One of the most appealing parts of homeschooling is the flexibility it affords. Rather than following the traditional structure of public education, the schooling curriculum can be tailored to the individual student’s needs and accommodate a family’s unique situation. Even so, a commonly asked question is this – how can homeschoolers skip a grade?
Homeschooling does not need to be bound by a linear progression of grades -it is flexible, and grades can be adjusted as needed. Each child can progress at a pace that is right for them individually. Parents who homeschool have the freedom to advance or change the curriculum as they see fit.
For example, a twelve-year-old who does well in most subjects but struggles with writing could follow a seventh-grade curriculum for all other subjects while using a fifth-grade English program.
Sound interesting? Let’s dive into the subject of homeschooling further below.
How to Know if You Should Skip a Grade
Gifted children may be bored by the coursework in the grade for their age group and need a challenge. A student may want to skip ahead to graduate early or pursue extracurricular activities. There are many reasons for skipping a grade in homeschooling, all of them valid.
Only the educator and student can determine whether skipping a grade is an appropriate course of action.
For parents homeschooling multiple children, using the same curriculum for two children close in age can save time, money, and sanity.
For example, a homeschooled nine-year-old gifted in writing and reading but more average at STEM could take ninth-grade vocabulary, seventh-grade history, and fifth-grade math all during the same school year.
Thankfully, within the bounds of homeschooling, it’s fairly easy to give more advanced coursework a try and shift back to the lower grade if the student is struggling.
Can You Skip Any Grades?
Skipping a grade before high school is fine. Some states require homeschooling families to submit high school transcripts for their students. These are required for college applications, making skipping a year of high school more difficult than in the lower grades.
Checking state policies about homeschooling and inquiring about any colleges you’re interested in is a good idea when considering whether to skip high school.
That being said, skipping grades in high school or even skipping high school entirely by taking the high school equivalency test (GED) is possible. Please note that some negative connotations associated with the GED may become an issue in collegiate-level education and/or job searches.
How Many Grade Levels Can You Skip?
It is possible to skip as many grades as the parents and students feel capable of. However, always weigh the potential loss of significant social and emotional developmental milestones by completing their education at such a young age into the equation before making a final decision.
It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons before deciding to have a student skip one or more grades.
Unfortunately, there are always stories of homeschooled child geniuses who graduated from college before turning eighteen, which could pressure parents to rush their children through education.
When Can You Skip a Grade?
Skipping a grade is possible whenever the parents determine it is the right course of action. Many homeschool families do not follow the typical American school year, choosing instead to do school year-round rather than September-May with a three-month break in the summer.
For example, if a student finishes their second-grade work by December, it’s perfectly acceptable to have them move on to third-grade work, which they may finish before summer, or do half in the spring and half the following fall.
For those who choose this type of schedule, skipping a grade is even simpler since there isn’t a possibility of a grade year getting “cut in half” by the summer break.
For example, one of our boys finished their second-grade coursework (Saxon math 2) in the middle of the traditional school year when he was a “second grader.” He’s moved to level 3 and is breezing through that, too. He considers himself a second grader who happens to be doing level 3 math and grammar.
We could probably call him a third-grader at this point, but he’s happy identifying as a second-grader. So we’ll keep calling him that until he’s ready to move on calling himself a third-grader.
When Should You Not Skip a Grade?
If a child is not academically ready, trying to push them to a higher level is likely to do more harm than good. Even if they could succeed at a higher level, skipping a grade may not be in their best interest.
Perhaps they are involved in a co-op and have good friends in the class for their current grade, and moving to the next grade would leave them isolated.
Reasons for skipping or not skipping a grade are as diverse as individual students are. The most important thing is to consider all dimensions of the situation before deciding and to be willing to return to the original grade if it becomes clear that the advancement is not working out.
Remember that homeschooling is about flexibility and meeting a student’s unique needs. Homeschooling makes it quite easy for a student to skip a grade if this is the best course of action for them.
At the same time, it’s also great that a homeschooled student who needs to repeat a particular grade, even just for one subject, can do so easily without the academic or social stigma of a traditional school environment.
Common Reasons to Skip a Grade in Homeschool
There are many reasons to skip a grade in homeschool.
- Providing a challenge for a gifted student
- Facilitating early graduation
- Extracurricular activities
- Ease of schooling multiple students
- Social opportunities
Please note that you can skip a child back in homeschool without problems. This would be more common if you recognize an educational gap that needs filling or if your child has learning differences that mean you need to adjust the educational pace at home.
Common Reasons Not to Skip a Grade
Just because you can skip a grade doesn’t mean you should. Here are some reasons not to skip ahead.
- Students not academically ready
- Social maturity
- Emotional maturity
- Extracurricular activities
- Social opportunities
For guidance on choosing curriculum, scheduling coursework, and creating a homeschool program to help a student thrive, The Well-Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise, is a great resource. You can click here to see its current best pricing on Amazon. If you’re going to homeschool, it’s worth having in your at-home library.
This book provides a comprehensive guide to classical-model homeschooling for every grade and subject, with information on many different curricula.
Many families who choose to homeschool are excited about the chance for greater flexibility in terms of grade level than traditional schooling affords. This flexibility can involve having a student skip one grade, multiple grades, or even take several grades simultaneously.
At the same time, homeschooling isn’t just about pushing children from one grade to the next to graduate as early as possible. Parents should also consider social and emotional well-being when considering whether to skip a grade.
As with other aspects of homeschooling, flexibility, patience, and a willingness to admit wrongdoing and learn from mistakes are key when navigating the complexities of skipping grades.
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
In retrospect, homeschooling doesn’t need to strictly adhere to a linear progression of grades – it’s much more flexible. Each child can progress at a pace that is right for them individually, and parents have complete freedom to change the curriculum as they see fit.
There are many reasons for skipping a grade – gifted children may be bored by the coursework in the grade for their age group and need a challenge. Or, it can be done to allow a student to graduate early or pursue opportunities for extracurricular activities.
Learning from your own experience is important, but learning from others is also smart. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homeschoolers.
- Bauer, Susan, and Wise, Jessie. The Well-Trained Mind. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2009.
- Richman, Howard, and Susan. “To Skip or Not to Skip,” Practical Homeschooling 36 (2000). https://www.home-school.com/Articles/to-skip-or-not-to-skip.php.