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Marking Milestones- End of school year question (something ds asked)...

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

How do you mark the end of the school year?  What if it is a "big" year [ie- pk4, k, 5th, 8th, or 12th] coming to a close?

 

Public schools in our area go k-5, 6-8, 9-12.  Most private schools do pre-k and 8th.  Some also do k and 5th.  Ds is in 5th now (homeschooled), Dd is in 8th (private school).  Dd will have a big end of year graduation celebration at school as an 8th grader.  Her school does graduation ceremonies only for pk4 and 8th grade.  Ds has decided he would like to do some kind of 5th grade graduation, especially since we will have family visiting for graduation and/or dd's confirmation.  I think it isn't a bad idea to validate his experience and how far he has come in some way. I also feel like it is important for both kids to see that we are marking milestones in both their lives.

 

So any suggestions based on how you do things in your household/school?

post #2 of 4

We go out to lunch; Dylan's pick.  We started when he was in public school and continued the tradition when we switched to home schooling.  I also measure his height and we look back at what he has learned since last Sept.  I used to also take down his weight but we no longer have a scale.

post #3 of 4

In our homeschooling paradigm there's no passage or "completion" to celebrate. We don't go by grade levels, we use little in the way of graded curriculum, and our learning flows organically year-round and with continuity from year to year. So a grade-passing or graduation celebration would seem really artificial and weird to us. We don't do anything of the sort. We sometimes celebrate Not Back to School Day with fellow homeschoolers because life in our community really does change when 95% of kids return to school, and we like to enjoy the freedom and the fact that we now have the run of the place. But we don't celebrate the end of other kids' school years.

 

That's not to say we don't do thing that celebrate and validate the learning the kids have done. How? Well, first off, I keep a number of blogs. I have a public one for general family learning-and-living stuff, and I have a private blog with and for each of my children to keep track of their learning. My kids participate in writing about their accomplishments, and they read what I write about their learning. We post photos, videos and such. Gradually the blogs become portfolios, and celebrations of their learning. Every once in a while I have a year's worth of family blog archives professionally printed into hardcover book format. We have four of these volumes now (the first covered several years) and they are definitely well-loved by the kids, who go back and thumb through them over and over with a sense of nostalgia but also an appreciation for the landmarks those things represent. The landmarks weren't always evident as such at the time, but looking back, they can see where shifts and closures took place.

 

I've also recently been using Apple Publishing to commemorate specific projects. As a Mac user I love their templates, but there are plenty of other memory book services out there. For instance, last year dd9 was involved in a monthly series of art workshops focused on art derived from and representing community, with a group of local homeschoolers. The kids got to know each other really well, and the workshops culminated in an exhibit in a tiny local gallery. I pulled together scans of the artwork with photos of the kids at work and created a book to celebrate the whole project. I originally intended it just as a thank-you gift for the art teacher, but the kids and families fell in love with it too and we all ordered copies. It ended up being a sort of unofficial "Homeschooling Group Yearbook." 

 

Then there are the celebrations that come naturally as part of my kids interests and activities: the final swim class or gymnastics class where skills and reports are shared with parents, the violin recitals, the aikido colour belt tests. And we have occasionally set academic goals as well, for fun and to celebrate work done: finishing that 100th independently-read book, arriving at the present in our chronological study of Canadian history, finishing the Singapore Math Primary curriculum. Our celebrations are not over-the-top -- tea and cookies at a local café, or a mid-day movie with popcorn, a trip to the bookstore with a $20 gift certificate to spend, that sort of thing.

 

As for the real, momentous, uncontrived passages...

 

My eldest left home at 17 to study music in a big city where she could get the training she needed. Her "graduation" celebration as she moved on from home-based learning to independent life was a full-length recital for the community, offered as a fund-raiser for an arts organization she had benefitted from over the years. The whole town came out and it was an amazing send-off.

 

I have a friend who held a celebration for her departing homeschooler which was just a big potluck party at a community hall, where the suggestion was the everyone bring a (used, well-loved) kitchen gadget or houseware to help launch her into living independently in an apartment. People brought amazing gifts, most of them with stories behind them and ten years later T. still uses those items with reverence and appreciation for the history behind them: this is the wooden spoon carved by my basketball coach's Russian father-in-law, this is the oat flaker that made porridge for my two best friends and I when I slept over at their house when we were kids. 

 

Miranda

post #4 of 4

Well, part of the issue we don't follow a traditional calendar.  Our 'school year' is mostly Spring, Summer and Fall tri-mesters with time off from Thanksgiving to MLK day (approx) and a week or 2 for spring break and a couple weeks in summer.  We also partially unschool.  AND I have an asynchronous kiddo.

 

We really don't celebrate the 'end of school' as much as we celebrate accomplishments.  Kiddo is enrolled in a rigorous online program for STEM classes, when he completes a class sometimes we will go for a special dinner.  If kiddo has a great swim meet, we may do something together etc.

 

I guess if I had one homeschool and one traditional school kid our house might have issues but part of the joy of homeschooling is being able to do things just a little bit differently.

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