With that added attendance comes a lot more homeschoolers’ early graduations. It’s not uncommon for homeschool children to be ahead in school, sometimes substantially, but how do they graduate early? Homeschool graduation is becoming more common thanks to the spread of information and acceptance, so understanding how your kids can get those diplomas faster is important. Especially for highly motivated and advanced students, it doesn’t make much sense to hold them back and force unnecessarily busy work when they could be excelling. There are several ways students get to graduate months or years early in homeschool. I will share them all with you. Your home learners don’t have to wait for an arbitrary age or date to graduate if they’ve done the work. One of the best things about homeschool is letting children work at their own pace. Rewarding that with milestones that are commensurate with their accomplishment level is only common sense.
How do homeschoolers graduate early? Homeschoolers graduate early by taking an accelerated curriculum. From high school credits in middle school, college credits, or CLEP tests in high school, to year-round schooling, there are several ways to accelerate your curriculum. Students may even skip or double down on grades in the younger years.
Early Advancement Strategies
Not all children graduate from homeschool early because of advanced middle and high school efforts. Sometimes young learners are too advanced for the level offered as a typical school year at their age. For example, a five-year-old who can read, who also does basic math, and knows how to write is not well suited to traditional kindergarten education. Hence, that child might skip to first grade instead.
If you follow that to its logical conclusion, then an early advanced learner doesn’t need to do anything else ahead of schedule to graduate a full year before their same-aged peers. For many kids, the first five or six years is not as challenging, and they can easily skip or double up on school years to advance faster. Although this isn’t right for every young homeschooler, skipping a grade completely is often a path to faster graduation.
It is important to note that this might be more difficult in states which require annual testing. However, any child who can prove competence in the next grade level should advance past that curriculum.
Double learning is another strategy that suits some home learners. Either by taking two levels of classes simultaneously or by moving quickly through two levels in a single school year, a student can proceed without missing any vital activities. This strategy is best suited to children who actively pursue more traditional learning on their own. There’s nothing wrong with doing more workbooks than the required minimum so long as it’s not overtaxing your homeschooler or leaving gaps in understanding for the sake of forwarding progress.
There are other ways to double down on education as well. Some homeschools offer year-round education instead of large breaks. Since school vacations aren’t mandatory, it’s acceptable to pursue year-round learning. This is especially applicable for unschoolers who do not set learning schedules, where their lives pursuing knowledge through experience and guided activities actively progress.
However, please keep in mind that a child who has no downtime and doesn’t play and relax is missing other vital lessons. They are likely to suffer more stress and may even become resistant to the learning process. Take breaks if you or your homeschooler need them.
Finally, for older students in middle school through the high school levels, there are advanced classes. A student who is twelve or thirteen and taking calculus may get a ‘junior high’ math credit, but they are also fulfilling the requirements for high school math at the same time. Likewise, high schoolers may take college classes for credit. This puts them at an advanced level and offers them the chance to gain higher education core credits.
Accelerated School Helps Homeschoolers Graduate Early
One of the simplest and most surefire ways to graduate homeschool early is by taking accelerated courses. Like accelerated courses in college, these are the paired down and advanced essentials. Some students don’t need to spend all the additional practice time on some subjects if they grasp them with less instruction and repetition.
Also known as Advanced Placement classes, these are the essential-only version of high school classes combined with testing that is typically the product of a college board to ensure the student has met the rigorous standards. Thus students can take a shorter and more challenging version of the class, finish faster and often gain college credit in the process.
Getting AP courses in high school usually means attending an online or correspondence school for at least part of a student’s curriculum. The advantage doesn’t stop at a faster pace, however. Since the student uses an outside institution for these classes, a teacher grades them. Usually, the tuition for these classes includes educational support. In some cases, a student can even graduate from an accredited school instead of homeschool if the parents prefer it, and the minimums are achieved to qualify.
Universities and colleges are not necessarily required to give college credit for these classes, but many do. Often it depends on the final test score. In short, if the child does well enough, they may get college credit and other benefits. For students who wish to attend prestigious universities, taking these classes is virtually required as enrollment depends on the student taking the highest possible levels of course work in their high school portfolio along with the numerous other standards for Ivy League and similar institutions.
The final method for early graduation is to have a student prove their competence in some classes through standardized testing. The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) offers a chance to bypass a subject by showing mastery through a test score. These tests are good for credit at three thousand colleges and more than meet the standards for any high school subject.
This means that any student can sign up for and pay to take a test to prove they deserve a college credit. If the homeschooler passes, they get a credit that can apply toward high school, college, or both depending on the situation. CLEP tests are a wonderful way to save money on college since the test is more cost-effective than buying books and paying for a full semester of class, particularly one for a subject where they already have a full understanding.
Why Graduate Early
There are many ways for a homeschooler to get ahead of schedule and graduate early. Best of all, you are not limited to pursuing a single avenue. A home learner can take classes through an accredited school such as the highly lauded American School of Correspondence, skip a grade, and CLEP test out of several subjects if they are educationally prepared for the challenge. While the accelerated path isn’t for everyone, there are distinct advantages.
Some young people know exactly who they want to be at an early age. It wouldn’t make much sense for a child who has wanted, for example, to be a doctor since they were six to spend more time in high school when they clearly qualify for graduation. Although there’s nothing wrong with taking a longer path, and some students aren’t ready to head to college at sixteen, those who can gain significant advantages.
By starting on a career path early, a student will be ahead of their peers in terms of education. If their subject of interest requires an internship, they will finish that at a younger age as well. As a result, two thirty-year-old doctors who both want a job can have vastly different applications.
It takes approximately eleven years to become a medical doctor, and even afterward, PhDs require regular recertification. The average individual, having begun their training at age eighteen or nineteen, if not older, will have completed their residency and recently become a fully certified Doctor. Meanwhile, the fifteen or sixteen-year-old high school graduate who knew what they wanted has been working in a hospital post-residency for about three years at the same age. Experience is everything when it comes to landing that dream job, and the early graduate is more experienced in the field.
Homeschool is one of the best ways to get a high-quality education. Resultantly the rule of quality over quantity often applies. A child who has mastered multiplication or algebra has no real need for more repetitive busy work to satisfy a traditional school curriculum.
While you should never push your homeschooler to learn faster than they are comfortable with, you should also avoid holding them back. Age and skill mastery can go hand in hand, but they aren’t mutually required. Let your kids show you how bright they are, and you’ll know when they’re ready to move on to a new level. Plus, a less mature graduate can always take a gap year to volunteer in their community, work a part-time job, or take core classes at the local community college before moving on to more adult pursuits.
For some parents, the idea of early graduation can be daunting but try to let go of your fears and be proud of your home learner’s accomplishments. You shouldn’t fear success but embrace it and foster confidence and maturity in younger graduates.