Planning a Homeschool Graduation

Homeschool Graduation Ceremony  Homeschool Survival

Congratulations! You have brought your child through the ranks and he’s on the verge of graduating. Just the other day you were sitting side by side, sounding out c-a-t and counting little plastic bears together. Here she is ready to receive her high school diploma! Now what? Is a graduation ceremony required? How do I plan one? What if she doesn’t want a ceremony? Will he regret it if he doesn’t have an official photo wearing that gown and mortar board?

These are all great questions. And the wonderful thing is, just like homeschooling in general, there is no right or wrong way to go about it. You have the freedom to do what suits your family best. The homeschooling laws vary a bit from state to state but once your child has met the requirements, you, the instructor/principal/administrator of your homeschool, can decide how and when to give that diploma.

Many families have the opportunity to participate in graduation activities and ceremony with their local homeschool support group. These often include the cap and gown, presentation of diploma, display of achievements, speakers, the whole sha-bang. But what if you are not a part of a larger support group, or there are no other graduates this year? What if your child does not want to participate? What options do you have?Graduation Diploma Homeschool Survival

Here are some out-of-the-box ideas for a graduation celebration. Our family brainstormed this list when our oldest graduated. Much to Mom’s disappointment, no one else in my family is into the ‘pomp and circumstance’ and prefers things low-key and informal. My son and husband both would have been happy with a pat on the back and a “job well done!’ My request was to mark the day in a special way – I wanted a celebration of some type. These are some of the results from the list we created.

  • Backyard BBQ – invite friends and family to share graduates favorite foods, with outside activities like volleyball and baseball. Parents & graduate share a few words and present diploma. This is the option all four of our graduates have chosen so far.

Graduation Baseball  Homeschool Survival

  • Recital or demonstration showcasing graduate’s talents and/or accomplishments
  • Open Mike Roast and Toast – guests arrive for refreshments and presentation of diploma then invite guests to share stories and memories from the life of the graduate.
  • Pool Party!
  • A Family Dream Vacation – Forgo the traditional graduation party and take a trip together
  • Mark this milestone by helping graduate accomplish a lifelong goal – climb the highest mountain, swim the deepest ocean, trace his genealogy, go on an archeological dig . . .
  • Create a video interviewing your graduate asking her to share her favorite memories, highlights and struggles from her schooling years. Ask about goals and dreams and where she’d like to be in five years, ten years.

Graduation Homeschool Survival

Up to this point, none of our children have worn a cap and gown when graduating out of our homeschool. They were happy to gather the important people in their lives, choose the menu, enjoy fellowship together. To my knowledge none of them regret it and have fond memories of the way we chose to celebrate the occasion. As the Administrator, Principal and Teachers in our homeschool, my husband and I did present an official diploma (graduation supplies can be purchased at HSLDA.org) and enjoyed having friends and family witness the big event.

What a blessing it is to have the freedom to custom make our children’s education AND their graduation celebration. Let’s make it unique and memorable!

What graduation plans are you making? Will they be traditional or out-of-the-box and unique?

 

stop and smell the daisies

Linda Sears is a stay-at-home wife, homeschooling mother and doting grandmother. She and her husband have 8 children, a daughter-in-law, 2 sons-in-law and 5 grandchildren, so far. They have been homeschooling for more than 20 years, graduating 4 of their 8 children, with 4 more to go. You’ll find her at Apron Strings & other things where she blogs about life as she knows it, with children in various stages of cutting those apron strings.

Interest-Led Learning for High School

Interest-Led Learning for High School via homeschoolsurvival.com

My son is becoming passionate about filmmaking, from script writing to directing to camera-operating. He started with a flip camera, then added a camcorder and a stop-motion animation program with a webcam.  He’ worked all summer one year cutting grass to save money for a “really nice” camera, and everything on his Christmas list is related to that (boom mic, lights, reflectors.) He now spends most of his free time writing scripts — pages and pages of scripts. Because of his passion for the art of filmmaking, I decided to craft an interest-led learning elective course for him for high school fine arts credit.

Stop Motion Animation

My son has already produced both live-action and stop-motion movies to the delight of all of our family members (grandparents make an especially appreciative audience.) Stopmotion Explosion: Animate Anything and Make Movies- Epic Films for $20 or Less has been a great jumping off point into the live action stuff that he really wants to do.
For part of his literature/language arts and elective studies, I have scoured the internet and other avenues to find resources to fit into our curriculum. It hasn’t been easy to find resources appropriate for teens, but I have managed to put together some things that are working so far.

Free Resources

Educational guides and lesson plans for movies such as Because of Winn Dixie, Hoot, Where the Red Fern Grows, Bridge to Terabithia, Narnia, Holes, City of Ember, and more are available as free downloads from Walden Media. We have used these guides along with the novels and the movies as “going beyond the book” studies.
We also found tons of resources for teachers and students at Oscars.org, including screenwriting, animation, visual effects, cinematography, and more. Although I don’t have any filmmaking experience, I’ve been able to piece together enough resources to help my son pursue his interests.

Film Curriculum

I’ve found some filmmaking books and curriculum as well, such as Filmmaking for Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts and Movies as Literature curriculum from Design-a-Study. These are the base for our coursework, with all the other above-listed resources as supplements to this course.

The Movies as Literature course is an intensive study of movies as short stories. This program is not just about watching movies. Each movie studied includes 25 discussion questions, including topics for compositions and extended activities with either reading assignments, history research, or other movies related to the one being studied. Movies include both classic and modern selections, including ShaneThe Quiet ManRear WindowThe Maltese FalconE.T., The Philadelphia Story, and several more. For Shane, we read the novel before watching the movie, then the topics studied in this lesson included:

  • Character development vs. stereotypes
  • Film techniques
  • Plot development
  • Character motivation
  • Foreshadowing
  • Setting
  • Mood
  • Symbolism
  • Underlying messages about:  what makes a man, what makes a hero, whether or not the end justifies the means, whether ‘A man who lives by the sword, dies by the sword,’ the positive contributions of God-fearing families to settlements in new territories.

The student workbook isn’t required for the program, but I bought it so that I could make notes in my book and my son could have his own book to follow along in as we discuss the material.  Although this is a high school level course, a child strong in language arts could easily use this for eighth grade.

Enthusiasm for Learning

Above all, I want my kids to be excited about learning. If I can incorporate their interests into our curriculum, a huge plus to homeschooling, they are more enthusiastic and motivated. I love it when they ask me to “do school.”

I’d love to hear what you do for interest-led electives in your homeschool!

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram

 

Embracing the Teen Years

homeschool

First steps, first words, first birthday . . .

We celebrate these milestones and look forward to them from the day our children are born. The teen years seem so far away, but they arrive before we know it.

Many homeschool parents look upon the teen years with dread. They worry about how they’ll teach more difficult subjects, how hard it will be to keep track of grades, and [gulp] Driver’s Ed. Unfortunately, some parents believe that they cannot even continue to homeschool the teen years: What if my teen is weird and unsocialized for life?

I’d like to reassure you that:

1. You can teach more difficult subjects. When my oldest was in kindergarten, I began having the inklings of doubt for his high school years. Algebra and upper level science scared me to death. A funny thing happened, though. As my son grew older, he also grew to become more independent. I don’t have to do the algebra and science; HE does. I am here to help him, and I coach him and facilitate lessons, but the real work is up to him. And, thankfully, there are plenty of wonderful homeschool materials out there that make these subjects not only doable, but interesting and even fun.

Some math curriculum is computer based, with a virtual teacher to lead the student through the lessons (DIVE CDs for Saxon and Teaching Textbooks). Dr. Wile’s Apologia science texts are written to the student, so I really only have to help by gathering materials for experiments and discussing the study guide questions with my son. The reading is up to him.

Spanish is pretty much self-taught using a computer based program as well. And, supplementary CDs are benefitting the entire family as we listen to them in the car and all learn new vocabulary. (Rosetta Stone and Spanish in 10 Minutes a Day).

History is similarly written to the student, so he does the reading, and I follow the prompts in the teacher’s guide for discussions (Sonlight, TruthQuest, Beautiful Feet). We’ve learned that there are tons of “helps” out there if we need them, such as supplementary notebooking materials, study aids, and tutors. (Donna Young’s free science printables, Harmony Arts free notebooking pages, and Khan Academy’s free tutorials).

However, even though my son is working more independently, I am finding that I am actually enjoying learning many things alongside him. I didn’t enjoy some subjects very much when I was in school, but I am discovering that homeschooling is producing a love for learning in me as well as in my kids. Don’t forget to sit down with your teen and learn alongside him! It will benefit you both.

2. You can keep track of grades. The only thing I do differently for middle and high school grading is to switch over to a system for letter grades instead of the Satisfactory/Needs Improvement/Unsatisfactory elementary grading system. There are many free resources to help you figure out how to do this, but don’t over think it too much. Establish a grading scale in the beginning (see your state’s department of education website for requirements in your state), and use the numerical grade on the progress report and report card. Include the letter grade alongside it if you’d like, but the numerical grade is what you will use to calculate GPA and class rankings.

3. Driver’s Ed is scary, but inevitable, so you might as well face your fears. When your teen is ready to drive, start out slow – baby steps! It isn’t easy to sit in the passenger seat, and I am still learning to trust my teen. I asked our insurance company to send us free materials for teen drivers. They sent us a booklet with mini-lessons based on driving scenarios and a DVD with tips and safety measures, along with warnings about driver distractions. There is also a pledge my son signed before getting behind the wheel the first time, promising never to text and drive, etc. (Some driving schools even offer discounts to homeschool families.)

4. Teens are weird anyway. They are goofy and gangly and want to stay up all night and sleep all day. Their rooms are disaster zones, and they eat everything in sight. They can be moody, stubborn, and too silent at times.

But, they are also delightful.

You will discover how fun it is to listen to their opinions on things, to get to know them as emerging adults, and to just hang out with them. Their independence gives you more room to trust them with greater responsibilities, which is an enormous help with household tasks, caring for younger siblings, and running errands.

Just remember that they are still children, and they still need your guidance, your time, and your love and affection. They never get to old for these!

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.