An acquaintance of ours whose children are in a Christian school heard me use the words “homeschool” and “graduation” in the same sentence and told me bluntly, “Homeschoolers don’t graduate.”

Well, not every homeschooling student dons a cap and gown, but at some point they do finish.  The line between high school and the world of higher education or career is often less distinct for homeschoolers than it is for others, since our teens may move into these areas at the same time they are “doing high school” at home.  Regardless, a point eventually comes when we can look at our child and say, “You are done with high school.”

As Christian homeschoolers, how do we mark this point?  Many of us do nothing, having no desire to imitate the ceremonies of a secular education system we’ve chosen not to be part of. This is understandable, but I believe that this special point in time provides us with the unique opportunity to bless our child and remind them of their foundation of faith, while at the same time giving a testimony of God’s goodness and grace to those around us. I think it is an opportunity that we should seize!

High school graduation remains one of the significant “rites of passage” in our culture, though one that is typically devoid of the spiritual significance that marks most other rites of passage.  I like to think of a rite of passage as a doorway. It is a meaningful point where we can pause on the threshold of change and look in two directions—past and future. For a Christian, looking back reminds us of God’s faithfulness and gives us the foundation we need to look ahead to the uncertainties of the future with an attitude of humility and faith. As a homeschooling mother, I look back and am awed by the ways that the Lord directed the education of each child, and the people and events He used to do it.  I’m humbled by the fact that His leading and His blessings have come in spite of my shortcomings! What an exercise in thankfulness it is for my husband and me to glance over our shoulders and see the Lord’s hand of mercy in our lives and in the lives of our children! 

And as we stand on the “threshold” of a new beginning (the word commencement certainly implies a beginning!) we face the unknown. The only genuine hope we have for the future and for our children’s future is found in the Lord, and as we pause to recognize this, it is cause for worship. Looking back with thankful hearts allows us to look forward with faith!

Some families choose to hold a ceremony at home or in their church and make their child’s commencement a public affair with friends and family present. Others keep it a very private affair and make it a memorable family-only time.

When our daughter graduated, we chose to do both. She completed her academic work in early January. She had no desire to participate in a group graduation ceremony, and we did not try to talk her into it; it would have meant “graduation” with a crowd of complete strangers and would have held very little significance for any of us.  We wanted to have an Open House for her once the weather warmed up in the spring, but meanwhile, it seemed important to recognize the fact that she had finished her high school work and had done such an excellent job. We wanted to honor her for her many accomplishments and Godly character, and encourage her to continue in her faith.

I created a very special diploma just for her, with wording that gave thanks to God for His enabling grace and included the verse from Proverbs 9 that reads “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”  My husband and I made plans to have a family dinner (just the four of us) in late January at a very special restaurant about an hour from home.