So after my practice year, recording everything we did, and completely changing my mind about my son’s grade level, I wanted to wrap it all up with a graduation celebration.
Why a graduation for “pre-kindergarten”?
The main reason I did this was because I wanted my son to feel a sense of accomplishment. But more than that, I didn’t think he completely understood what his “homeschool” was all about.
He knows he’s being homeschooled, and he even tells other people this. He understands that many kids “go to school,” and I think he has a rough sense of what school is through television and books we read. He also knows that those short, formal reading and math lessons are “school.” But what I’m sure he didn’t know is about all the other stuff:
- How he learned his letters and numbers so fast.
- The books he likes to pick out at the library.
- Our puppet shows.
- Our storytelling.
- Our nature hikes.
- His knee-high naturalist class.
- His homeschool science classes.
- His gardening efforts.
- His snake book.
- His interest in the human body.
- The solar system he made.
- Our readings and experiment about the water cycle and weather.
- Our seasonal/holiday projects.
- His interest in Beethoven, prehistoric times, and Native Americans.
- Our numerous field trips to Bear Hollow Zoo, the Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, The Field Museum, Brookfield Zoo, and the nature center on Amelia Island (just to name a few).
- His role in this household.
- Play dates and outings with other homeschoolers.
- His numerous art projects and knowledge of colors and mixing paints.
(Note: If I don’t have a link to a post on these topics yet, I plan to write them in the future.)
For a while, I had planned not to tell him that these things were “schoolish.” He loves everything, and he’s naturally curious! I didn’t want to spoil the fun. But then I realized that he should be commended for his natural curiosity, and he should know that all this cool stuff….Yay! It’s school! And I hope that because of that, commemorating the end of the year will somehow motivate him to get through the stuff that isn’t as fun like those reading and math lessons.
The second reason I wanted to do the graduation was because I wanted to showcase my son’s accomplishment’s to our family, and I hope that this will soften any concerns they may have about homeschooling.
There was also a third reason to do the graduation, but I didn’t realize it until after it was over: Having a graduation for my son and our family was the best way to get me to summarize what my son accomplished and showcase it in an interesting way. In turn, this was the best way to teach me what I should be doing for our future record keeping!
I prepared three things for the graduation:
- A progress report such as the Georgia law requires for a homeschooled child after the age of 6. (Note that this progress report is for your records only. You do not have to submit it to anyone.) This report was about six pages long (bullet lists for each subject, and I used the “course of study” list to know what to highlight).
- A 15-minute slideshow of photographs that I took of many of the workbooks, artwork, games, projects, classes and outings my son did as he worked through a typical course of study for a preschooler and kindergartener.
- A completed “pre-kindergarten” course of study certificate (For a free, blank pdf of the certificate that you can use for your own needs, click here: Completed Course of Study Certificate)
On the morning of the graduation, I put these out in our living room:
- Various projects (posters, books etc) that my son had done throughout the year.
- The portfolio or 3-ring binder with all the goodies I mentioned in my record-keeping post.
But ultimately I realized that all anyone would ever look at would be the progress report and the slideshow. So this is what I learned about my record keeping:
All I used to write the progress report was my photographs and my blog’s Table of Contents. That’s it! (UPDATE: Upon greater reflection, I realize that I do use my charts/summary on occasion to help me write blog posts, however.)
I didn’t need to consult my beloved charts or that lengthy summary I wrote every week. So was it all a waste of time? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m glad I have them because if I had to, I have plenty of evidence of our daily work. It also fills out his portfolio quite nicely, and it makes a really nice keepsake.
Will I continue using the charts and weekly journal? I’m sure I’ll use the charts. They help keep my own peace of mind since I’m not using a curriculum. As for the weekly journal, I may not be as diligent about that now that I know I probably won’t use it much, but I think I’ll try to keep it up because it, too, gives this homeschooling mama peace of mind.
You must think I’m a maniac especially in the light of the fact that in Georgia, we do not have to keep portfolios and we only need to write a progress report and keep it for our own records for three years! (Same with the standardized tests that Georgia homeschoolers are supposed to take every three years starting in the third grade.) Even if I were to put my son in public school at some point, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will ever review these materials. From what I’ve heard from other homeschoolers, schools test a child and place him/her where they think he/she should go.
Yet I do it because 1) perhaps I am a maniac, 2) it’s how my mind works – I’m a writer and organizer on paper, and I only wish my house were as organized, and 3) for me, it’s important to teach my son goal-setting and let him feel the reward of accomplishment and also show his family what he’s done. In short, it’s all about having peace of mind about this homeschooling journey.