3 Simple Homeschool Graduation Ceremony Ideas 2024

Please Share With Your Friends!

Last Updated on April 20, 2024 by Sarah McCubbin

(Links on this page may be affiliate links. If you purchase through a link, we may earn a commission. Dislaimer Here)

Are you planning a homeschool graduation for a student? If you are, first I want to say, Congratulations! Whether you homeschooled for a few years or many, it is a huge accomplishment to graduate from high school. Below are three types of homeschool graduations.

When I decided to homeschool my oldest son who was 5 in 2007, graduation was a distant target that I rarely considered. I mean, if I’m honest, I was drowning in my copy of “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.” He wasn’t that excited about reading and nothing about this felt easy. Fast forward 12 years and I watched friend after friend graduate out their homeschooled students. I had a pile of mental notes on graduating my Senior. But taking it from ideas to completion was another thing entirely.

Most of us default to our past education, at least in part, to help us navigate our own children’s educational experiences. Whether we are helping them learn to read…teaching them to drive or planning graduation, we use our experience for context. But let’s face it, most of us didn’t graduate as homeschooler’s ourselves….so we are wondering what this can look like for our child as we encounter this important milestone!

It Can Be a Challenge to Graduate a Homeschooler

And I’ll be honest, the reason I’m writing this is I’ve known a LOT of homeschoolers….and finishing a homeschool graduate experience can be hard to navigate…and not intuitive for everyone. Nothing is more exciting to me than celebrating big milestones with my friends.

But I started to see a pattern. Some people knew how to finish homeschooling…they knew how to graduate their children and they created an uplifting finale to their school years. But others ended their homeschooling days quietly in a completely anti-climatic finish that did not recognize the student’s hard work…or the effort of the parents. And since I’m nosy, I asked some why they chose that finish.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Some Homeschoolers Do Not Have a Graduation

When I talked to different families I know, some chose not to have a graduation after their senior year. That wouldn’t be my choice but some do go that route.

Some of the reasons included:

  • The high school years were rough and the parents were just done.
  • The students did not want a graduation
  • The parents did not know how to do a graduation.
  • The parents decided to graduate their student mid-year and the timing for a graduation didn’t seem right.

Of course a graduation is not required. All that is required is meeting your state’s requirements for graduation.

But if you are reading this…chances are you DO WANT TO HAVE a graduation!

And since I have graduated out 3 children (2 homeschoolers and a private school),  I want to share with you what I learned to get me to this place.

How Do You Graduate High School if you’re Homeschooled?

When we were close to the high school years, I started really thinking about what was required to graduate. Thankfully we were part of a homeschool support group and one of the moms a few years ahead of me put together a comprehensive presentation on what was required to graduate in Ohio. Of course, I could look it up myself, but there was something so reassuring about having someone explain the path in regular “mom” language.

She broke down the big goal into manageable small steps that made that process really doable. She answered my many questions….or at the very least, helped me identify what questions I should be asking.

As far as the nuts and bolts of graduating and giving a high school diploma, homeschool parents look at our state’s graduation requirements. Over the course of the high school years, we provide the required courses to our teens and check of the boxes needed to graduate. Each state is different though.

Some require that your final transcript be accompanied by documentation from your local schools. Others might require that you be registered with an umbrella school. In any case…the requirements vary a bit from state to state. That is outside the scope of this article.

7 Easy Steps to Write a Transcript

While navigating the legal requirements may seem initially overwhelming, it is the actual graduation ceremony that is unique for homeschoolers to navigate. Unlike graduation from a public or private school, there is not really a graduating class, valedictorian, or commencement speech in your homeschooled class of one. So what does this look like?

3 Types of Homeschool Graduations

For homeschool graduation ceremonies, there are basically 3 types of graduations. And of course, some families may opt to do more than one.

1. Individual Homeschool Graduation Ceremony

Some families will choose to have an individual graduation for their child. This can be a really special way to celebrate and honor your graduate with a group of family and friends. In order to have this kind of graduation, families will pick a date, time, and place to have a party with a ceremony and food. This could be part of a bigger graduation party or it could be a separate smaller event itself.

When thinking about your private graduation, consider including these elements in the ceremony portion:

  • Father’s Speech about the Graduate
  • Mother Speech about Graduate
  • Student Speech
  • Any other important person who wants to say a few words
  • Any other special elements that represent your student…artwork, awards they have received or music they enjoy.
  • A slideshow
  • Awarding of the Homeschool Diploma

Your graduation ceremony for your student doesn’t have to be lengthy but if you have taken the time to gather family and friends, consider putting together a 20 or 30-minute presentation that honors the accomplishments of your student. If that amount of time seems difficult to fill, I would encourage you to use Powerpoint to make a slideshow of your student. It is a great way to fill time and show your student’s accomplishments.

how to have a homeschool graduation

2. Co-op Homeschool Graduation

Many homeschoolers participate in homeschool co-ops or other groups that organize homeschool graduations. This was how we graduated out our son in 2020 and our daughter in 2021. Our homeschool co-op holds an annual Recognition Night and High School Graduation Ceremony for members of our group in a church building. We have a program for the evening that includes group musical performances, individual music performances, and awards being given. Family members and friends are invited to come to our special evening.  At the end of this, we usually have had 3 or 4 students graduate from high school. Each family provides their own diploma to graduate their student.

In our case, parents are given 10 minutes that they can use however they want to graduate their child. In that 10 minutes, here are the elements families usually choose from to include:

  • Father Speech about Graduate
  • Mother’s Speech about Graduate
  • Student’s Speech
  • A slideshow
  • Awarding of the Diploma
  • (separate from the presentation) A Senior table with work, pictures, awards of the graduate.
homeschool graduation
Our 2020 Graduation outdoors during COVID

I would say, most families use 3 or 4 of these elements. Having only 10 minutes limits the elements naturally. What your family uses really depends on your personality. Sometimes only one parent speak…but usually both. Slideshows were the norm for years but were impossible during our 2020 COVID-19 outdoor graduation. Sometimes students speak but not all of the time. None of these elements are set in stone.

Again, the key here is to get excited about using your 10 minutes to celebrate your student. As homeschool parents, we sometimes get stuck because we are graduating a child that is far from perfect…has lots of growing up to do and may be driving us crazy. But I want to encourage you to use your minutes to focus on how they have grown, important milestones they have achieved, what they have overcome, and what they are excited about in the future. Leave the current drama for another day and say only good things.

In our graduation, parents and students all wore casual clothing in the graduation. This could easily be modified to have caps and gowns but we have never used them.

Now that I have graduated 2 through a homeschool graduation at co-op and one through a private school, I am a bit nostalgic about the homeschool graduations. For my son that graduated through a school, I didn’t get the chance to say just how proud I am of him. I didn’t get to plan his graduation day. Instead, it was all lumped into one huge graduation. It was wonderful…but not the same. 

So if you get to do a graduation where you can say things about and to your kids, do it!! 

3. Independent or State Homeschool Group Graduation

What if a family wants to graduate their student as part of a more traditional ceremony but doesn’t belong to a co-op. Or what if the family belongs to a co-op but really wants a ceremony that is like the one they had growing up…a full formal cap and gown experience. Maybe their co-op doesn’t do traditional graduations. What are the options for the family that doesn’t want to do a private graduation and doesn’t have a co-op graduation? The third option available to homeschool families is what I will call an Independent Graduation.

Many states have statewide homeschool organizations that educate and support homeschool families. One way they support families is by offering a homeschool graduation option to members and sometimes to non-members. 

CHEO in Ohio does a graduation ceremony like this!

On their page, they outline how families can participate in their graduation. The requirements usually include a fee, dress requirements and other expectations. Usually, it is held at a university which provides a nice backdrop for photos.

In these ceremonies, the elements of a traditional graduation ceremony are present. They include:

  • Special Music
  • Opening Remarks
  • Guest Speaker
  • Conferring of Homeschool Diplomas
  • Presentation of the Class

These graduations are a great opportunity to celebrate your homeschooled student in a traditional ceremony. While they have a fee involved, it is usually inexpensive compared to a private ceremony. It also has the benefit of not requiring the parents to prepare a presentation but still offers a great way to celebrate the completion of high school.

how to have a homeschool graduation

More Details About Graduating a Homeschool Senior

Of course there are more details to consider when planning a celebration for your homeschool high school graduate. 

  • Arrange for a Senior photo (I take my own…and with AI Software you can really improve photos without a professional). Of course professional senior portraits are amazing too!
  • Write a high school transcript
  • Make a printed diploma or buy a diploma with your school name and your student’s name
  • Plan a graduation party
  • Order invitations

What Will Your High School Graduate Do Next?

Before you have your big celebration, I would encourage you to take a few minutes to articulate an answer to “What will your son/daughter do next?” 

Of course its an easy answer if they have mapped out a path. “My son is going to study Chemical Engineering at ABC University.”  But there is awkwardness when a student doesn’t know what’s next. In that case, your answer might be, “My daughter is taking a gap year after graduation to work and figure out whether she wants to go to college, a trade school or do something else.” 

Sometimes the teens that have struggled through high school really don’t know what is next. So they don’t actually have an answer. Having a answer planned makes it easy for everyone to graciously navigate that question without a lot of awkwardness! 

Conclusion

Whether you choose to use a private, co-op or independent homeschool graduation for your student is a matter of personal preference. Any of them provides a unique and exciting way to celebrate. When I talk to parents who are unsure about how to graduate out their student…I want to be the voice of reassurance. There is no right way….and it IS WORTH DOING!

I want my kids to know that even though celebrations are a lot of work…or cost money, they are worth doing because they demonstrate what we as a family value. We value our children…hard work…education…overcoming…dreams…goals and so much more. If you graduated a teen, I would love to hear how you did it or how you plan to do it!

Congratulations to your new graduate and to you for finishing this huge accomplishment well!

Sarah McCubbin, founder of Ten Minute Momentum, is dedicated to helping parents confidently parent their kids by teaching life skills, social skills and leadership skills. As a child she was the kid that never quite fit in and is on a mission to help others understand the building blocks we all need to be successful adults. She lives in Ohio with her husband Mike, and 9 kids ranging in age from 5 to 21 where they use homeschool, private school and public schools for their kids education!

More Reading: