By Dinah Whitton
Celebrating the milestones of your homeschooling students
The pomp and circumstance that comes with graduating can be a nostalgic moment for any parent. In particular, graduating from high school is a significant milestone to be applauded. What of ‘graduating’ from elementary and starting middle school though? Surely, there is something to be said about a student making the leap to high school, but is there a diploma for that too?
Both public and private schools conduct graduation ceremonies for students going into middle school and high school. Invitations are sent out, programs are created and diplomas are presented to these anxious tweens and teens with their proud parents looking on.
Some schools even have a graduation ceremony for kindergarten since it is also considered a significant point in their academic career. While there is a notable difference from kindergarten to grade 1, issuing a diploma does not indicate the province’s approval and/or the child’s academic readiness for the next level. However, it is usually done to build on self-esteem and an attempt to encourage a love of learning.
Provincially granted diplomas have specific requirements
Whether your child has been homeschooled from the beginning or you started somewhere in between, graduating is an event worthy of celebration. However, take caution in putting a strong emphasis on receiving an official diploma. If a student successfully completes the required high school credits as set forth by the Ministry of Education, a provincial diploma is granted. This is not the case for elementary school. The various ministries that govern education in each province and territory only issue diplomas to high school students. The ministry sets a particular amount of credits to be achieved by each student and issues a provincial diploma accordingly. Ultimately that means elementary schools that provide diplomas are doing so on their own accord. Some schools go to great lengths to make graduation special for their students; but this does not reflect actual academic success. On the contrary, these graduations are simply traditions that signify a transition from one grade to the next. Struggling students often still graduate and have an Independent Education Plan (IEP) and/or sent to specific high schools for the academically challenged.
Ceremonial traditions are important for homeschool students
These ceremonial traditions are often confidence boosters for students and reassurance to parents that their children are learning. Graduations are basically a culmination of report cards and parent teacher meetings. When children are absent from their parents for up to 6 hours a day, there needs to be something quantifiable to show their progress. Throughout the school year, parents receive feedback from teachers, and after a certain amount of time they naturally progress to the next level, which is signified by some form of ceremony. Graduations have become a cultural norm and many parents assume it means their child is ready for the next level. Academic success should go beyond ceremonial traditions and focus on helping students to achieve their maximum potential. Merely meeting grade level standards could put limitations on some students and discourage parents.
Home educators have a distinct advantage of working with their children daily and adjusting the curriculum where needed to meet their goals. While there is nothing wrong with having your own graduation, the focus should be on the work that your student puts in to reflect their academic transition. When there is greater emphasis on the quality of work, the celebration that follows will have a much richer meaning.
To learn more about the required guidelines for a provincial diploma, click on the link below for your province or territory.
Newfoundland & Labrador: https://www.gov.nl.ca/eecd/k12/highschool/gradreq/
Nova Scotia: https://www.ednet.ns.ca/pathways-graduation