Helping Your Child Graduate Early From High School

By Erica Loop
You can help your child graduate early.
You can help your child graduate early.

Whether your child wants to get a jump start on her career, is in a hurry to get to college or simply wants the independence that comes with graduating, finishing high school early isn't an insurmountable task. While it's likely that your teen's school district has strict requirements for graduation, learning how to hurry the process or add extra learning experiences is key to helping her complete her education earlier than her peers.

Preparing Your Child

Before you set your child on a track toward early graduation, prepare him for the -- often challenging -- journey. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics', high school ushers in a change in the amount of work that your child will do, as well as the skill level that is necessary to pass classes. A child who had it easy in middle school may think that high school includes much of the same type of work, making graduating in three instead of four years a breeze. Discuss the difficulty level that your child will experience in high school, including how it will increase as he goes along. Prepare your child mentally for the work that he will need to do and make sure that the fast-track path is something that he really wants.

Early Graduation Programs

You don't have to go it alone to help your child graduate early. Formal programs exist that aim to help kids get a jump start on college by graduating a year or two before their expected dates. For example, the National Center on Education and the Economy's Excellence for All program uses the Common Core State Standards to help schools create classes that enable kids to complete high school and start college, or junior college, as early as 11th grade. Students must demonstrate a minimum proficiency in the school subject areas of history, math, English, the arts and science by passing board examinations. Although it's possible that more regions will join, as of the summer of 2013 only four states -- Arizona, Connecticut, Kentucky and Mississippi -- are part of the program. Additionally, only select schools that the NCEE chooses participate. Some states -- such as Texas -- offer a financial incentive in the form of a scholarship to students who graduate early.

Taking Extra Classes

One way to help your teen graduate early is to find a way for her to take extra classes. It doesn't matter how smart your child is, if she doesn't complete the required number of classes or credit hours that your state or district sets forth, it's unlikely that she will graduate early. Set up a conference with the school principal and ask what you can do to help your child complete her credits with time to spare. This may mean that your teen takes summer classes or adds in extra credits instead of taking study hall or having a free period. Another option is to sign your child up for extra or enrichment classes at the local community college. These courses may count, depending on the school, toward graduation credits.

At-Home Classes

Your child may get ahead when it comes to completing his high school classes by taking all, or some, of his credits at home. An online or distance learning program allows your teen to work at his own pace, finishing his classes at an accelerated level. For example, the K12 online high school program features over 150 Internet-based courses and the ability to create an individualized planning for learning. Some online high schools, such as Liberty University's Online High School, provide core classes in math, science, language and history that can pad and speed up your child's schooling.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.