You’ve dedicated years to homeschooling. There’s a homeschool graduation in your future.
You’re teaching high school now. It’s all becoming very… REAL. I hear you. I’m there. I’ve got a Senior and a Sophomore this year and I’M the one with Senioritis. My son is cool, calm and collected.
Graduation is coming in nine weeks. No pressure Momma! HA! This year is the culmination of 10 years of homeschooling for this boy and 19 for me. It is our final year spending each day together, and my last chance to “get it right.” Graduation included.
It’s easy to think “I have 12 years of homeschooling to get them through to the end. I have all the time in the world.”
Twelve years seems an eternity away. It IS an eternity away—until it isn’t anymore. Twelve years quickly turns into 10, and 6, and 2 and then suddenly you’re looking up (way up!) at your 17-year-old and wondering where your little boy went and how it all flew so fast. You begin to evaluate last year and start thinking about how to bring this school thing to a close, and often this means contemplating having your child study for and take the state G.E.D. test.
In the past, a G.E.D. has been seen as both the “easy way out” of meeting high school graduation requirements and not as valuable as a high school diploma. Our own students have the opportunity to graduate traditionally, so there is no reason to feel as if a G.E.D. is necessary.
Here are a few more reasons you may not want to take the G.E.D. option:
A G.E.D. cheapens the years you have put into homeschooling.
You have poured years into your child with the aim of providing a quality education. You have viewed the path your family has chosen as a viable alternative to traditional schooling. Don’t you think that is worth a real diploma?
The G.E.D. test still has a stigma attached to it.
Like it or not, in some people’s minds the G.E.D. is seen as a lesser completion of a high school education. The most likely person to hold this opinion will be the one interviewing your child for a job, so this stigma may affect the interviewer’s decision whether or not to hire.
The military views a G.E.D. as a quitter’s way out.
If a potential enlistee comes to a recruiting office with a G.E.D., they are told they need to complete a certain number of college-level credits prior to being accepted for enlistment. I know a guy who was told by the Army that he needed a year of college first, and that the credits must all be college-level. He struggled in math so it would have taken him at least 4-5 quarters to get the required credits for the Army. He opted to not enlist. They want recruits who followed through and finished high school or would be willing to invest more time to accrue college credits prior to enlisting.
The G.E.D. cuts short the education they really need if taken prior to the end of their high school years.
A homeschool mom I know has a son who just wants to skip high school altogether and take his G.E.D. He’s only 14 and a 9th grader. Not only is he too young to take the G.E.D., but he would be missing out on valuable life lessons and instruction during those high school years. As we chatted about this while our boys were in Karate class, I told her to teach him a certain phrase: “Do you want fries with that?”
What 14-year-old thinks much beyond the here and now? Not many. That’s why God gave them parents. It’s our job to keep them from making dumb decisions that will affect the rest of their lives and prevent them from needing to work in a fast food restaurant into their adult years.
The G.E.D. was re-written in 2015 to incorporate Common Core standards and topics, making it a much more difficult test to pass.
This new development is something which is actually putting the G.E.D. out of reach for many who weren’t taught under CC or didn’t understand the CC methods in the first place. The repercussions of these changes haven’t been widely reported yet but I suspect the ripples will be large.
Every state allows homeschoolers to graduate from home.
In Washington, we are able to issue our own diploma. This means that a homeschool diploma is a valid certificate and should be accepted by employers, military and colleges. Visit the Coalition for Responsible Home Education for a summary of your state laws and then create a plan for your student to meet the criteria.
There are several options for homeschool graduation, including:
1. Go through an umbrella school.
This could be a church school or other school that offers homeschool oversight and record keeping. Often they also offer some on-site classes. Tuition costs vary. Our local Christian school’s program runs almost $400/mo per student in addition to the cost of curriculum, and the kids only take classes there one day per week. This is cost prohibitive for many families.
2. Sign up and pay tuition to an online academy.
Schools such as PennFoster, Whitmore School, Hewitt Homeschool Resources and Oak Meadow have full high school programs. You would use their curriculum and program and follow their graduation requirements to earn a diploma. This is a good option if you feel like high school is higher than you are comfortable teaching.
3. Use a credit and record keeping service.
The one offered by North Atlantic Regional High School (NARHS) allows you to use your own curriculum or some of the courses they offer. They require you to keep every single assignment, quiz, test, and writing assignment as well as detailed records and will validate your transcript, issuing an accredited high school diploma when their graduation requirements have been met. They also accept certifications for credit such as lifeguarding, first aid and CPR, MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist).
Many don’t realize that NARHS is also an option for public school students for whom the new high-stakes testing makes graduation just out of reach. One of my daughter’s friends even used NARHS to graduate from high school a full year EARLY in 2009, by taking additional courses through them over two summers! She did this while she was a public school student.
4. Utilize your local Running Start or Dual-Enrollment program.
We did this with our youngest daughter and our youngest son will be doing this in the fall. She had to enroll through a local school, so we chose a parent partnership program rather than the local high school since they deal with homeschoolers all the time. The school approved the enrollment for the community college and the district then paid the college for the student’s courses. Once a quarter J would drop in at the school office with her next quarter’s class sheet filled out, her advisor would sign off the classes, and she’d take it back to the college and turn it into the Running Start counselor. That was it.
She graduated from high school with her Associate’s degree, at 18. Both were issued by the college. She never attended a single class at the approving school and they never questioned a single course she chose. Her advisor told us, “As long the classes she takes fulfill her degree requirements, we don’t need to even get involved with her class planning.”
The trouble is that college classes simply aren’t an option for many high school students.
We needed to scale our son’s education to his abilities, as Autism forced us to be creative in our approaches. We couldn’t fit him into someone else’s school program. For us, the best option is to tailor his education and graduate him when he’s completed the WA State graduation requirements and do it ourselves.
The final (and best, for us) option:
5. Issue your own high school diploma.
Many states allow this, including Washington. Your student can take classes in various places as well as at home and you compile the credits, the transcript, and issue the diploma. It is recommended that you purchase a professionally printed diploma not only as a keepsake, but also because some colleges and military recruiters view a professional diploma as “more official.” This is what we did. You can order beautiful homeschool graduation invitations, tassels, keepsakes and diplomas through HomeschoolDiploma.com.
It’s your school, and you are able to decide what constitutes a complete high school education for your child.
The options are endless, but if you keep your wits about you, the answer to how you will go about homeschool graduation will probably come easier than you think. Hang in there Momma, it’s coming soon and you– and your child– can do it!
If you’re working your way through high school graduation requirements and want to be able to organize it, I’d love to share with you a High School Credit Worksheet I created years ago for my daughters.
I use this same worksheet with my boys to keep track of where they’re at and what they still need to cover. You’ll get a download with two files: A printable PDF and an editable Word document. Just pop your info in the box below and I’ll send it to you straight away!