I have been helping homeschooler for many years as Guilford Christian Academy and one topic that comes up often is graduation. One common question is can I graduate my student before they turn 17 or 18?
The answer I give here in Maine is that yes you can. The law states that your child can graduate at age 15 with the principal’s permission. Hmmm, well since we are the principal that permission lies on us. In other states this may not be the case, you would have to check your laws, HSLDA is a good place to start. There you will find the laws for every state in the country and the requirements are spelled out clearly.
Why would you want to graduate them early you ask?
There are several reasons why you might want to do this, if your child has completed the goals you have set for them in order to graduate, then they can move onto college courses and start to get some of those out of the way. There are also dual enrollment options that differ in each state, for more information on how this can work for your high schooler please check your state laws.
In our case, with our first child, there were requirements for graduation and he had completed everything except his fourth year of English. There were local businessmen knocking on our door every day looking to see if he could work for them on that day. There would be several different people and it was usually the one that got there first that won. So, in order for him to start working full time we had him take an Adult Ed English course and upon completion we graduated him and he has done great ever since.
The Age for High School Graduation Varies
Each student and family has different needs, these options are not for everyone. I know of some students that did not feel they were ready to graduate and have continued with their schooling even up to the age of 20. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you are choosing not to graduate them because you feel that you have done an inadequate job or that you want to make sure they have done absolutely every course there is for high school. In life there are times when things are learned as they are needed. I have found that until something is applied the student may not feel the need to really know the subject, math is a common subject for this. Once they get out in the community and have a job or volunteer for something where math is really needed (fractions for example) they may not really “learn” them well until it is an applied concept. “Why do I really need to know Algebra?”, is a question that is used often by students in this scenario. They may not use Algebra in everyday life, but if they decide to get a job as an EMT one of the prerequisites is Algebra 1, in which case they may need to take a course before they can get into the college program.
Individualize your requirements for graduation.
Each child will have a different need for certain subjects depending on what they desire to pursue for a career. Keep that in mind when setting your reasonable, challenging goals for their high school curriculum. You may have a child that is not able to go to college and they will just be completing standard courses for graduation. You may have a special needs student that will have a different course of study for graduation. If your student wants to be a veterinarian then your goals are going to include some sciences with labs and maths. Keep in mind that in the beginning of the high school years your students may have one goal and by the third year it may change, so a well rounded course of study is most beneficial. When in doubt you can always go to your local school or check online, there are many places that will give you an idea of what a student should be learning and when, for example World Book has a typical course of study. According to HSLDA’s website the following would be a typical high school program:
- 4 years of English
- 2–4 years of Math
- 2–4 years of Science
- 2–4 years of History
- at least 2 years of a Foreign Language
For a typical college prep high school program HSLDA, again, recommends the following:
|Subject||Suggested Credits||Possible Courses|
|English||4 credits||Composition, American Lit, World Lit, British Lit, Rhetoric, Creative Writing, Speech, Journalism, etc. Consider AP courses|
|Math||4 credits||Algebra 1&2, Geometry, Trig, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, AP Calculus|
|History||3-4 credits||Essentials: World History, American History, American Government Consider: Economics, Geography, Constitutional Law, and AP courses|
|Science||3-4 credits||Physical Science, General Science, Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics Consider AP courses|
|Foreign Language||2-4 credits||French, Spanish, Latin, German, Russian, etc. (at least two years of the same language are preferred)|
|P.E.||1-2 credits||Physical education—many options are available|
|Fine Arts||1-2 credits||Art, Music, Drama, Photography, etc.|
|Electives||4 credits||Practical Arts, Life Skills, Computer Skills, Bible, Church History, etc.|
Total Credits: 24-28 credits
Donna Young provides some free forms for designing your high school course of study that will be very helpful to some, you can find them here:
There are other reasons that a student might want or need to graduate early, please share your thoughts in the comments of this post.
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