Public school parents and their children know there’s a lot of repetitive learning, and to a certain extent, repeating information can help children remember information, especially when they’re young. However, it seems like more repetition isn’t necessary for some kids, so can they skip a grade in homeschool? The answer is interesting because homeschool is tailored to the individual needs of that child. Thus, traditional grade levels don’t necessarily apply. If your state requires heavy oversight, there’s likely more paperwork involved. You’ll need to include this in your letter of intent and show that your student can do the work, but grade skipping is simple enough. In fact, some traditional-school parents use a year of homeschooling as an opportunity to teach two grades and then put their kids back into the system at a higher level than their age-based peer group. As a former educator, my sons have skipped grades, and I’ll explain how it works so you can make an informed decision about when and if this is the right option for your home learners.
Can homeschoolers skip a grade? Homeschool children can skip grades. Regardless of the level of oversight from the state you live in, ultimately, your child’s grade-work level is at your discretion based on their abilities. In a few areas, you might need to apply to an online homeschool to have the next grade level assigned or take additional assessments. Otherwise, it’s pretty straightforward. Your child’s grade level is based on their learning ability.
Where is Skipping a Grade in Homeschool Easy or Difficult
The area you live in will determine how much oversight is required. Skipping grades in low-regulation areas is naturally easier than in states with more oversight. I’ll give you an overview of where it’s the simplest versus where it can require more testing and extensive record keeping.
Let’s begin with the places where homeschool is the easiest. With little to no government oversight, you are freer to decide every detail of your educational curriculum. You may want to consider moving to a low-oversight area if you don’t feel the need to waste time and energy on excessive paperwork. Especially for unschoolers, this is a significant boon.
According to SheKnows, Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Texas require no notice to the district at all when you intend to homeschool. I always recommend checking with your local school district to be certain the rules haven’t undergone a recent change. Still, these eleven states are at the top of the list for easy homeschool-level skipping since they have the fewest regulatory practices.
The most district-mandated oversight list includes Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. If you live in these areas, you will need to keep better records and report on your child’s progress more stringently and regularly than you would in other areas of the country. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is more time-consuming. You’ll need to make sure you follow all the guidelines in your area carefully. For a full list of current homeschooling laws by state, click here.
When Homeschool Grade Skipping is a Problem
There are some times and places where a district might take issue with the idea of your child skipping a grade. For the most part, this has to do with mandatory testing. For example, home learners in Tennessee have to take mandatory assessments two or three times before graduating high school. If you had a fourth-grader there and tried to skip them to sixth grade, your district could question the choice if you also wanted to skip the mandatory fifth-grade skill assessment test.
In special cases like these, I recommend asking the district to allow your student to take the test. Kids who are prepared to skip the grade will almost certainly pass, and if your child does not pass, then you should reassess their readiness to skip that grade. Alternatively, you could move to a different area or request a re-test. Some students have special circumstances, or they are differently-abled. Sadly, this can lead to stress and confusion during testing, thus yielding an unusually low score for the child in question. Don’t be afraid to go to bat for your kids if you feel the circumstances warrant another look.
When Should You Skip a Grade in Homeschool
While skipping a grade in homeschool mostly consists of some (often minimal) paperwork and then learning at the next level, deciding when it’s time to do so can be a little more complicated. The first thing you want to do is get an impartial assessment of where your child is academically so you don’t give them more than they can handle. A few simple, free online tests can help. You could also have them try a quick assessment or a couple of worksheets from a pre-made online learning site. Doing this helps remove parental bias and confusion about what level of teaching the child is prepared to do this year.
The next step is to look at what is being offered in the curriculum for the level you intend to skip them into. For example, if you have a kid who is starting high school, and they have a firm grasp of subjects like pre-algebra and algebra, then, assuming their other levels are similar, they may not need the freshman year. When there are only one or two subjects they struggle with, you can always teach two different grade-levels and assign them to the ‘grade’ in school that’s best suited to their overall skill level. So long as they don’t miss out on anything crucial, there is plenty of freedom in designing a homeschool program for your child.
Before you even think about skipping a grade, you also need to look at how ready your child is for other tasks related to that learning level. Maturity matters. For some kids, skipping so many grades, they graduate and begin university at twelve or thirteen is ideal. Meanwhile, an equally advanced learner two blocks down might be capable of completing the work but utterly unprepared to make adult-level life decisions about what to major in for college at that age.
If your home learners are in the latter category, consider doing a little less work each day to avoid grade skipping and overexertion, rather than pushing them to become someone they are not. It is just as important to avoid holding them back as it is to forgo pushing them forward too quickly for their development level. Kids need time to be kids, and they’ll generally indicate to you where they are through their actions and decisions. Although it is always a balancing act to make these decisions, erring on the side of what’s best for your kids at the time is always a good move.
Not every homeschool child can or should skip grades. However, most are capable of moving ahead faster at some point. Make sure you take time to look at how they perform in all areas of development, not just test scores. Also, be aware, some homeschool accredited high school programs may have an age requirement to enroll. However, from personal experience, my son at the age of 13 was able to take a high school credit course. He just did not apply for their high school program. I did it through The American School of Correspondence.
Benefits of Skipping Grades in Homeschool
My oldest son skipped grades in homeschool and graduated at sixteen. He went on to university and has thrived due to not being held back based on his arbitrary age. Likewise, my fifteen-year-old is a junior in high school and will graduate next year at sixteen. Early college entrance is one benefit for home learners.
By graduating at a younger age, homeschool kids can intern and gain valuable work experience, which allows them to move up in their chosen field sooner than their peers of the same age. Moreover, they aren’t as likely to get bored in school and act out as a result. Instead, they can focus on their studies because they are interested, engaged, and attuned to their own learning.
Making mature decisions earlier can lead to a very fulfilling life. Additionally, joining the workforce early gives people more time to save for retirement and other large expenses like homeownership. Most of all, early graduation helps avoid problems like the ennui that tends to set in during the last year of high school. The feeling most young people have of waiting for their adult lives to finally begin is less common in homeschoolers because they have more control over the life they live.
Like homeschooling itself, skipping ahead a grade or two is the decision of the parent or guardian. For many students, the ability to progress at their own pace means being miles ahead of what public school students of equal age are learning. Moreover, it helps avoid needless repetition and boredom.
If you have a gifted child, it’s almost a necessity to move forward more quickly. Holding them back can deeply impact your child’s confidence and love of learning. Most importantly, it’s unnecessary when they learn at home.
Skipping grades is definitely one of the nicest things about a homeschool education. Kids who are allowed to learn more freely tend to develop a healthy, life-long love of education and do well later in life.