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Are We Done Yet?

By Ann Zeise

For homeschool families who choose not to go through an organized program or curriculum, coming to the point of saying, “Yes, we’re done and we’re going to graduate our teen from high school,” is not an easy task.

By 17 or 18, some of our teens have already been taking college classes for years. Others are already established in careers and have good jobs. Some may have children of their own. While some just seem to be learning all the time, and it seems a shame to call attention to the “end of high school.” Others seem to be “late bloomers,” and just don’t seem to have mastered all they “should.”

Does any parent think their 18 year old is ready to face the challenges of adult life? I don’t think so! But this shouldn’t stop you from celebrating this milestone in the life cycle. Who is ever “done” with growing, maturing, learning? No one.

So, how do you know your teen is “done?” Some big clues might be…

Some rely on tests to reassure them that their teens have learned enough; such tests as the GED, a state high school equivalency test, or the college entrance tests, the SAT or the ACT. Unschoolers may eschew the tests, because they just know in their hearts that their teen is just ready to celebrate this life milestone, from boy to man or girl to woman.

Few states have “graduation requirements.” Educational institutions have “graduation requirements.” While states do have “content standards,” and some are starting to have special graduation tests, these requirements are for those attending public schools, and not private or home schools, which may set their own standards if they are set up legally as private schools. The only people we have to please are ourselves, a potential employer in the field of our choosing, and college admissions officers, again, in the colleges of our choice.

Some like to mark this occasion with a small family party. Other parents and older teens throw a prom. Some support groups hold a graduation ceremony during their spring or summer homeschool conference or convention. Here are some links to sites describing a wide variety of commencement ceremonies.

Another step in this finishing process is to complete a portfolio and/or transcriptfor your teen. They may need this many years from now to get a job or career advancement, so you need to figure out how to make and safely store additional copies. Do not count on these things surviving moves, or acts of nature. Do not count on the distance learning program still being in business. I occasionally hear from former unschooled kids desperate for a transcript to show an employer, leaving parents and their 30-something child scrambling to try to recall what was accomplished during their teen years.

Is a physical diploma necessary? Not really. It is something nice to put on the wall or in a scrapbook. It is a symbol, though, of accomplishment, and therefore as important to a teen as a 2-wheel bike is to a 6 year old who has outgrown his tricycle. It is also a symbol of commencement: the commencement of adult life. We all know of adults who don’t have a high school diploma who forever wish they had one, and often return to complete high school much later in life. So orderor make a diploma for your teen, and have a little ceremony in which you award it.

What about the teen “tough cases,” you may ask? What about the teen who was booted out of his public school and seems to have done “nothing” since? What about the teen mother who has been so busy taking care of her baby, holding a down a dead-end job, that it seems little “school work” has been done? Life experiences can count. If you are having a hard time figuring out if a transcript can be drawn up for such a teen, do contact Wes Beach of Beach High and see if he can help. He’s very good at helping a teen look at their lives and translating what they’ve done in terms an employer or college admissions officer can understand.

In another article, I’m going to address the “empty nest syndrome” of former homeschool moms and dads once their last child has left the home. It is hard to “give up” the homeschool community, and many continue to contribute. Me, I have started more “homeschooling” myself! It is great fun for me to pour over my websites, and figure out new tricks. I spend hours with my photography now, going on “field trips” and putting on photography shows with my local camera club. Again, wait for this article later on.

What’s Next?

Course Numbers and Transcript Details
Important pieces that should always be included when preparing a transcript for a college. By Shirley Minster.

GED For Homeschoolers?
Does your teen really need a GED? Information both for teens and parents who need the GED to homeschool legally.

Graduation From Homeschool
From unschoolers’ commencements to formal cap and gown ceremonies, homeschool families mark this transition in unique and creative ways.

Homeschool Diploma Photoshop Template
Diploma with gold lettering and no border. Diploma.ttf font. Edit in Photoshop to customize for your graduate. Print on certificate paper.

Homeschoolers At Work
Young homeschoolers working. Choosing a career. Homeschoolers in the work force – and succeeding!

Creating portfolios for personal use, jobs or for getting into college.

Proms for Homeschoolers
Several states are having state-wide proms for homeschoolers this year. Here are their announcements.

SAT and Other College Tests
Homeschoolers can get pre-college test information at these sites.

Help interpreting your high school-level work to make into transcripts for college applications.

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