The Rise of Homeschooling Gifted Students
At Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG), our summer programs, we are finding that more and more families with whom we interact are either engaging in or contemplating homeschooling options. This development is understandable for gifted children due to several trends. First, funding for gifted education is tenuous at best. Gifted programs are usually first on the chopping block, if existent at all, and are afforded no real protections at local, state, or federal levels. Second, programs that do exist are often inadequate, either by virtue of being part-time or by not having the resources to provide the complexity, depth, and rigor of the widely varying needs and abilities of gifted students. Additionally, I believe that parents today are better informed about gifted education and the characteristics of their gifted children, than when I first started out in this field, so that there is an increased awareness of what their needs are and of what they are not receiving in school. Finally, I believe the ubiquitous existence of technology everywhere has made it much easier than ever to provide an education from home that is, at the very least, competitive with the education a gifted child can get in a school setting.
This blog is not meant to be pro or con for homeschooling. I believe it is an intensely individual choice for parents and their children, great for some, not so great for others. Fortunately there is a plethora of resources available to help parents make informed decisions about this educational option. Here are some of the positives for gifted children:
1. Personalized Pace
Students can move at their own pace and have time to pursue topics that really interest them, whereas they may not have this luxury at school.
2. Asynchronicity Accommodations
If your child is performing on grade level in one area but two years above in another subject, and then even further ahead in yet another area, then you can participate in all those levels at the same time, without requiring special grouping, or accommodations, or movement within a school or between schools.
3. Catering to Individual Learning Style
Learning styles can be accommodated more easily that in a large group where it would be challenging for everyone to be doing things differently. Some students learn better from reading, some from visual sources, some like noise, others do not, and so on. Your child can work from her preferences as well as her own pace and interests.
4. Ease of Providing Enrichment
Enrichment is easier to provide for a couple of reasons. First, using an accelerated pace allows for time to pursue non-core curriculum. Second, your children know what kinds of things interest them and you can help them pursue those hobbies, passions, and avocations as a natural part of the day.
5. Comfortable Social Setting
Socially, homeschooling may save students from uncomfortable situations where they feel as though they don’t fit in. Learning what you want, at the pace you want, in the way you want, can increase one’s positive academic self-image and create confidence without the peer pressure of trying to fit in. While homeschooling gifted children does not seem to adversely affect them socially, it is still important for gifted children to spend time with intellectual peers, so I would recommend finding ways to provide social groups or activities with other highly capable students through common interests, competitions, classes, or social events.
There definitely are challenges to successful homeschooling. The task is huge and all-encompassing. It requires great effort and planning, as well as commitment. One additional challenge might be dealing with a twice exceptional child at home, in which case the parents would likely need to seek the advice and assistance of experts and additional kinds of resources.
Whatever your reasons may be for examining the possibility of homeschooling, do keep enrichment programs and classes in mind for your children. Such programs can expose them to topics, concepts, social interactions, and challenges they might not have at home. We hope your enrichment considerations will include SIG summer programs for your 5-17 year old students, as well as our SIG Online courses that run spring, summer, and fall, for ages 7-14. We believe these programs are great ways to supplement homeschooling curriculum.
If you have engaged in homeschooling, we invite you to share your experiences and thoughts so that the rest of us can benefit from our collective knowledge, as we all seek the best scenario for educating each gifted child.
All the best,