Congratulations to Isabella Stone-Dahl on her homeschool graduation! Isabella, who is 18, has always been homeschooled as have her 3 younger siblings. Isabella’s family primarily unschools. What does this look like? Isabella and her mother, April, came up with the following description of her upbringing, lifestyle and education.
When Isabella was younger, she had plenty of time and freedom to do things like play in the woods and natural areas, be around people of all ages in the greater community, and be around and participate in ceremonies. After about the age of 8, sugarbush (making maple syrup with her family) became a major activity and would be for the next 10 years, followed by rice camp (harvesting wild rice), seasonal living and work and finally reading (about age 11) and crafting among other interests. When she was 15, Isabella decided that she might want to pursue college someday and could benefit from more structure. She put together a course of self-directed study for herself primarily through the use of used textbooks and other books and materials that she acquired from book exchanges and other homeschooling families (what a resourceful young lady!) Her studies included basic math, geometry and algebra, etc., real history, geology and other sciences, social studies, language arts and composition, and sailing and navigating, to name just a few. Additionally, from the ages of 15 to 18, Isabella became certified in motor boat handling, CPR, AED (automated external defibrillation) and first aid, and scuba diving while at the same time acquiring employment as a source of monetary savings for herself.
Isabella’s mother, April, describes her unschooled approach to learning as, “When she’s ready to learn something and wants to learn it, then we guide her.” Since learning is endless, April related that she found it difficult to know when to stop homeschooling Isabella. As part of graduation, Isabella, who is a member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa (Ojibwe) Indians, also participated in a tribal ceremony where she, along with other tribal members who were graduating from high school (all public schooled), received a beautiful Honors Quilt, handmade by women from her tribe.
The question for new graduates is always, “What are your plans?” To this question Isabella responded that she does not have specific plans. She is a competent sailor and will be teaching sailing classes to children this summer. She has an interest in doing some traveling and expects to eventually go to college.
There is often some curiosity about homeschooling and how it is that parents have the right to award diplomas to their own children. Homeschools are private schools, and the law gives us the right to award diplomas the same as any other private school. Families decide what requirements must be met for graduation and award a diploma to young people who meet them. Each May at the Wisconsin Parents Association Homeschool Conference, graduating homeschoolers have the option of participating in a formal graduation ceremony. Had Isabella participated in that ceremony, the following statement would have been read, “This is in recognition of Isabella Stone-Dahl’s successful completion of homeschooling through the high school years as attested to by her parents, Isabella herself, and others who have helped and observed her reach this milestone. In honor and confirmation of this important event, her parents acknowledge her achievement before this gathered assembly.”
So, congratulations Isabella on the successful completion of the requirements of your homeschool as attested to by you and your parents!!! We wish you the best of luck!