Guest Author - Lorel Shea
Afterschooling? What in the world is afterschooling? Just as it sounds, afterschooling is a term for education that happens after school, usually at home. For a gifted child, afterschooling has all the academic benefits of homeschooling, without such intense demands on parental time and money. Kids who are gifted and want or need extra academics can tackle online courses, study textbooks, watch documentaries, and write creatively, all from the comfort of their own home. Some families arrange with the child's school to have certain subjects taken at home rather than in school. These courses may be necessary if the student has exceeded requirements for classes available at school - most commonly this happens with mathematics. It may be impractical to move the student to a higher level of study, for instance, if course schedules do not align or transportation to a higher level institution cannot be arranged. The student may be granted a study period or alternate subject in place of the class, and given permission to afterschool using approved materials.
Afterschooling isn't always due to an agreement with a child's school. Often, parents or the students themselves, will initiate regular after school learning. Kids who afterschool may enjoy the ability to immerse themselves in learning at an appropriate challenge level in a subject of great interest. Rather than being resentful of additional work, they may relish the opportunity to think deeply and further their understanding of a topic. Kids who compete in academic tournaments are often afterschoolers, who may expend more effort after school than they do in their regular classes. Challenging online courses for gifted kids are offered by Stanford Education Program for Gifted Youth, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, University of Missouri, and Art of Problem Solving, to name a few. Online courses are not generally inexpensive, but most of these programs do offer financial aid. Be sure to inquire, if you feel that full tuition would be a hardship.
Some parents may be tempted to go all out and schedule a full after school course load for their child. I ask that you please stop and consider carefully before doing so. If your child is spending a full day at school, it is probably best to be cautious when scheduling afterschooling subjects. Consider the whole child and balance her load carefully. She needs time to dream, time to hang out with friends, time to exercise her body as well as her mind. Don't fall into the overscheduling trap, with the intention of giving your child the “edge” over her competition. It may seem to work out in the short term, but cause serious social and emotional problems down the road. Every child is unique, and some need more “down time” than others. Build trust with your child by listening to his opinions. Help him to locate afterschooling resources, and work together to find the right balance of school and afterschool courses.