Guest Author - Lorel Shea
A growing number of families are homeschooling. Many of these are doing so in order to accommodate their advanced and gifted learners. The advent of the Internet has made homeschool support and information readily available. People in cities, suburbs, and rural areas can access the same online bulletin boards, courses, and web sites. Though some parents spend a small fortune on home education, it can also be done on a very modest budget. Some families take great pride in making the most of their library cards and buying gently used textbooks, joining educational co-ops, or bartering for tutoring services.
Why is homeschooling a good choice for gifted kids? People tend to be happiest when they have meaningful work that is neither too challenging nor too easy. Learning at home allows a gifted child (with the help of his parents) to design a course of study that is completely personalized. This is especially helpful for asynchronous kids. Many gifted children are somewhat uneven in their development, and a single grade level in school may not be a good fit. A nine year old girl who reads at a high school level may continue to be challenged appropriately in literature, while working her way through fifth grade math. Similarly, a twice exceptional gifted boy can receive extra assistance in his area of need, yet also be encouraged to soar in his areas of strength.
Gifted kids tend to pick up new concepts quickly. In school, they may be forced to wait until everyone in the class has understanding of a subject. At home, each child can learn at their own tempo in each individual subject, and move on when they are ready. Schools are rarely able to address the gifted student whose pace is faster than the standard school year. At home, a boy may zip through several grade levels of math in one year. Conversely, a gifted student may yearn for more complexity and spend more time than the average student on an area of study. A young girl who loves science may spend months collecting data and performing experiments with a depth that is not offered in traditional elementary schools.
Lessons can also reflect the child's own preferred learning style and interests. An auditory learner, for instance, can listen to recorded lectures about Ancient Roman philosophers. A visually oriented child may try watching a documentary on the Roman Emperors, and a hands-on learner may prefer building a model of the Colosseum. It all leads from one thing to another, and even the boy who is fascinated by history's battles will pick up information about period culture and traditions.
Active and engaged kids are happy kids. Parents may find that any problems with behavior or attention in school disappear or are mitigated when the gifted child comes home to learn.