Planning a Homeschool Graduation Ceremony: a Month by Month Timeline
Start planning your teen’s homeschool graduation as early as possible. This timeline plots a six month course to ensure a memorable high school graduation ceremony with as little last minute stress as possible.
You homeschooled your child to this point; you can handle a graduation ceremony, too! Just take it step by step.
Planning a homeschool high school graduation ceremony is intimidating. You need to plan everything from the venue to the food and from the guest list to the speeches. So just when and where do you start?
These are general guidelines for when to take care of the different tasks on the homeschool graduation checklist. If you have more time, you can enjoy a more leisurely pace than what is presented here. However if you just realized you need to plan a high school graduation next month, take a deep breath. Work through the timeline step by step. You can do it!
Six Months Before Homeschool Graduation
Decide on the mood you’d like to have for the graduation ceremony. It can be extremely formal, a casual affair or something in-between. Some options are to have an informal gathering with a brief ceremony towards the end, a formal ceremony with musicians and speeches, or a dinner party with a ceremony afterwards.
Now set a budget for your high school graduation ceremony. If you’re not careful, a high school graduation ceremony can quickly become expensive. It may be helpful to list what expenses will fall on what months, so you can make room for those costs as they come due.
Once you’ve decided on the mood and budget for the high school graduation ceremony, it’s time find a venue and set a date. Sit down with your calendar and find a set of likely dates then cross check those for availability at the various venues in your area. You’ll want to make certain the venue you find is within your budget. It’s stressful to find the perfect venue only to discover it’s so expensive there’s no budget left for a cap gown, nice food, or themed decorations. If you’re at a loss for finding a venue, search for spots to host wedding parties since any of those venues should also be suitable for a high school graduation ceremony. Less expensive options include having the ceremony at your home or a park.
Make a guest list at this time as well. While you won’t be sending out invitations yet, it might be nice to give family who live out of town a heads-up to let them know the date of the graduation ceremony so they have time to make travel arrangements.
5 Months Before Homeschool Graduation
If you will be having guests from out of town attending the high school graduation ceremony, you’ll want to make hotel reservations. Hotels can fill up quickly during June, the month of weddings and graduations.
Hire a photographer or videographer for the graduation if you want professional documentation of the ceremony. For a less expensive option, ask a friend or teenager handle the photography.
There’s no need for you to do everything by yourself, so ask friends and family to help you plan the ceremony: what type of ceremony you’d like to hold, how long it should be, if there will be music, who will give speeches, etc.
You’ll want to order the cap and gown early enough to exchange them if there’s a problem, so it’s time to measure your teenager for the right size. While you’re ordering the cap and gown, consider ordering the tassel, diploma, guest book, and thank you notes as well.
You may wish to go ahead and order the graduation announcements or wait until after the senior photos are finished. Decide whether you want a photo announcement or if you want to include a print of the portrait within the invitation or announcement. This choice will affect the timing of the senior portraits.
By ordering these things five months ahead of time, everything should arrive long before you need them for the high school graduation ceremony. You may need to store the items for a few months, but it’s far better than worrying if you’ll have them in time for the graduation or than paying expensive express shipping charges.
4 Months Before Homeschool Graduation
Book a reservation for your teenager to have senior graduation pictures taken. Senior portraits personalize the mailing and make the recipients especially happy to receive your announcement. You’ll need the photos taken well in advance in order to have them ready in time, especially if you want to print photo announcements. Consider having some of the senior photos taken with your teenager in the cap and gown.
Some steps require advance planning such as senior portraits and ordering announcements. Don't delay to outline your own personalized timeline for homeschool graduation.
3 Months Before Homeschool Graduation
Decide the final order of the graduation ceremony and make a schedule of events for the day of graduation. Also plan the reception after the ceremony. One big consideration is if you want a meal catered or if you want to stick with simple refreshments of cake and punch.
If you’re going to include music as part of the ceremony, make your final decisions now. There’s always the option of using a stereo to provide the music with a younger child in charge of monitoring it. You can also seek out a small ensembles from your local high school or homeschool group who me interested in playing at the graduation ceremony for a small fee.
Do you wish to provide a printed program for the commencement ceremony? If so, consider including information about your homeschool graduate such as memorable events from high school, interests, passions, and future plans.
A memories table is a wonderful addition to a homeschool high school commencement. You set up a table with pictures from childhood and other mementos of the years, especially high school. Remember to plan a spot for guests to place cards and gifts they bring for your graduating senior. A spot near the guest book tends to work the best.
2 months Before Homeschool Graduation
You should have the announcements or invitations by this time, so you can begin addressing and stamping the envelopes. Usually the invitations are mailed 4-6 weeks before the graduation date. If you’re expecting guests from out of state, send the cards earlier than later in order to give your guests plenty of time to make traveling arrangements.
Contact your caterer and order the graduation cake. Not all bakeries will take orders farther than 2 months in advance, so make a note on your calendar when you should place the orders if necessary.
As you’re making the schedule of events for the day of graduation, remember to include the pick-up times for food, cakes, and decorations. Also find out the sizes of tables in your venue. Running to the store at the last minute for larger tablecloths adds more excitement than most people want for this momentous day.
1 Month Before Homeschool Graduation
Encourage your high school graduate to schedule a haircut well before graduation. If the haircut ends up being a disaster, there will be time for it to grow out before the actual ceremony.
Also purchase a new dress or suit if needed. Remember women should wear dark slacks or a dark skirt with a light blouse under the graduation gown. Men should wear dark slacks with a light shirt and dark tie under the gown.
The RSVPs should be arriving by now. Keep a list of who will be attending the ceremony.
Week of Graduation Homeschool Graduation
The week of the graduation ceremony, double check your detailed schedule for the day of graduation. Make certain everyone knows what they’re doing and what they’re responsible for.
In addition, check in with the photographer and musicians to ensure everything is in order for the graduation ceremony. Ask if there are any additional supplies which will be needed.
After Homeschool Graduation
Remind your high school graduate to write thank you notes for all the graduation gifts. Include a personal note in each thank you letter and address the envelopes by hand.
This is also the perfect time to create a graduation scrapbook. You can include a copy of the program, pictures, and the guest book in the scrap book. Consider taping a page protector to the back cover of the scrapbook where you can place the high school diploma and high school transcript. Your teenager will know where to find both of these important documents should they be needed.
The trick with high school graduation ceremonies is to carefully and methodically work your way through the timeline of tasks. Many later steps depend upon earlier steps such as having the senior photographs ready for the graduation program and invitations, so feel free to rearrange the items to fit your particular situation.