“Oh no . . . oh no . . . please, oh no! I can‘t do this, no . . . I have to do this. I can . . . ahhhhhhhhhh!!!”
Those shrieking thoughts filled my mind as I skydived for the first time. “So,” you may reasonably ask, “why in the world did you get on that plane?” Because I love my daughter and skydiving is her passion, of course I joined in. And, if you’re a homeschooling parent, you know what I mean. You step, crawl, walk, run, and free-fall out of your comfort zone because you love your kids!
To be honest, those screeching thoughts felt quite familiar. They resembled my internal commotion when I embraced homeschooling: fear, excitement, audacity, and trepidation because I was not certain of a safe landing. I mean, where was the parachute guaranteeing a soft arrival into the drop-zone of high school graduation instead of getting stuck in some tree? Yet, taking the first leap for both skydiving and homeschooling created momentum and a gravitational pull carrying me on an adventure of a lifetime! I’ll never regret either choice.
So then, like skydiving, the homeschool final landing is important! After all, a sweet landing can make everyone forget you were screaming like a banshee when you first jumped out! No matter what emotion characterized your first leap into homeschooling, go ahead and graduate your child with celebration, congratulations, and commemoration. It will be a trophy in your head for the rest of your life!
I’ve graduated three of our five children from homeschooling and on to college. (Three trophies in my head!) The freedom to customize our child’s life experiences and learning was also reflected in the graduation ceremony! We decided to tailor each celebration to the uniqueness and interests of each child.
Our first child wanted to enjoy a traditional graduation ceremony, and his best friends were walking together in a cap and gown occasion held for homeschoolers at a local church. However, the timing created a unique twist to his story. He was a junior and his friends were seniors. So, he asked if he could graduate a year early. Since he was my first child, of course I initially emphatically and authoritatively declared, “No.”
Thankfully he then asked a profound follow-up question, “Why not?” Hmmm . . . well, after looking at his transcripts, I had no good answer. He had already completed most of the requirements for attendance to a rigorous college. So why not enable him to spend his “senior” year taking college courses locally until he was 18 and ready to go off to university? So, we did it. He graduated a year early and had the celebration of his dreams with his best friends.
Our second child is an adventurer and did not want a traditional cap and gown affair. She even tried to convince us that no celebration was needed. But don’t let anybody talk you into that! Finishing high school is the moment to land with intentionality and create a beautiful bookend to the homeschooling story! We sought to create something meaningful for her, so we invited loved ones to watch and cheer as she and her dad went skydiving for the first time. It was the beginning of a new passion that she pursues to this day as a coach. For all of us, it was memorable and symbolic of her homeschool journey for sure!
Our third child wanted something intimate, personal, relational, manly, and adventurous. We crafted our own private ceremony with just our son and the son of close family friends. They grew up together, and this closeness allowed us to speak into their lives and enabled them to express their gratitude. (Which is every mother’s love language!) Afterwards, a much larger group of family and friends came for a party!
For the manly part, we created a video montage by asking the men who had impacted his life to video themselves speaking into his life. We watched with tears and laughter and then he and his dad took a motorcycle riding certification course together. (Yes, I know. An 18-year-old man-child and a motorcycle…don’t judge! It was perfect for him, and I love encouraging our kids to have shared memories with their dad!)
The “sky” is the limit on ideas, but remember one more thing . . . yourself. As a homeschool mom, you’ve likely embraced the majority of the responsibility for your child’s education. You’ve poured yourself into this process and your child along the way. Don’t miss this time to provide your child a chance to give back through words of gratitude or other meaningful expression or maybe even a shared celebratory experience or trip together! Allow others to honor you, and let this affair be one you enjoy too!
So, as you prepare to “land” your child’s homeschool journey safely and with style, here are some final tips.
Tips for a great graduation:
1. Make the celebration meaningful—don’t skip it.
2. Tailor it to both you and your child.
3. Plan ahead to accommodate for unique circumstances.
4. Plan ahead so you can invite loved ones and make arrangements.
5. Order an official diploma and present it to your graduate.
6. Brainstorm with your friends and include them in the celebration.
7. Memorialize the moment:
a. Enable your child to write and/or speak gratitude.
b. Speak wisdom and appreciation into your child’s life.
c. Create a memory book, photo album, or letters for lasting commemoration.
d. Share a meaningful life quote or Bible verse.
Most of all, ENJOY IT. Relish it. Wallow in it. You persevered, overcame, pressed on, and courageously jumped! Now your “ahhhhhhhh” can reflect joy, accomplishment, celebration, and relief!
Note: Heather is the Program Manager for HSLDA’s Educational Consultants
Photo Credit: iStock.