Believe it or not, planning the homeschool graduation ceremony was the hardest part of graduating our daughter.
That is both because actually graduating her was quite easy, AND because planning the ceremony had more decisions to make.
Actually… the *hardest* part was doing both of those at the same time, which is the major drawback to graduating in December. But I digress.
The Texas homeschool graduation ceremony, like everything else, has no requirements. In fact, you don’t even have to have a ceremony at all. (And some don’t!) We personally know homeschoolers who have opted for a formal ceremony, a reception only, a relaxed ceremony, no ceremony at all, and every option in between.
With all these open-ended options, how do you decide what to do?
How to Plan a Homeschool Graduation Ceremony
Relax and take a breath. Planning a ceremony is no big deal; not really. It’s simply a matter of making a list of steps and working through them one by one.
Step 1: Decide what you want to accomplish.
For me, my goals were easy.
- Talk about Catie’s accomplishments and goals.
- Present her diploma.
- Pray blessings over her, thanking God for Catie and all that He’s done in her life, asking Him to guide and protect her in this new chapter of life.
Decide what your goals for the ceremony are, and that will help you decide what kind of ceremony you need to have.
Step 2: Consider what the child wants.
What your homeschool student wants to do is just as important as what you want!
Catie knew what she wanted pretty quickly, too:
- To celebrate with as many friends and family as possible.
- Some food and drinks.
- To NOT have to speak in front of everyone.
If your child doesn’t want a lot of attention and you plan a large, formal ceremony and reception, what you want and your child wants will be at complete odds with each other. We took my goals and combined them with Catie’s wants and started pulling together a plan.
Step 3: Plan your homeschool graduation event accordingly.
After considering what we both wanted, (my husband didn’t really have much opinion on most of it,) we knew that we needed a small relaxed ceremony, with all of our friends and family, with food and drinks that we could easily prepare for a lot of people.
I asked our small church if we could use the building for this, since it was the right size, the ceremony could be held in the sanctuary, the food prepared in the kitchen, and the reception held in the fellowship area.
So we browsed Pinterest for buffet table ideas, made a huge grocery list, and threw out a plea on Facebook to borrow wooden cutting boards and bowls for our smorgasbord. Since the church would be decorated for Christmas (added bonus of graduating in December,) I didn’t need much in the way of decorations, either, and I found some good deals on Amazon for black, white, and gold decorations, paper fans, and gold napkins. We found a bunch of coordinating paper straws and food picks with the New Year’s supplies in the Target dollar section. I also bought some MDF “wooden” name initials which we spray-painted gold to decorate the table, along with a couple of chalkboard signs and burlap ribbon from Wal-Mart.
It was all coming together in my head quite nicely!
Step 4: Don’t forget to have a plan for the ceremony.
I mean, you can always wing the ceremony if you want to, but I figured it was better to have a plan. Our plan was simple: welcome everyone, James and I take turns saying a little something about Catie, pray over her, give her the diploma, take a picture, the end.
Simple enough right?
However, with all the business and running around in the last few days leading up to the ceremony, I didn’t make time to sit down and think about what I was going to say. This led to insomnia the night before, being able to think of nothing else but what I would say for hours on end!
Don’t be like Amber. Plan what you are going to say in advance so things run smoothly on graduation day.
Step 5: Take pics, record it, etc
Do you know what else I did? I forgot the camera.
I totally did.
Thankfully, one of my good friends helping me that day had brought hers. She volunteered to take pictures for us, and I’m so glad that she did. We also planned to record the ceremony for some family members who couldn’t make it. We set that up and arranged for a friend to hit record and stop for us.
Learn from my example:
- When you’re making your to-do lists, don’t forget to charge the battery, bring the camera, tripod, and whatever else you are going to need.
- Ask people to help you take pictures, too. Even if we had brought our own camera, I would have been way to busy to take very many pictures on my own.
Step 6: Have fun!
Last, but not least, have fun!! The graduation is a celebration. It’s NO SMALL THING. You and your child have been working on this for a really long time, and you made it!
My husband is known for livening things up and making them fun. He surprised everyone (including me) by printing and presenting my daughter with series of “best of” awards. Catie was awarded the “Best dressed,” “Class Clown,” “Most Likely to Succeed” and “Most Popular” student in her class. Everyone had a good time laughing over that.
Even if you don’t want to print funny “best of” awards, do have fun with it and enjoy it. You all earned it!
For a reminder of how and where to print a diploma and other necessary details, check out the first post: “How to Graduate Your Homeschool Child (in Texas,) Part One.”