The desire to provide optimal and appropriate educational challenges has prompted many parents to consider homeschooling their gifted children. Parents routinely supplement their children’s formal education. However, the choice to withdraw them from the traditional classroom for all or part of the school day is gaining popularity nationwide. Although little information specific to gifted children is available, the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) estimates that 1.1 million children were homeschooled in 2003, the most recent year for which data is available. Of that number, anecdotal evidence suggests that a growing percentage are gifted children.
The decision to homeschool a child entails a major commitment of time, energy, and resources and should not be made lightly or impulsively. While resources for general homeschooling abound, guidance for gifted children is sparse. The parents of such children must plan and research more diligently in tailoring a curriculum to match their children’s individual strengths and interests. Planning and implementing a homeschool curriculum for a gifted child can overwhelm even the most organized parent, and a careful, thoughtful approach that considers both short- and long-term educational goals is essential to success.
Before exploring curricula, parents need to examine their own attitudes towards education, schooling, and giftedness. The first step is to assess the following:
The next stage is to evaluate and adapt curricula. Several options are available including: text book- or workbook-based courses, online study, and videotaped lectures and documentaries. Most are graduated, following some pattern of scope and sequence deemed appropriate for a given subject area. Listed below are several major areas to consider when selecting a curriculum.
Parents who homeschool their gifted children need to be flexible and innovative. Effective homeschooling, should be complex and incorporate the home as the hub of operations from which parents teach, guide, and foster education through a network of mentors; internships; private tutors; volunteer opportunities; field trips; homeschool and gifted education support groups; public library, museum, arts, and recreation programs; and even part-time enrollment in public schools (or private?) or dual enrollment programs at local community colleges, colleges, and universities.
Organizations for homeschooled children and for gifted children exist in most areas of the country, and most states have annual gifted conferences and homeschooling conferences. Internet sites, such as A to Z Home’s Cool Homeschooling are also helpful, cross listing gifted education under special needs students.
The possibilities are limitless, and the curriculum and approach should allow for the individualized, flexible, and appropriately challenging experiences identified by Joyce Michel, author of “Desperately Seeking Research on Homeschooling the Gifted,” as essential elements of gifted education.
Sarah Boone holds a master’s degree in teaching and is certified in gifted education. She has an MFA in creative writing, which she teaches at North Carolina State University.
This article is reprinted with permission from the Duke University Talent Identification Program and the author.
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
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