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Times of transition

August 11, 2010 4 comments

Late last night (Tues) dh and ds17 returned from the trip to NY for ds’s yeshiva interview.  They both had a very positive impression about the yeshiva, and because of a comment that one interviewer made to ds (“When you come to me for Shabbos, I have lots to ask you about homeschooling!”), we knew he was accepted even though they don’t notify you on the spot.   Dh received the official call today.  He’ll be going to a yeshiva in NY, that I feel is choice on a number of levels – it met all of our technical criteria, and has a warm and supportive atmosphere where the focus is on the individual.

The term begins on Aug. 25, which means ds will be leaving to NY on Tues. Aug. 24.  When I realized it meant we have less than two weeks with him, and less than three weeks with ds15 before she leaves to Israel for ten months (she’s leaving Tues. Aug. 31), the realization struck me very hard that time is flying by and this short time will be gone before I blink!  I’ve intellectually been aware of this – particularly when this past Shabbos, I realized that we have only one more Shabbos with all of the kids home (for at least another ten months).   I had to consciously create the space for even that last Shabbos together, since ds11 and dd14 were away last week, dd14 will be at camp this coming weekend, and the following week dd15 had planned to travel to NY for the weekend.  I asked her to cancel her plans even though it might mean she won’t be able to see a very close friend before she leaves to Israel.  Family takes priority.

I’ve been so busy with the technicalities of all that needs to be taken care of – obviously there are a number of things the oldest two kids who are going away need (which has been significant in terms of time, energy, and money! – and tonight the oldest two converged on me, each with lists of more things they need to take care of), as well as the day to day summer activities, and planning the coming school year (which is taking more thought than usual since I’ve been considering if dd14 should graduate at 16, which influences the choices I make now).  And all of this busyness means that I haven’t had time to feel anything about them going – until last night.

As parents, we want to give our kids the ability to be independent and follow what is important to them, to grow into mature and emotionally healthy adults.  I’ve been looking back on our home education journey and thinking about what has been successful as well as where I’d like to adapt for the future, but overall my feeling is immense and intense gratitude that they’ve grown up so beautifully.  I’m so happy for both of them and grateful that they have found opportunities to grow and experience things that are important to them.  And as each older sibling moves out, I think it’s wonderful how the next child in the family has his/her chance to have the spotlight; I’m looking forward to focusing more on the younger kids in the coming year, with a particular focus on dd14 and ds11.

But having said all of that, last night when ds asked me what the starting date for the yeshiva was and I answered him, I was suddenly hit with a strong wave of  already missing them even though they’re still here.  Just having dd14 out of the house for two weeks at camp has been an adjustment for everyone (even though she comes home every night around 10:30 pm) – so I expect the oldest two leaving for a long time will be quite significant for us all.  Fortunately, ds will probably come home every six weeks or so for Shabbos – that definitely makes it much easier!

Life is full of so many good things, but that doesn’t always mean it’s easy!

Avivah

Categories: Graduation

Post high school yeshiva applications

July 28, 2010 13 comments

I’ve been meaning to update here with what’s going on with ds17, but I’ve been waiting for something definite to share, which hasn’t happened.

Here’s the story:  ds thought he was going to a yeshiva in CT, and was already telling people that’s where he was going.  When he went there at the end of May (or was it the beginning of June?), he didn’t find it the environment he was looking for, and I was extremely disturbed at the lack of organization shown by the administration, which was literally incomprehensible to me.  I’ve debated whether to describe what happened during his trip or not, but I’ve decided to leave it at that.  I spoke to key people there afterward to let them know they lost a great young man as a result of their disinterested approach to his visit.  I had one particularly long and interesting conversation in which I was told “wake up and smell the coffee”, that my son is unusual (in terms of good character and expectations of such in others) because he’s so ‘sheltered’ and I’m not going to find a place that meets my criteria.  (My unrealistic criteria: a place where most of the young men attending are serious about Torah learning, not into shtick, and a supportive and warm environment where each person is treated as an individual.  Also wanted a place that was accredited and could grant college credits.)  They were very nice but it wasn’t what we were looking for.

Then I decided to forget about warm and supportive, and just go for a strong learning environment.  Off we went to another more local yeshiva (I mentioned here previously that we had sent in the application).  Everyone who knows ds and the institution had absolutely no doubt he’d be accepted.  It took three weeks to get an answer, and I was finally told “We have an arrangement with our high school that we do not accept students who have not had the equivalent of 12 years of a normal limudei kodesh background, under normal circumstances.”  The suggestion was made that “After completing the equivalent of the 12th grade limudei kodesh in a yeshiva high school, he could be considered for admission to the beis medrash for the following year.”

This response didn’t bring a smile to my face (actually, it raised my hackles).  I responded that ds had a normal Judaic background, under the tutelage of his father rather than school administrators.  I mentioned that after ten years in kollel (full time Torah study for married men) at well-known and respected institutions that included the Mir and Lakewood, dh was certainly capable of overseeing this and I found it incomprehensible that my son had the same status as someone who was coming from public school might.  Since I was told in that same email that exceptions are only made for students who are head and shoulders above their same age peers (why would he want to attend this  institution if he were way above their level?), or those who returned to Judaism at a later age,  I asked if they’d be willing to considered him a year from now when he is officially the same age as most other high school graduates (18) if he doesn’t attend high school for an additional year, and inquired how many years it would take before my son would have the same enrollment status as those older returnees.  No answer.

Well.  It may be a fine institution but they’ve made it crystal clear that dealing with each person as an individual isn’t their strength.  I think of it like this, and ds feels the same way:  We weren’t told ‘no’.  We were told, ‘There’s something much better coming soon.’  I’m so glad to have been clearly shown why this wasn’t the right place for ds.  There is an option we’re looking into now, and assuming the application process goes smoothly, he’ll travel to NY for his interview on Aug. 10.  (These travel costs and application fees have been putting a serious dent in our budget!)  Ds has a good feeling about this yeshiva, and for a number of reasons, so do I.  I’ll let you know what happens on that front once we have some closure!

Avivah

Categories: Graduation

Homeschool graduation ceremony

June 8, 2010 15 comments

The graduation ceremony on Sunday was soooo nice!  It was held in the grand ballroom of the top ranked hotel in historic Gettysburg. It was a beautiful day in every way – the drive there, the weather (at least on the drive home!), the people, the hotel, and the event itself.

Beginning at 1:30 was a special reception being held for the seniors, each of whom was allowed to bring two friends.  We didn’t get there until about 2:15, so the kids didn’t really participate in the reception. I took the older kids in so they could get settled without a rush, and asked dh to give the littles something to eat and to let them run around so they’d be prepared to sit for a while.  After signing in, they went to get their caps and gowns on to prepare for the processional, and there was the first problem.

Do you remember last week when I told you about all that I did to be sure dd15 had a new gown because it was so important to her?   Dd had been very, very careful, checking several times, to be sure she had the right gown.  Unfortunately, ds16 didn’t check at all.  And he took the masters gown that had the funky sleeves.   Though he was willing to wear it since it was his mistake, it was sized for someone 5′ 5″ and he would have looked ridiculous. So guess who had to wear it?  Yep.  Dd.   Ds ended up wearing the gown she had brought, which was sized for someone 5’7″ – 5’9″, a size smaller than he needed but still okay in terms of length.

Dd was close to tears when she realized that she was going to have to wear this gown in spite of all the efforts made to ensure she had the right thing.  She really, really was upset about it, but the first thing she told me after showing me the sleeves was not to say anything to ds about it, that he already felt bad enough.  I told her later that day that she was sent a custom-made growth opp0rtunity and she passed with flying colors; she didn’t blame anyone and she really had reason to be annoyed, but she put it behind her and didn’t let it ruin her entire day.

Right after getting her settled, it was time for the guests to enter the ballroom.  I met up with dh, and confirmed with him that the littles had been fed.  “No, they ate before we left the house; they won’t be hungry.”  But it had been two hours since we left the house, so I quickly gave each of the three littles a hard boiled egg to eat.   Though we ended up entering later than almost everyone, it was still on time.  But within two minutes of the welcoming remarks, ds2 was loudly saying, “I wewy hungy (I’m very hungry), I want ood (food).”

So out dh went to get him an egg, and I asked dh to be really careful so no crumbs would end up being made (being that were were in the ballroom where nothing than water was allowed, and it was a formal kind of occasion).  Has anyone else noticed that husbands sometimes have a different sense of what that means than wives?  So ds proceeded to make a mess all over the floor (because it’s hard to neatly eat a hardboiled egg when you’re little)  and wipe his hands on my skirt.  Dh was laughing at the two-year-oldness of it all but I wasn’t – at all.  (He is pretty cute, though!)

This was the beginning of my personalized growth opportunity of the day- when you’ve put so much of yourself into something (in this case, ten years of homeschooling plus all the effort involved in participating in the graduation, getting everyone there on time, etc) and have everything worked out, it’s hard to have the experience significantly changed from what you expect.  Within just a couple of minutes of the egg situation, I realized that there was no way I’d be able to stay in and enjoy the ceremony so I took the baby and ds2 out.

And it took me at least ten minutes to stop feeling resentful that everyone else could be there (my inlaws, my mom and a friend, all my kids and a friend of dd), while I worked so much for this and I couldn’t.  It reminded me of a situation some of you may have experienced at some point: you’ve recently had a baby, but are finally ready for guests.  After spending hours in the kitchen, cooking for Shabbos and cleaning the house from top to bottom, everything is ready.  The guests arrive and shortly after the meal begins, you have to go nurse the baby (which because the baby is still tiny takes about 30 – 40 minutes) while everyone at the table enjoys all your work while you miss it all and get there when the meal is over.

But gratitude is a wonderful tool and it was very helpful in helping me get out of that negative head space by refocusing on the positive aspects.  By the time dh came a while later to find me and insist that I go back in (“Avivah, there’s no one here who belongs in there more than you do”), I was fine with where I was and how things were.  More than halfway through the ceremony my father in law came out because he was ready to stretch his legs, so he watched the littles and I was able to go back in right before my kids were introduced and stayed until the end.

But let me get back to the graduation itself.  To begin the ceremony, the senior processional entered the ballroom from two sides, which was filled to the brim with 500 guests, while the typical graduation theme (can’t remember what it’s called – Pomp and Circumstance?) was played on the piano.  That was followed by the invocation, then the Pledge of Allegiance, then welcoming remarks by the organizer.

The graduation was themed to the historical time period of the Civil War (appropriate since we were in historic Gettysburg).  The musician played historically appropriate music, which was a very nice addition.  He started by telling us about a song played at that time called Rally Round the Flag, and taught us the refrain.

I’ve been singing it the last few days since learning it there!  Here are the lyrics:

“Yes, we’ll rally ’round the flag, boys
We’ll rally ’round again
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom
We will rally from the hillside
We’ll gather from the plain
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom

The Union forever, hurrah boys, hurrah
Down with the traitor, up with the star
While we rally ’round the flag, boys
Rally once again
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom

We will welcome to our numbers
The loyal, true and brave
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom
And although he may be poor
Not a man shall be a slave
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom

So we’re springing to the call
From the East and from the West
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom
And we’ll prove a loyal crew
To the land we love the best
Shouting the battle cry of Freedom.”

(Here‘s an online version of the song, if you’re interested in hearing the tune;  I had never heard it and it seems most of the audience hadn’t.)  He had a wonderful deep and hearty voice, and followed the first song with a request for everyone to join in “Oh, Susannah”, which everybody knew and the room was filled with sound as everyone sang together.  It was a rousing and enjoyable way to open the event, really setting the mood for an enjoyable and unique event.

After the historical musical selections, there was a presidential entrance made by Abraham Lincoln, who entered with two reenactors portraying Civil War soldiers.

The portrayal of Abe Lincoln was done by a professional Lincoln reenactor and he spoke about how he was also homeschooled, and then shared the Gettysburg Address.  I unfortunately wasn’t there by this point so I couldn’t hear what he said, but my family said it was interesting.

Then the senior class was introduced one by one.   Prior to the ceremony a short bio of each student was submitted by the parents, and the organizer shared the details about each student based on the bio as well as her personal knowledge of them.  This is what took the longest amount of time, since there were 44 graduates!   But even though it took time, it was interesting to see the diversity represented and  I appreciated seeing the breadth of accomplishment represented – it was quite impressive, but what I liked most was seeing the individuality of each person shining through.

Right after each student was introduced, they were called up and presented with a rose by one of the reenactors in front of everyone (you can see the reenactors in the background).

 

When all of the students were introduced, they were instructed to take their roses to their mothers and give her a big hug and thank you.  It was a very nice gesture, though my kids gave it to dh first since they didn’t see me in the crowd.  Then we had a short break.

After the break the commencement address was given by Senator Bryan Simonaire, of the Maryland General Assembly, district 31.  He happens to be a homeschool parent as well!  And his talk was short but really, really great!  He started by telling us that as a senator, he specifically looks for homeschoolers to work with since they are dedicated, motivated, hard working, and know how to have fun while they work.  He then shared his experience of being told he could never succeed politically, and how he persisted in spite of it.  His message was to never give up, to believe in yourself, and not to be afraid to make mistakes.  It was excellent.

Then the seniors one by one were awarded their diploma.  Prior to the ceremony, parents had been given three choices for how the diploma was granted: by Abe Lincoln, by Abe Lincoln with the parents standing to the side, or by the parents with Abe Lincoln by the side.  I chose the last option – I didn’t do all this work for years to let a stranger give my child his/her diploma!   Each senior walked onto the stage, received his diploma according to whatever choice he had made, and had a chance for a photo before walking off.  It was nice that time was left for this so families had a chance to get a picture of their child before they were suddenly off the stage.

Our kids were the very last ones since it was done in alphabetical order and when ds was called up I gave him a big hug before dh gave him the diploma.  Who cares if 500 people are watching?  It’s not just a piece of paper, but it represents ten years of our life as homeschoolers, with all of the fun, trips, togetherness that has been part of that time.  Though most parents did, I couldn’t hand over a diploma without at least a big hug!

Then we stayed on the stage after ds16 exited to wait for ds15 to come onstage, and dh and I hugged her and then I gave her the diploma. After having the picture with Abraham Lincoln smiling beside us, the organizer called ds16 back on stage so we could have a picture with both of them together.  It was very thoughtful of her.

 

Then the graduates were all called back on to the stage, briefly addressed, and threw their caps!

Something I really appreciated about this ceremony is that the emphasis was placed on recognizing each student for who they were and what they accomplished.  I remember my graduation being boring, with lots of speeches and a few awards for the select few, which left everyone else feeling ‘less than’.  But in this case, no one was compared to anyone else. And there were just two speeches, each only ten minutes long, and each very interesting.

We thought we’d be able to get an informal family photo since we were all there and we had a grandparent available to take a picture. But the battery died after taking just one, which wasn’t a good one.  But I’ll post it here for a day or two – I think my kids will object to it staying up longer than that!  (As one said to me, “The people who read your blog will think your children are the ugliest in the world!”  🙄 No, they’ll just think we’re a normal family in which all eleven people aren’t perfectly lined up and smiling at the exact same moment!)

We followed the ceremony with a barbeque for family and a couple of dd’s friends once we got back home.  Our parents told us then how impressed they were with the ceremony, and said it was beautiful and special.  Dh also appreciated that I had made the effort to have the kids participate – it really was a very nice way to note their accomplishment, and the kids themselves thanked me very much and said they enjoyed it very much.

So it’s now official – I have two homeschooled children who have graduated from high school!  We did it!!!

Avivah

Categories: Graduation

Why is graduation a big deal?

June 3, 2010 Leave a comment

>>I’m curious why the graduation ceremony is such a big deal in your family? I was homeschooled one year and because of that, got my diploma through North Atlantic Regional Schools, which gave me credit for my homeschooled years plus my schooled years. There was a graduation, but I never bothered to go, and don’t feel I missed out in the slightest. School graduations I sort of get the point of, because you’re saying goodbye to classmates and friends who you learned with for 4 years or longer and going your separate ways, but for a homeschooled kid?  This isn’t meant as a criticism in any way, I just am not able to wrap my head around the whole idea of a graduation being a big deal.<<

Well, we’re not participating in the graduation as a cost-cutting measure, that’s for sure! 😆

My view of graduations is that they are to mark the academic accomplishment of reaching a particular goal (eg, 8th grade, high school, Bachelors, Masters, etc), not to say goodbye to friends.  That’s what graduation parties are for!  None of us (me or my friends way back in high school) ever thought of the official graduation ceremony as anything social.

So I see several reasons to participate in this particular graduation ceremony for my oldest two children.  One is that my kids have accomplished what every other graduating senior has and they deserve to be acknowledged for that.  Their education isn’t less valuable or noteworthy because it took place at home, and though they won’t value what they’ve done more or less because of the official ceremony, others will.  Actually, maybe seeing the values others place on it will positively affect their view of themselves; I don’t know.

Children don’t complete their education in a void.  My inlaws are wonderful people but have not been encouraging or supportive of home education, and because my fil was a teacher, it’s been particularly challenging for him to understand my more relaxed and integrated approach.  They’ve been concerned our children wouldn’t get a good education or be prepared for life, because homeschooling was so foreign a concept to them.  When we told them about the graduation, they were thrilled – there was finally something they recognized and valued.  It’s the first educational thing we’ve shared with them in all these years that they feel good about.

I could talk until I’m blue in the face about all the kids have done and accomplished over the years and it would be meaningless to them – I just wouldn’t be speaking their language.  The quality of my children’s education hasn’t been changed by having an official graduation ceremony, but it’s being marked in a way that my inlaws understand.  So in large part we’re doing this because it’s important to the grandparents, and by extension, positively affects their perception of their grandchildren and their abilities.  And even for parents who are strongly supportive (like my mother), it gives them a chance to have additional joy and pride in their grandchild/ren.

But I’m not doing it just to make grandparents happy – while it’s a factor, it’s not the only factor.  The ceremony will be in historic Gettysburg and it will be a bit different than the typical graduation.  I think it will be enjoyable and a nice memory to look back on!

My dd13 has said she doesn’t think she wants a ceremony like this, and I told her that’s fine.  There are many ways to commemorate a special event, and when we get to that stage, we’ll discuss with her what she would like.

Avivah

Categories: Graduation, home education

Graduation gown mishaps

June 2, 2010 1 comment

Months ago I received an email from my umbrella group notifying me that there was a 10% group discount available for purchases made before a certain date through a graduation supply company that they made arrangements with.  I right away sat down to prepare my order, but decided to order everything at once (including having the diploma professionally printed, which I thought I needed the completed transcripts for) rather than make two separate orders.  After getting the transcripts finished just a few weeks ago, I learned that I could have placed the entire order months ago without the transcript.  So I missed that chance for saving.

No problem, so I’ll pay a little more, I figured – the main thing is to have what you need when you need it. Several weeks ago I placed my order at full price and ensured that the gowns/caps/diplomas would all arrive at least two weeks before the official graduation date.  But time was passing and it didn’t come.  I had wanted to make a change to my order but figured it was too late (I was sure it had been shipped already), and finally called to find out what was happening. And it’s a good thing I did.

I was informed that my order hadn’t been shipped and wouldn’t be shipped because my credit card didn’t go through, and they left a message for me three weeks earlier and were waiting for me to get back to them.  Oh, dear. Picking up my phone messages is seriously a weak point of mine.  If I do it once a week it’s a lot.  Anyway, I checked the messages and a family member apparently had listened to it, but not told me about it.  🙄

By the way, I asked dh (who took over dealing with the finances several months ago) what was going on with the credit care because this was the second time this happened in three weeks, and it’s never in all these years happened before.  He said he thinks the the security setting was changed.  This was kind of frustrating since there was an ample balance and once I placed the order, thought all of this was taken care of well in advance, but instead ended up seriously scrambling to get this all taken care of.  But since that’s what happened, it’s clearly what was meant to happen.

Back to the order.  Since someone had a graduation gown that I could borrow for dd, I cancelled her cap and gown, figuring I would save on that, then paid an extra fee to have rush service so it would get here in time.  (It’s supposed to arrive Thursday, which is cutting it way too close to comfort for me since the graduation is on Sunday.)

Then I went to pick up the gown that I was offered on loan, and learned that a master’s graduation gown has different sleeves than the regular gowns.  Dd15 wasn’t happy at all with it, even though I told her I could pin it and the difference wouldn’t be noticeable.  So today (3 days before the graduation), I went searching for a used graduation gown, since there’s no time to buy a new one and have it arrive on time.  The thrift store ironically had exactly the color and size she wanted (royal blue), but we don’t have a cap to match it and there’s no time to order it.  There was also a master’s black gown in her size (which we do have a cap to match), and I told her if I bought it, I’d be able to cut the sleeves and make them look just like the regular gowns, but she didn’t like the material.

Then I found someone on Craig’s List who was selling a black gown.  It was a size bigger than what we needed but at this point I couldn’t be choosy!  I spent an hour today driving to pick it up, and since I’m feeling tight for time, was quite relieved when dd said it didn’t need to be hemmed even though it’s a little long – she noticed on the website it said that if you prefer a longer gown, to just buy one size up, so she felt comfortable with the way it fitted her. I really didn’t want to have to deal with hemming it at this point!

So in the end, I’ve had some excitement with getting this gown, and despite that haven’t saved much even after canceling the original gown order.  Once I factor in the rush shipping fee, the money spent to buy it used, and the gas getting there and back, I pretty much come out even.  But the main thing is that I got a suitable gown for her – and I’m looking forward to having the rest of the order arrive tomorrow!

Avivah

Categories: Graduation

Putting together high school transcripts

May 11, 2010 4 comments

A couple of nights ago I suddenly realized that I needed to immediately complete the transcripts for my two high schoolers who are graduating in a month.  I’m ordering the diploma from a printing service because even though it’s lots more expensive than getting a standard one, it will look so much more professional and I’m also ordering a matching leather case for it to be presented in.  A diploma can only be granted by a legitimate administrator of established schools, including parents who are extended this status under compliance to state law regarding homeschooling.

So obviously a printing service can’t grant you a diploma (unless it’s one of the fake diploma mills that will give you the piece of paper you want – for a price), and this particular company will  only accept orders from legitimate sources.  Part of how they ascertain that is that they require your child’s transcripts before they’ll print your diploma for you.   I like that they’re being responsible and am happy to send them our official transcripts.  It’s just that I thought putting the transcripts together was for the far off future back in the winter when I realized we’d be graduating the kids early this year, and the far off date is already upon me!

You know how you can look at the date and not mentally correlate the date to an event?  Well, that’s what I was doing.  I know that they’re graduating on June 6, but I wasn’t mentally connecting it with needing to have my paperwork finished by now.  But I suddenly realized I have to order the diplomas (and gowns) with enough time that they arrive in time for the ceremony, and I can’t do that without their completed transcripts!

Yikes, was I feeling pressured, figuring out what official titles for their classes were, credit hours, state requirements!  Fortunately I have all the info organized as to what they’ve done educationally over the last years so it was mostly a matter of officially filling in the blanks, once I figured out what the format needed to be, how to compute credit hours, how many credits were needed in our state to graduate, etc.

I’m getting close to having them completed – I still have to compute their GPAs, and I’m finding a minor formatting issue annoying because it’s affecting some of the spacing so my dh will have to see if he can help me figure that out when he gets home.  But I feel so relieved to be finishing it so I can get this out of the way – I’m pretty good at paperwork and technical details but what  I enjoy about it is having it finished!

I’ve been so busy with putting together the Torah Home Education Conference, researching options for the two oldest kids for next year, trips I’m arranging for our homeschool group, and trying not to neglect my other kids and responsibilities, that I haven’t had much time to reflect on the significance of these transcripts.  What it means is it’s the official end of homeschooling for these children and the beginning of letting them go to start their independent lives.   It’s starting to hit me that two of my kids probably will be away next year and…well, I have mixed emotions.  I’m so happy for them that they’ve grown up so well – you can’t imagine the gratitude I feel to see the the wonderful people they are.  But watching them get ready to take the next step in their lives, away from home, is  tugging at my heart.

Avivah

Categories: Graduation Tags:

Making graduation plans

February 8, 2010 6 comments

A couple of weeks ago I shared about our decision to have our 15 and 16 year graduate early.  In the last couple of weeks I’ve been pretty busy putting pieces in place for that to happen; one of the details we’ve been thinking about is whether they will participate in an official graduation ceremony.  Our homeschool umbrella program organizes a graduation every year, and it sounds like it will be a memorable and enjoyable event.  We have to register to participate by March 1, so this is a fairly immediate decision to make.  It will take place in June in historic Gettysburg, with Civil War era music being played by period reenactors, an address by ‘Abraham Lincoln’, in addition to another well-known speaker.  Definitely sounds more interesting and memorable than my high school graduation!

I broached the idea to my kids, and their response was, “Who needs a graduation?”  It’s interesting that the kind of things that people in school think homeschoolers are missing out on are very often just not that important to homeschoolers.  When you’re part of a system that constantly tells you that you need something, you begin to accept that as something that is your due, and feel deprived without it.  My kids haven’t heard how important graduations are, and they don’t feel it’s especially necessary.

But we decided that they’ll participate for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I do think it’s nice to mark this transition point for them and acknowledge all that they’ve done to reach this point.  My ds16 said he hasn’t done anything, so why make a big deal of it (this is typical for him since he tends to downplay his accomplishments).  I asked him if kids in school have done something that should be noted, and he responded, yes, because they take tests. 🙄  So while I’m not a fan of testing as proof of accomplishment, I told him if he wants tests to prove some kind of accomplishment to himself, he’ll get some tests.  The things we do to make our children happy.  😆   (I’m planning to use CLEP exams for this testing which can be used towards college credits; the kids will select the exams that match the general education requirements of the degree programs they each want to enter.)

Secondly, we have family members (read: grandparents) who value accomplishments most when they match ‘the system’.  Though I don’t determine what we do academically to impress anyone or try to validate myself, in this case I think it’s important to the relationship for the kids to have what they’ve done seen as valid by their grandparents.  The math, writing, or whatever skill building/information absorbing they’ve done is of much less significance there isn’t something official that says someone says they did it.

I don’t like it, but I understand it, and I want my children to be treated with the same appreciation they have for others who have official graduations  After hearing about the graduation plans, the grandparents are excited and now telling me how smart and well-educated our kids are.  That’s not to say they didn’t feel that before, but now they’re expressing it!  And it’s especially a pleasant thing to hear since for years concerns were expressed that the kids wouldn’t learn what they need (“you’re training them to become manual laborers”) to succeed in life.

Thirdly, I think it will be fun and a nice memory for everyone!

Along with the decision to participate in the graduation comes the less significant but more interesting decisions (for the kids) as to what color gown to order for the graduation and deciding about the tassels.  (Did you know how many tassel choices there are??  You can get one color, two colors, to match the gown, contrast with the gown, then there are different charms with different finishes….)  Then I’ll order a matching leatherette diploma holder for each of them for when they receive their diplomas at the ceremony.  If I make my purchases by April 1 there’s a discount, so naturally you know I’ll be ordering before then!

(This post is part of the Carnival of Homeschooling.)

Avivah