It's that time of year again and graduates are graduating... We are going to my cousin's graduation from Carmel High this evening. The small towns in our area are one by one serving up Alma Mater heraldry to mark their students out for future success. We are not an official part of this process because we homeschool. But that didn't stop us from participating in our own Advancement Ceremony last Friday evening. It was beautiful.
My family is actively involved in a special support group specifically for the homeschool family. We call ourselves the Monterey Bay Christian Homeschool Group, or MBCHS. It gives me an opportunity to involve my kids with other like-minded Christians in activities and education. We meet together a few times a month for play groups at the park, and once a month we have a meeting set aside for parents only where topics of relevance are discussed. I really enjoy it. So do my kids!
The Advancement Ceremony is the biggest production our humble group presents. Unlike public or even private schools our numbers are so small that we can really make the event personal. We began the evening with a dinner and opportunity to socialize with other participating families. There were about 25 families, all with varying aged children in differing grades. It is great to have this multi-generational contact for my children. I appreciate that Hannah and Bethany have friends from several age brackets, and since they are not pigeon-holed into a specific grade they are much freer to act according to their personal desires and not the "peer group" mentality of the age.
After dinner the primary program began and each child was given an invitation to present something of their choice to the families. Hannah and Bethany sang When You Believe (including the Hebrew stanza) from the movie Prince of Egypt. It was such a safe environment. Here, in front of families and children they know and care about there was no stage fright or fear of ridicule. They sang their little hearts out and received thunderous applause (as did every other student participating!). It took an hour for the children to each address their turn and we were delighted with renditions of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to words from our founding fathers. Then the certificates were awarded.
This is my favorite part! You see I have complete control over my homeschool and what grade/mark of achievement my child earns. I don't have to worry about whether they finished all the "right" workbooks before the cut off date. I am free to acknowledge the work and success they made, individually, this past year. I chose to have their certificates acknowledge the completion of the school year rather than the completion of a grade. In future years I might choose differently - it's up to me though! So Hannah and Bethany both received their certificate with a place for Teacher and Principle (myself and Christopher) to sign. The girls were so proud!
I love homeschool. I love the flexibility and control it offers me. I love the way my children are taught as individuals and not as a group. I enjoy the complete understanding I have of their academic strengths and weaknesses... no parent-teacher conferences for me! Mostly I am at peace knowing I am providing the best environment for my children to learn and grow safely. I certainly can not protect them from everything. I don't want to! There are lessons they will learn in hard mistakes throughout their life. But I can keep them from being teased viciously, bullied unmercifully, or even idolized inappropriately. These social wounds have no "value" in teaching small kids about "real life". I don't intend to put my children through them.