My extended family doesn’t necessarily see a problem with me homeschooling our children through the lower grades, but they think it will be a big mistake if I homeschool through high school. Their main reason is they think I will be depriving the kids of high school experiences like graduating with a class, yearbooks, class rings, etc. Truth be told, I’ve also wondered how to incorporate these high school traditions into our homeschool.
Being a graduating homeschooler does not automatically disqualify your child from the traditions of public (or even private) school seniors. At the same time, it is important to understand that the traditions themselves are meaningless without the intent of honoring and glorifying God behind them. So, if your homeschooled senior desires to participate in such traditions, and as long as those desires line up with God’s desires for your senior, there is no reason for your senior to feel left behind as far as high school traditions go.
The first thing you may want to do as a homeschool parent is to make sure you are a member of at least one homeschool Yahoo group for your area, as these groups will often have multiple postings about high school graduation-related activities. Here in Connecticut, there are several such groups: CT Homeschoolers Inclusive, CT Homeschool Network, and CTCHEER (which is east of the river).
In terms of graduating with a class, TEACH has traditionally held an Annual Homeschool Graduate Recognition Ceremony in June. The ceremony is a wonderful opportunity for graduating homeschool seniors who desire the sense of closure that a graduation ceremony offers. There are also support groups throughout the state that hold graduation ceremonies to honor graduating homeschoolers who have participated in their group. If these options are not a possibility for you, perhaps due to distance, an alternative is for you to organize and post about a graduate recognition ceremony for homeschool seniors in your area. It could be as simple as a backyard picnic (or reserve a local park pavilion), or a more formal sit-down dinner in a reserved room at a restaurant or banquet hall.
If you are organizing your own graduation ceremony, there are online stores such as the HSLDA Store and Homeschool Diploma that sell graduation supplies such as diplomas, cap and gown packages, etc., to add to the sense of formality. In addition, if having a class ring is important to your homeschooled senior, or if you simply want to gift your senior with a ring as a graduation gift, the best price I found online is through Dunham Manufacturing. Their budget rings start at $71 (which includes shipping).
In this age of digital photography and online photo services (offered by companies like Shutterfly, Picaboo Yearbooks, and Total Yearbooks), homeschool yearbooks are a viable option for homeschool families. The sky’s the limit when creating your own yearbook. Since homeschooling is really an all-encompassing lifestyle and not just about academics, include whatever life aspects you want in your yearbook, such as: co-op activities, fieldtrips, family vacations, homeschool dances, dance recitals, sports activities, church functions in which your family participated, your children’s interactions with each other and family pets and extended family and friends, music recitals, art projects, etc.
If you are like me, photography may not be your strong suit. (I find joy in looking at beautiful and creative photographs, just not in creating them.) In that case, perhaps you and your homeschooled senior could engage in a photography unit study together that culminates in a final yearbook project. There are free photography unit studies online (see Oklahoma Homeschool or Free Homeschool Deals) or there are for-purchase unit studies such as Amanda Bennett’s Digital Photography Unit Study. Another alternative is to dual enroll your senior in a photography class at the local community college.
As you can see, high school traditions are not necessarily out of reach for your homeschooled senior. You can find creative ways to incorporate them. Just remember to take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. (Psalm 37:4)