The Academy allows parents to pick and choose whatever courses they wish, from whatever levels they wish. We believe this is a parental right, and duty. We do not believe every student should take every course we offer, neither all the time nor every year. There is a give-and-take in education, that is highly individualized, which is why it is called a co-operative art by Aristotle, like medicine and animal husbandry. If a doctor gave all sick folks the same remedy for every illness, many would die needlessly. Likewise, if a farmer gave all animals the same food, or the same quantity – many would needlessly grow sick. Education too has a large element that is best left to the parents who know and love the individual student best and can best judge when their child is either bored (i.e., not challenged enough), or discouraged (i.e., challenged too much), and can then adjust their studies accordingly.
It is natural to love to learn. Most parents are in the best position in the early years to cultivate and nurture this desire. Schools can too easily stifle this by one-size-fits-all approaches to education, killing the innate desire to learn, by forgetting that education is a co-operative art. This is one of several great advantages homeschooling offers. A loving, safe (emotionally, morally, and physically) learning environment is another, in the great majority of cases.
Some students love math and blaze through three or even four grade levels in one year, while making little to no progress in, say, reading or writing; for others it is the reverse. These areas of interest tend to shift in time, so that by the end of elementary school level (with just a little gentle pushing) all, or nearly all, of the courses have been studied through the 8th grade level. If not, there remains time to make up for missed ground in the high school period. We have had high school students take 3rd or 4th grade English/grammar as they simply have not studied or been taught this in school, at least not adequately. They typically make up for lost time very rapidly. The only deadline we have – outside of those for live classes – is that the students need to have all their high school level work done by the time they wish to conclude 12th grade (and their high school and required college-level courses done by the time they wish to earn their Associate’s degree).
Home education allows for different paces in each course, and in each level. We encourage parents not to fell bound to the school academic year for all the courses – rather, they should feel free to proceed faster with some courses, and slower in others, and even have their children doing different grade levels in different courses. For example, A 5th grade math student might be doing 6th grade grammar and 4th grade literature (Good Books), each at a different pace (such as one lesson per day in one course, 2 in another, or perhaps one per week in a third). Such an individualized approach, dome reasonably well, helps students avoid both boredom and discouragement, and allows them time to master the subject matter. St. Thomas advised students not to proceed to the next level of a subject until they had mastered the level they were on, and that will certainly differ student to student, course to course, and level to level. This logical, individualized approach is next to impossible to accomplish or provide in mass education settings, such as schools.