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For this last installment of the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop we're discussing graduation and questions about how we mark the occasion and how we know our student is ready to graduate. Are they ever ready - really? Are we as parents ever ready? In just a few short months, a third student will be graduating from our homeschool, so I'm definitely asking myself these questions!
A couple of years ago I wrote a series about Homeschool Essentials for Graduating and highlighted the things I felt were essential for students to accomplish or learn before the end of their high school years. The requirements for my kids to graduate haven't changed much since then. Obviously they need to complete the coursework and credits prescribed by our state and our oversight group. Hopefully we've had their high school coursework planned well enough, and done our record-keeping for a complete transcript which meets requirements to enter the college or career they've chosen. I think it's important for my kids to be adequately trained in how to manage a household by the time they graduate - whether they go off to college, move out on their own, or continue to live with us for awhile longer, they need to be able to handle their own laundry, cooking, finances, and more. They need real world skills for getting (and keeping!) a job and being good citizens. Finally, but most importantly, I believe it's essential that my kids are firmly grounded in Biblical faith before they graduate. They need to make their faith truly their own, and be ready to live it out in whatever situations they are in as adults.
Required Coursework and Credits - Academic requirements are prescribed by state or local education standards. At present, my own homeschool group's minimum requirement is 23.5 credits, which is basically the state minimum plus credits in Bible. Landon is completing high school in three years instead of four, so we are squeezing a lot into this year in order to get it all done!
Record-keeping and Transcript - I keep my students' grades and all their records using Homeschool Tracker, which keeps it simple for me. The end of the semester is coming up, so I'll use the Tracker to produce the report card and then I'll transfer the grades to the form we use for reporting grades to our umbrella group. My group provides the high school transcript when needed, but it's only as good as the information I submit!
Managing a household - Some of the essential skills we try to teach include: laundry, dishes, general cleaning, grocery shopping, meal preparation, household maintenance, vehicle maintenance, yard maintenance (okay, those last two are my hubby's job to teach), balancing a checkbook, and handling personal finances. I'm not even very good at some of those things, and sometimes it's a matter of telling my kids I hope they learn from my mistakes!
Continue easing them to independence. Hopefully they've been learning life skills all the way along. The skills they need to learn might start to look a little different as they become young adults, but they need to be able to do for themselves, take responsibility, and make good choices. Think of yourself as a sort of life coach, and you're getting your kids - and yourself! - through the transition from dependent child to independent adult. They know how to make a sammich - now let them cook a meal for the family once a week. (I wish I'd done this. I still have a chance with my daughter, I guess. LOL) After all, they'll need scavenge their own meals when they move out, and you'll want them to have more than scavenger-level skills. Adjust their household responsibilities to their age and skill level. They will need to know how to do their own laundry and dishes, do their own grocery shopping, take care of household maintenance and yard care duties, do their own banking, pay their own bills, etc someday. If they don't move out as soon as they graduate high school, you will want them to clean up after themselves at the very least. Don't let them graduate high school without knowing the basics of running a simple household. Expect them to take responsibility for their own actions and choices. They should learn how to be trustworthy workers, and that they should contribute positively to society, rather than sit around expecting the world to cater to them. (This is from my post: T is for Teenagers.)Real world skills - We've tried to cover things like how to put together a resume, how to handle a job interview, and how to be a good employee. I want my young adults to know how to build their resume, what to expect and how to present themselves at an interview or in a business setting, and how to interact with all kinds of people in many kinds of work and social settings.
Faith and worldview - Without a vibrant personal faith and a confidence in their Biblical worldview, the other skills and head knowledge may not be worth much. We chose to homeschool because we took seriously the responsibility we have to disciple our children, and to bring them up to know God and to honor him in everything - that includes education, work, hobbies, relationships, community, and the list goes on. That's why I believe in using education, especially during the high school years, to get kids firmly grounded in God's Word and to encourage them to grow deeper in their faith. What they learn and believe about God's character and God's plan for their own lives will have a huge influence on their choices.
Okay, he's ready! How will we celebrate?
We are very fortunate to belong to a homeschool oversight group that provides a beautiful commencement ceremony for those who wish to participate. (I'm on the grad ceremony committee, so I'm doubly involved this year! And a little biased about how great the occasion is.) So our students will have a traditional gown and mortarboard, and our commencement exercises include the traditional things you'd expect at a large school ceremony - Pomp and Circumstance, presentation of diplomas, and a commencement address. The families and the grads are all very involved in making decisions for the ceremony, so it can be much more personal than a commencement with hundreds of students. We include some music and a time of worship, and put together a powerpoint with photos of each student through the years accompanied by music of their choice. We also print a program that includes a short bio of each student. That kind of individual attention to each student's personality and achievements make it a very special event, even when we have a relatively large class as we do this year. For us, a large class is about 15 students!
Please visit the Homeschooling High School blogs listed below for their thoughts on graduation.
Read more on High School Graduation:
- Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break shares: Graduation and Beyond!
- Carol @ Home Sweet Life shares: Transcripts, Graduation, and a Diploma
And please don't forget the High School Lesson Book link-up I'll be hosting each week right here on Homeschool Coffee Break. The fun begins this Friday and each week I invite you to share what's going on in your homeschool that's high school related! We've started building a Homeschooling High School Blog Roll through that link-up as well. Add your blog to the link at Happy Holidays - Homeschooling High School Blog Roll or on the Blog Roll page of Homeschool Coffee Break.
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