What to Do for a Homeschool Graduation

Having graduated 2 of our 9 kids, I have a little experience with putting together a graduation ceremony. It can be a challenge to figure out what to do. The world has its customs and expectations. How do we, as homeschoolers, decide how much of that to include in our own ceremony, if any?

For us, participating in a group graduation ceremony was not an option. So we decided to host our own. Yes, one child in the graduating class is a bit unusual. But we are used to being the weird ones; can I get an amen?

Our oldest daughter, Grace, graduated in 2008. She wanted something personal, and so we hosted the event at our home. We rented tables and chairs, bought a couple of outdoor fans, and invited about 150 people to come and celebrate with us. Since it was going to be a family affair, we tried to make it kid friendly. We covered the tables with printer paper and used buckets of crayons for the kids to color right on the table. We made a little village out of appliance boxes and bean bag games for the kids to play.

I ordered cakes from Costco and BBQ (You have to have BBQ in Texas!) from our favorite local spot. Grace asked several women that had been an encouragement to her through her life to say a few words. They shared, my husband spoke a few words, I shared my thoughts and experiences then Grace played her violin and said a few words. That was it – a half hour ceremony – then we ate!

On the front porch, we laid out some of the things that she had loved and/or made, school projects, and a slide show of pictures of her throughout the years.

It was an easy, peaceful day, and I think our friends were blessed to have shared it with us. I know we were blessed by them!

Two years later, when it was time for Jacob to graduate, a graduation in the yard wasn’t what we wanted. It didn’t fit Jacob’s personality, so we decided to have it in a local church. It was more of the type of ceremony that people expect but still with only one graduate.

I found frames at IKEA that were perfect for holding pictures of little Jacob, and we, again, put together a table of his favorite things.

He asked 3 men from his life to say something at the ceremony; then my husband and I shared about raising sons and homeschooling. Then Jacob spoke (we called it the “Valedictory Speech” in the program), and we gave him a diploma – which was actually just a rolled up piece of paper with a ribbon around it! :)

Instead of serving a meal, we opted to just serve dessert and punch. We bought cookies (Costco again) and served punch from a large bucket. We aren’t a formal bunch, so a crystal punch bowl didn’t fit our style.

The girls and I made little chocolate graduation caps. They were a hit!

Be encouraged to just have your own ceremony and do whatever fits your family! If you want to have it in a bowling alley or on a cattle ranch – do it! Play instruments, serve ice cream, build Legos….the sky’s the limit! You can be sure of one thing – it will be a graduation that no one will forget.

Lisa P (4 Posts)

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  1. Laura Phillips says

    Thank you for the insight. Our oldest daughter graduated this week and we opted to have an informal ceremony with only our immediate family. The twist was that we surprised her. :) I took her out for a bit while her sisters set up a table with a couple of 8″ x 10″ pictures, a bouquet of flowers and a few gifts. When we arrived at home, she put on her cap & gown and her dad presented her diploma. We had a snack supper and her favorite desserts. It was kind of goofy and definitely not what society expects, but hey, we’ve homeschooled her since birth — who are we to conform?

    I’m looking forward to hearing how others have celebrated — I have 2 more daughters graduating over the next 2 years. :)

  2. says


    We have graduated 3 here in Pennsylvania and we have done three different things. Our oldest graduated in 2007 and he didn’t want a ceremony or to participate in the county wide homeschool graduation. So on his 18th birthday on May 24th we took the family and two of his friends out for a nice dinner and afterward my husband said a few words, we gave him his diploma and he was done and happy!
    My oldest daughter didn’t want to do the big county graduation either, so we had a ceremony at our church with family and friends. Her grandpa read some scripture, our pastor shared briefly, Tim spoke. We made Lindsay prepare a short speech and we were done. For the reception we had an English Country dance. It was great! She was happy and done.
    My other daughter wanted to graduate with friends, so she did the county wide graduation. 92 graduates. Sigh. Anyway, I think she later had wished that she had done something different but was happy to be done with school!

    Our favorite graduation so far has been our oldest daughters’ graduation.


    • says

      Hi elise! For the caps I poured melted chocolate into little square candy molds. I found them at the craft store….easy easy! Lisa~

  3. Sheri says

    Thanks so much for all the great ideas! We are about to graduate our son as a homeschooler. All he knows is that he doesn’t want a bunch of attention and fuss. We will be sure to incorporate some of what I’ve read here into his ceremony/party next month. Thanks again!

  4. says

    Thanks you soo much for sharing this!! I will be graduating in 2014 and this helps a lot!!! I loved the creativity and the freedom to do whatever. Thanks so much I have to share this with my Mom!!

  5. heidi says

    I am just beginning to prepare for a homeschooler graduation. My oldest went to a preforming arts school her last two years so she ended up graduating in traditional style with a class, but my son will be graduating as a traditional homeschooler this next summer. After all the fuss, and pomp and ceremony of my daughter’s experience, my husband and I had the lightbulb moment where we realized we needed to plan something equally grand for our son. He is not one to ask for anything or even hint at it, but I know he will be pleased that we considered his graduating from homeschool as important an event as his sisters.

    He is a quirky, funny, and often quiet kid, but he has a really fun personality. We are pretty country through and through, so we are thinking (without his knowledge) of having a mini ceremony where we do an almost spoof on the traditional public school ceremony. Not to make light of the event, but to put our spin on it. Then, followed by a big country backyard party for friends and family. Hog roasts are not an uncommon event in our world, so that may be the start of the theme. We have several very musical people in our family/friends with different bands and styles, so we are thinking of setting up a stage for music to be played by the different bands and time them appropriately for the people in attendance. (Gospel, bluegrass, country and rock to fall in time with who is still here) Our biggest thing to figure out is the ceremony itself and who and how we will have speakers. I think it is equally important to have something special for this big achievement for our kids as their brick and mortar counterparts.

    I just keep remembering my son asking me on more than one occasion when the topic of graduating came up, “so how will this work for me? do you just hand me a piece of paper and say, ‘you are graduated’? or what?” I knew he was telling me in his own way that he needed to feel special as well. So, his dad and I are dreaming big to make sure he certainly does!

  6. says

    Thank you for sharing. We are under way of putting together our first graduation..needless to say a bit nerve racking (wanting to do it right) having a plan, finding your site and being reassured and confident. Finding that our thoughts are alike, kinda neat. Thank you.

  7. Amy Ruth (Farm Girl) says

    AMEN, Lisa. As a homeschooled student, I will be the first to admit that we are weird. And if not weird, then certainly NOT normal (whatever that is). I’m looking at graduating this spring and I am really not quite sure what I want. There are some really lovely ideas here, and I’ll be sure to use some. My sister graduated two years ago, and my cousin graduated last year, so I have a little bit of knowledge to go off of. I don’t want a very formal evening, yet I want it more formal than just a gathering with friends. I have my dress already, but beyond that the only thing I know for sure is that we will do a dessert, rather than a supper. Probably something like Paska (easter bread with icing), yum! Does any one have any suggestions for me? Photo shoot / order of the evening / etc. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

  8. Angie Young says

    My oldest will be a homeschool graduate in the Spring. We having been thinking about doing the formal graduation ceremony with the local chapter of our state homeschooling group. But there are so many rules and regulations that go with it. And we are not big on rules and regulations which is why we homeschool to begin with.

    We were thinking instead of the graduation ceremony, having a graduation trip instead. I think that is something that would be way more memorable than a 30 minute graduation ceremony.

  9. tina says

    Hi, I know this is am old post, but we are planning our first homeschool graduation this year!! I am wondering how you made the chocolate graduation caps?! Thanks!!

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