How to Make Homeschool Graduation a Meaningful Christian Milepost
Time to Look Backward with Thankfulness & Look Forward in Faith
For us as Christian homeschoolers, graduation provides us with a unique opportunity to bless our child and remind them of their foundation of faith, while also giving a testimony of God's goodness.
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 homeschooled student dons a cap and gown, but at some point they DO finish.
How do we mark the completion of a home education?
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? Some 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 gives us an 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!
Reclaiming the Spiritual Role of a "Rite of Passage"
High School Graduation remains one of the significant rites of passage in our culture, though one that is typically devoid of spiritual significance. It does not have to be that way; we can reclaim the spiritual dimension!
“A rite of passage is like a doorway. It is a meaningful point where we can pause on the threshold of change and look in two directions - past and future."
I think a rite of passage is like a doorway. It is a meaningful point where we can pause on the threshold of change and look in two directions - past and future. 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!
“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!"
Graduation as a Milepost: “Thus far the Lord has helped us”
When I reflect on the graduation celebrations in our own family (that's another story; read it here), I realize that they are mileposts in many ways. I am reminded of several passages in the Old Testament where the Lord instructed the Israelites to raise up standing stones as reminders of His help. One of these is in I Samuel 7, where we read that after a victory over the Philistines,
“… Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
Have you ever sung "Here I raise mine Ebenezer, hither by thy grace I'm come..." and wondered what an Ebenezer is? Simply put, it's a pile of stones that served as a 'marker.' God told the Israelites to place these markers in their lives at significant events. They provided memorials that would spur the people to remember and retell the story of God's hand in that event. Our families need these kinds of markers, too, and graduation is an opportunity to create one!
Turn the Traditional Graduation Expressions into Testimonies
Just as homeschooling is more than academics, a homeschool graduation can signify more than just the completion of a course of study. We can use this as a time to affirm our children's passage into adult life, and the symbolic expressions of graduation can take on a deeper meaning.
“We can use the traditional forms associated with graduation, such as the diploma and the announcement, to give a testimony of what God has done in our children's lives through homeschooling."
The diploma I wrote for our son contained these words: ". . . has not only mastered a body of knowledge pursuant to a High School education, but has also demonstrated Godly wisdom and personal maturity based upon faith in Jesus Christ . . ."
The knowledge gained through study was only part of his education; we wanted to recognize the Godly person our son had become through faith. Certainly, we can use the traditional forms associated with graduation, such as the diploma and the announcement, to give a testimony of what God has done in our children's lives through homeschooling.
Looking Back While Looking Ahead
This favorite passage of mine from Colossians 2:6-7 is a wonderful one for our children as they reach the graduation milestone:
"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving."
Like the commencement itself, this verse links the past with the future. The "abounding ... with thanksgiving" comes from having a clear view of God's dealing with us in the past, and the admonition for the future is also clear: "so walk in him." The middle section of this verse ties the two together with the 'meat' of Christian home education: "established in the faith, as you have been taught."
As our children reach the end of their home education and prepare to move on to the next stage of their lives, can we ask for anything more important than that they remain "rooted and built up in him," continuing to grow in the Lord? I encourage you to make an effort to mark this transition in their lives in a way that magnifies its spiritual significance, blessing them and bearing witness to the grace of our Lord!
I encourage you to make an effort to mark this transition in their lives in a way that magnifies its spiritual significance, blessing them and bearing witness to the grace of our Lord!
Joan Thompson is the founder of HomeschoolDiploma.com.