As home educators, we tailor our children's studies to match their abilities, learning styles, and passions. We find satisfaction in providing a 'one-of-a-kind' education for our children as we help them discover the gifts and interests God has placed within them. As your young adult reaches the brink of completing his high school home education, consider having an individual graduation ceremony to celebrate him.

Think about it. What other time in his life offers this public opportunity to reflect on his character and commit his future into God's hands? What other event during his life gathers the community of family and friends, who have helped him mature into a young adult, to celebrate his uniqueness? What other time in his life provides this opportunity for him to be publicly affirmed and blessed by those whose lives he has already touched?

The concept of an individual graduation ceremony may be totally new to you. Our family has held two of these celebrations and I'm eager to help you catch the vision of this powerful event. As a family, talk about the meaning of graduation, both looking back and looking ahead. Discuss how this graduation ceremony might impact the graduate, you as parents, your family, those attending, and how it can honor God. Are you still with me? Great! Let's explore the practical side. It's easy to get started and it's fun!

Enjoy the planning process

Since this is your son or daughter's graduation celebration, it needs to convey his/her tastes and preferences. Have him design an invitation that reflects his personality. Enlist family members to help address and stamp envelopes. Together gather pictures, projects, scrapbooks, awards, and memorabilia to display that tell about his life. Family members can take a creative role here. When my daughter Rachel graduated, her brother Jonathan made a poster of cartoon illustrations about her life. She made a collage of special pictures from her scrapbooks. When my son Tim graduated, he displayed tools from various jobs he'd had. These preparations fill the weeks before graduation with wonderful memories and 'remember when' conversations.

Choose a location

Where would your son or daughter like to have this celebration? Would they like to have it in a church, at home, in a park? We have our ceremonies at church for three reasons. We want the ceremony within the context of a worship service. It allows the graduate (and family) to invite as many people as they'd like. It's easy to have a cake and punch reception at the church immediately after the graduation. Tim's ceremony was at the church where our homeschool support group met. Since he really like basketball, after his ceremony and reception, Tim and friends played basketball in the church gym. Rachel's graduation was at a church where she participated in a teen girls Bible study.

Plan the service together

What songs will be sung at the service? Let the graduate choose. Tim asked his grandfather to sing and his grandmother to play the piano. When Rachel graduated, she and Jonathan sang a duet. Through the years they'd spent hours singing together at home, so it was natural to include their singing in her ceremony. Your child could choose songs from a CD to be played as she processes and recesses. One family had the band their son played in lead worship during his ceremony. The options are unlimited.

What Bible verses have been especially meaningful to the graduate? Include them in the service. Let him choose a person who has influenced him to give a brief message. Do you want people to speak about the graduate? If so, ask them in advance to say a few words. Or you can announce it at the beginning of the service. How will you pray for the graduate? For Tim, we asked several people (in advance) to come forward, lay their hands on him, and pray for him. At Rachel's ceremony, Tim and Jonathan prayed a blessing over her.