A Simple Homeschool Graduation Ceremony

Planning a homeschool graduation is a lot like planning a wedding. There are a million different things you could do. And thousands of different things people have done. But there really isn't much you have to do. In fact, there is no law that says you have to have a graduation ceremony at all.

Basically, homeschool graduation has a lot in common with the homeschool journey itself - lots of freedom to craft it uniquely as you and your graduate prefer!

We've now graduated two students from our homeschool. I'll share what works for us and you can take what you like and make it your own!

Solo Graduation

Between our state homeschool organization, our local homeschool organization, and our homeschool co-op, there are at least three different group graduation ceremonies our students could have chosen to participate in. But they both opted to graduate "at Nannie and Pop-Pop's house". My parents have a large great room that is perfect for this occasion, but it could just as easily have worked at the church fellowship hall.


We had short, 30-minute ceremonies followed by an open house each time.

Both ceremonies took place on a Saturday afternoon. The day before, the kids and I went over to my parents' house to help them clean and set up. My son (our first graduate in 2023) didn't have any specific preferences for decorations, so we just grabbed some basic "2023 Graduate" decor at the Dollar Store.

My daughter (our second graduate in 2024) is all about the mushroom aesthetic, so we put together some simple mushroom-themed decor for the room.

We set up chairs in rows facing the fireplace for the ceremony and had folding tables ready to put up for the open house.

The Ceremony

Neither of our children wanted to "process" into the ceremony. So we put an ornate chair beside the fireplace for them to be seated during the ceremony.

My son opted for the traditional cap and gown; my daughter was not interested in that option.

My husband opened each ceremony by thanking those who have been a big part of our children's lives and education and my parents for hosting the gathering. He then honored our graduates with some words about their achievements and some encouragement for the future.

Next, each of the siblings took a turn sharing thoughts for the graduate. We have eight children. Some of them are comfortable speaking in front of a group, some of them are not, and some of them weren't sure! So I gave them each a framework and they shared their thoughts with me. When it was each child's turn he or she could decide in the moment if they wanted to share their own thoughts or stand with me while I shared for them. I asked them to think of three things to share ...

  • Something they admire about their sister or brother
  • A fond memory they have of time with that sister or brother
  • Some advice for our graduate for the future

These little speeches were probably my favorite part of each ceremony!

The Diploma

After the children shared their thoughts, we presented our graduate with a diploma. My husband presented our son's diploma to him and I presented our daughter's, followed by a few words of congratulations.

We got the diplomas from Homeschool Diplomas. We opted for embossed covers and some personalization. The total, including shipping, was just under $70 at the time we purchased each of these.

We let each graduate choose the diploma cover. Luke chose this hunter green and Emma opted for basic black.

At the end of the ceremony, we had someone pray for our graduate. My grandfather prayed for Luke and my father prayed for Emma.

Open House

After the ceremony, we had friends ready to help us move around some chairs and replace some with folding tables for an open house.

For the first graduation, we scheduled a longer open house. But we realized that this didn't work as well with our graduation set-up. With most open houses, people come and go throughout the whole time frame. But since we had a scheduled ceremony at the beginning, almost everyone came at the start and the gathering was nearly empty for the last hour or so.

The second time around, we planned for a half-hour ceremony and a two-hour open house and that was just about perfect. We definitely spent the largest part of our budget on food for the open house. This was partly because we had a large crowd and ordered a lot of prepared goods and platters.

I need to take a moment to brag on this cake a family member made for Emma's graduation as a gift. It was amazing!

Pictures

Instead of putting together physical photos of our graduates, I collected pictures of them each from birth through graduation in a Google Photos album. My Dad used Chromecast on his laptop and the photos automatically ran on slideshow mode on the TV during the open house.

Since we got the kids dressed up for the graduations, we also used the opportunity to get some photos as a family and various groupings of extended family as well.

It's hard to believe we now have two high school graduates. We couldn't be more proud of them!

Have you planned a homeschool graduation? What are some of your favorite graduation traditions or tips?

Hello!

Lynna Sutherland is a homeschool mother of eight always-homeschooled kiddos ranging in age from high school to kindergarten. She loves to encourage parents in the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling and offer creative ways to manage a large family and a multi-age homeschool!

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