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Be Anything but “Normal”

In 2022, I was invited to give the commencement speech for a homeschool graduation ceremony. As we enter the last few weeks of school and another “graduation season,” I thought I’d share some excerpts from that commencement speech to encourage you in your last stretch of school, whether it’s for your student’s completion of one year of homeschooling or for all of them.

Parents, family, friends, and graduates, I can’t resist opening with this:

You know you were a homeschooler when…

* Through the years, you’ve been asked what grade you were in, and you never really knew how to answer that.

* Your school uniform consisted of slippers, sweatpants, and/or a bathrobe.

* Your “homework” was actually “home” work: mow the lawn, clean the house, put dishes away, make a meal, etc.

* A “snow day” just meant you had to shovel the driveway after you finished your school work.

* You started some type of entrepreneurial venture by the time you were 16.

* When you asked your mom why she was talking to herself she said she was having a parent-teacher conference.

* Most of your family vacations were in October or February or some other “off season” time.

* You’d be out in public at 1:00 on a Tuesday, and people either looked at you like you were playing hooky or they suspiciously asked you why you were not in school.

Maybe you can relate to some of that!

We frequently used homeschooling as a catch-all excuse for our kids. If one of them recited all the U.S. presidents in order by memory or began a verbal dissertation about the Roman-Gallic wars, we’d say, “Well, he IS homeschooled.” If one of them told a really corny joke or put on some especially awkward outfit, we’d say, “Well, he IS homeschooled.” If one of them started a scientific soliloquy with, “Fun fact! Did you know...” We’d say, “Well, she IS homeschooled.” And if one of them stuck a Cheetoh up his nose to show off that it could stay there without being held in place, we’d say, “Well, he IS homeschooled.”

Aaahhh. Fun times!

Congratulations, graduates, on your graduation from high school today. You have so much to celebrate! Not only are you well-prepared academically for this moment, you are also well-prepared socially. (If you can learn to get along with your siblings, you can get along with anyone. Am I right?) You have learned how to be self-propelled - to increasingly take ownership of your education and therefore, other areas of your life. You have learned that you don’t have to “do what everyone else is doing” to try to fit in with a public school culture and consequently, with a declining social culture. You may even be starting to realize that your parents actually sacrificed a lot for you to be homeschooled, and that they’ve put you, your education, and your moral development as their number one priority. You’ve had a priceless, first-class, and what is increasingly becoming a more highly sought-after education.

I spoke at the MACHE homeschool convention in Minneapolis a couple weeks ago, and the organizers said that a whopping 43% of the attendees (maybe 3,000?) were first-time homeschoolers. You, graduates, have behind you what an increasing number of families all over this country desire for their children - not simply an avoidance of blatant social and political agendas or an avoidance of bullies, or of safety threats, or of mandatory health protocols. You have behind you the kind of quality education, life skills training, unique opportunities, and a pouring into of your identity that most families in our country could only hope for for their children. YOU had that! You are well-equipped for whatever lies ahead.

So now, as you go forth from this place, from this moment, I’m going to give you three words of advice…

(I cut out this meaty-but-lengthy section of the commencement speech for this blog post.)

…I’m going to close with this:

When our kids were out on their own, they heard more than once that they seemed too “normal” to have been homeschooled. The people who said this to them probably meant it as a compliment, but I don’t know that it is!

What is “normal?” Status quo? Fitting in with today’s culture? Not sticking out? Not making waves?

Graduates, consider this:

Normal never took risks.

Normal never won any wars.

Normal never sparked a revival.

Normal never overcame societal or political agendas.

Normal never inspired anyone.

So graduates, whether you seem “normal” or not to the world you’re about to enter, be anything but normal. When you understand that you love and serve an extraordinary God, YOU are extraordinary. You were meant for this moment here today AND for this moment in history.

So be extraordinary.

Because after all, you WERE homeschooled.


Heavenly Father, bless each of these graduates today. Thank you for all they’ve accomplished. We celebrate them today with you! Lord, we ask you to bless them as they move forward into this next season of life. Empower them not just with confidence based on their past, Lord, but even moreso, empower them with Godfidence because of all You have yet to do through them, with them, and for them. In Jesus Name, amen.

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