d need for their overnight stay. The kids each brought their own drinks, blankets and snacks. I wanted to make sure they could just come and have fun right after graduation and not worry about setting up camp.
They had so much fun, staying up all night, talking the night away. They star-gazed, talked about the future and just had a good ol’ time.
It was a ton of extra work, during an already stressful time, but I’m so glad we did it!
Have a Party
Okay, okay. I’ll be the first to admit. I suck at making special occasions feel special. We celebrate so many silly days and enjoy life so much on the daily that I rarely put out the effort for special occasions. But, as exhausted as I was from planning graduation, I still wanted to make sure she had a graduation party so everyone else could celebrate her.
We had a simple get-together in our backyard and invited all of our family and friends. We served chicken fajitas, carnitas, chips and salsa, guacamole and cheese dip. I skipped the cake and bought another cookie tray from Sam’s. (Those things are DELICIOUS! I think I have a new addiction.) 😉
It was a great time of visiting and catching up with lots of folks we hadn’t seen in a while. I’m glad I took the time to throw together the party, even though it was the last thing I wanted to do. I know it made Natali feel special!
These seniors have big dreams, y’all. When they started planning a senior trip, we didn’t think they were serious but they’ve planned an entire trip to Florida! They convinced their families to go and are going to be spending all week lounging on the beaches of Destin! (We’re skipping out since we’re going to Florida in just a few weeks but Natali is going with some of our friends.) I can only imagine the memories they’ll make this week, while I’m home recovering from last week. 😉