I’ve almost completed my first year of homeschooling my 5-year-old. It was very challenging and, yet, I’m considering homeschooling my 8-year-old next year as well. As I look into the homeschool future of both my children, I can’t help but wonder how do homeschoolers graduate?
The most important thing you need to know is the homeschool laws governing your particular state, as they are not all the same across the board. A good place to start is by checking with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) to find out what the laws of your state are regarding homeschooling. The HSLDA website will direct you to your state’s homeschool support page, which will give you all the information you need.
However, for the most part, most states don’t have a lot of guidelines for graduating your child. They leave a lot of it up to the parent to decide. Then the parent usually considers what their child wants to do as far as a career and the education it will take to accomplish that goal. Then they look up the requirements put forth by the college or university and make sure their child is able to meet them. Let’s take a look at some examples by studying the state where I reside – Florida.
How Homeschoolers Graduate in Florida
According to the HSLDA website, there are three homeschool options for homeschooling parents in Florida.
1. Homeschooling under the homeschool statute.
- You must file a notice of intent to homeschool with the county superintendent one time only.
- You must maintain a portfolio that must include:
- a log of educational activities
- samples of writings, worksheets, workbooks, creative materials, etc., used by the student
- You must evaluate your student annually.
- You must file a notice of termination when your child completes their program, you move out of state, or you wish to discontinue homeschooling your child.
2. Homeschooling under a private school umbrella program (which is what my child does).
When registering under an umbrella program, the parent chooses to have a private school oversee their homeschool program. This is not necessarily a building but an organization or group that has formed an umbrella school and registers it with the state where they reside.
3. Homeschooling with a private tutor.
- You must choose a private tutor to teach your child, and that instructor must have a valid Florida certificate to teach the specific subjects or grades your student is learning.
- You must keep records.
- You must provide the required days of instruction which is 180 days of school instruction per year.
For homeschoolers in Florida, with the exception of number three, teachers do not have to be certified, there are no state-mandated subjects the children need to complete, no immunization requirements, and children only need to attend school between the ages of six and sixteen.
There are also no graduation requirements that homeschoolers have to adhere to but to be assured their children are learning things that will help them continue their education and develop the career path of their choice, it is a good thing to look into the graduation requirements of your state. Homeschool.com offers a list of each state’s graduation requirements that your children would have to adhere to if they were in the public school system.
However, there are a few states who do have mandated requirements to graduate high school. Those are Pennsylvania, New York, and North Dakota.
How Homeschoolers Graduate in North Dakota
According to the HSLDA website, North Dakota has two options for homeschooling. They are:
1. Homeschooling under the home education law
- The teacher must have the required qualifications: a high school diploma or GED.
- You must file a yearly statement of intent, meaning you file a statement with the superintendent of the public school district where you live that you are planning to homeschool.
- You must provide proof of required days and hours of instruction, which in North Dakota must be at least four hours of instruction per school day for a minimum of 175 days of each year.
- You must teach the required subjects, which are English, mathematics, social studies, science, physical education, and health. All of these classes also have requirements listed on the website for your state.
For high school, your child must have English, mathematics, science (biology and chemistry), social studies, physical education, and a foreign language or fine arts.
- You must keep school records.
- Grades four, six, eight, and ten require standardized achievement tests.
2. Homeschooling as a private school
- The teacher must be certified to teach in North Dakota.
- The teacher must teach the same required subjects during the same number of hours and days per year as option one.
- You must file a yearly statement of intent.
The mandatory ages children must be in school are seven to sixteen, teachers do have to be qualified, children do need to be immunized, and there are mandated subjects and assessment requirements. However, there are exceptions to the assessment requirements.
All students who wish to graduate in North Dakota need to adhere to these requirements.
When to Start Preparing for Graduation and Beyond
Once your child enters the ninth grade, it is good to have a plan for their final high school years. If you know your child wants to attend a college or university, then find out what the requirements are for getting a high school diploma and transcripts in your state and start keeping records.
For most universities, you will need to get high school transcripts for your child. You can find templates online such as the example below from homeschool.com, to help keep your records up to date and in order. The transcript will need to have a record of every subject and credit your child has taken from ninth through twelfth grades. This will be turned in to the local high school when requesting an official high school transcript for college.
You will also need to have the results from your child’s SAT and ACT scores.
Tips to Have Ready
- Prepare a plan for the four years of high school.
- During the tenth grade, have your child take their PSAT.
- If your state has dual enrollment, consider enrolling your child in college courses part-time or have your child take the CLEP tests.
- Start practicing for a college admissions essay.
- During the eleventh grade, take the SAT or ACT.
- Also, during eleventh grade, start touring college campuses.
- Begin applying for scholarships or financial aid.
- During the twelfth grade, finalize the SAT/ACT scores.
- Start submitting college applications.
Sample College Requirements for Homeschoolers
The first school I researched was Daytona State College in Daytona Beach, Florida.
If a homeschooler in Daytona Beach, Florida, wanted to attend Daytona State College, they would need very little to apply. They would need to submit a homeschool verification statement and the standardized tests required of all students.
If a homeschooler wanted to attend the University of Florida, the requirements are much stricter.
As you can see, the requirements to attend the University of Florida are held to the same standards as those graduating from a public high school. Yet still, it is possible. The homeschool student would need to have the following academic credits.
Sixteen academic units, according to the following:
- Four years of English (with substantial writing)
- Four years of Mathematics (including Algebra 1, Formal Geometry, and Algebra 2)
- Three years of Natural Science (two units must include a laboratory)
- Three years of Social Sciences
- Two years of a foreign language (must be sequential)
They would also need to have a GPA of 2.0 and the required SAT and/or ACT tests.
Now that you know how to graduate your homeschooler education-wise, the only thing left to do is have a graduation ceremony. As it is for kids who attend a public high school, graduation is a very important part of their lives. It signifies the passage from childhood into the adult world and all the responsibilities and freedom that come along with it. It’s as if they have crossed the threshold and are entering a new life filled with promise and opportunities. So what can you do to celebrate your homeschooler’s achievement?
How to Hold a Graduation Ceremony for Homeschoolers
First, check with your statewide homeschool convention group to see if they hold a traditional graduation event for homeschoolers. Usually, if they do, the graduates will have the opportunity to walk across the stage and accept their well-earned diplomas like all high school graduates. They will even receive a cap and gown!
Before walking the stage, though, make sure to schedule a graduation photo shoot with a school photographer. Most school photographers are in the habit of arranging photoshoots with homeschool groups and often give a group discount.
And don’t forget to send out invitations to the graduation and graduation party. You can also get a diploma template to print out from your umbrella school or online and you’re all set!
Graduation is such an exciting time; a rite of passage that deserves to be celebrated. So let the ceremonies begin!