If your child is gifted you should consider homeschooling. There are many parental, family and educational benefits for doing so.
Homeschooling for highly gifted children is sometimes an option when nothing else works out. When the school cuts the gifted program, eliminates any ability grouping, refuses to allow acceleration, or is genuinely rigid in its stance. However, just as often, homeschooling allows the ideal educational program for a highly gifted child to unfold, by providing maximum flexibility in the spirit of the best traditions and the strongest research bases we have in the field of gifted education. This includes the use of acceleration, intense and focused enrichment, flexible pacing, mentorships, internships, early college, and summer programs.
When you choose to homeschool your gifted child, you are giving your child the opportunity to have an education that is tailored to their needs without the repetition of a modern curriculum, or the focus on minimum standards that may overlook the potential of each individual child.
Gifted children learn and and develop in an asynchronous manner. This means they do it in spurts. There are periods of time where their growth seems to plateau and other times where they seem to take huge, almost astonishing leaps forward.
While there are in-school options such as pullout classes and acceleration, those still may not meet your child's needs.
Gifted children develop in an uneven manner, that they are more complex and intense than their agemates, that they feel out-of-sync with age peers and age appropriate curriculum, that the internal and external discrepancies increase with IQ, and that these differences make them extremely vulnerable. Their greatest need is each other in an environment in which it is safe to be different. IQ tests may not predict who will become famous, but they do give at least a minimal estimate of the degree of the child's asynchrony, and, therefore, vulnerability.
Maybe your child is simply too asynchronous to fit comfortably into a one-size-fits-all academic environment, as are many gifted children, or you are just tired of using all of your energy advocating within the system and want to put it toward something you feel will be more effective.
One of the great joys of homeschooling is the flexibility inherent in running your own show. If you try a particular curriculum and it doesn't work, you can throw out parts of it, jump around among sections, or just put it aside and try something else. If your child is intensely interested in volcanoes of the Pacific, you can let them focus on that exclusively rather than stopping them after 20 minutes to study Latin. You can do unit studies, or you can simply run as hard as you can to follow your child's interests! You'll be able to let your kids move ahead in each subject at the pace at which they are comfortable, and expand on those subjects or take breaks from them as you believe appropriate. The possibilities are endless and the doors open to you and your child are many; read on for suggestions as to how you can homeschool your gifted child!
Homeschooling is right for some highly gifted children and their families at some stages of individual and family development. It is not right for everyone. It takes commitment, time, and in two parent families, a strong and supportive marriage. There will be discouraging days and boring days and grumpy days in the homeschool, as well as exhilarating ones. The rewards, however, are great: opportunities for a child like Jonathan to explore his talents unfettered by age: grade locksteps, opportunities for parents to spend much more time with their children than is common in contemporary society, and opportunities for professionals to observe the unfolding of extraordinary talent within the family crucible.
Joyce Jackson is an educational expert and consultant in northern California. For her latest book and information see Homeschooling Easy
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