One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is how you can reach your child where they are at. Maybe your child needs extra time to complete an activity. Perhaps they just need to move a lot while learning. Or they might be gifted and need a place to excel at their own pace. So many valid reasons.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE GIFTED?
“Gifted” is actually a loaded word. There are many definitions based on who you are talking to. Words that are often thrown about are bright, exceptional, or talented, but really they all have different nuances.
What does gifted mean to you? I think we all, as parents, can see areas of giftedness in our children, maybe because we want to see them that way. Small children can be precocious in the way they try new things and master them.
By definition, people who are gifted have above-average intelligence and/or superior talent for something. You can test for above-average or superior intelligence. When schools are looking at “gifted” for their programs, they are looking for children who definitely operate above the average.
GIFTED VS TALENTED
The main difference between gifted and talented, is that gifted primarily focuses on intellect, while talent is something that is often in one area, like music or sport.
GIFTED CHILDREN CHARACTERISTICS
- Intense emotions with surprising depth and sensitivity at a young age
- Get bored and restless if not challenged
- Highly motivated to deep dive into subjects they like
- Rapid learner
- Ability to understand and master material several grade levels above their age peers
- Strong sense of curiosity
- Quirky or mature sense of humor
- Creative problem solving and imaginative expression
- Sophisticated language and thought process
- Self-aware, socially aware, and aware of global issues
- Can be a perfectionist
WHY SHOULD YOU HOMESCHOOL A GIFTED CHILD?
When you homeschool a gifted child you get to reach them where they are at. Isn’t this really what we want for all our children? But when we are homeschooling a gifted child, we can extend and challenge them as needed, moving on when skills are mastered to help limit frustration or boredom.
At home you can teach at a “grade level” your child is operating at, rather than what age dictates. You can also look at topics and subjects based on interest and dive deeply into them.
It is also easier to draw on additional resources and people who can help to extend your child.
WHEN TO NOT HOMESCHOOL YOUR GIFTED CHILD
Homeschooling is not for everyone. A lot of patience and time is needed. If you and your child are not compatible temperament wise, it might not be best. Can you handle the intense emotions that might explode from frustration?
If you struggle with providing structure then it might not be best to homeschool. Many gifted children actually need structure. Unschooling probably isn’t the best for them if they do need structure.
Don’t take it on if you feel you can’t meet your child where they are at. That is totally ok. Do what works for you. If your local school has a gifted program, it may be better for them to be in the classroom and making the most of the programs offered. But understand that most schools do not like students to advance grades above their age level. It takes exceptional circumstances and intellect for that.
HOW TO HOMESCHOOL A GIFTED CHILD
- Use a variety of curriculum and let them work through the curriculum as fast as they like. Feel free to skip extended review on concepts they have easily mastered.
- Use project-based learning which allows them to go deep into topics. Encourage that depth. Tailor the projects to interests and strengths.
- Provide enrichment activities – giving additional learning experiences that might not be available at the local school.
- Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your child. They might be highly advanced in one area but struggle in another. That is not uncommon. Provide additional support in the areas that need it to limit frustration.
- Provide opportunities to fail. Allow them to take risks, make mistakes, and correct those mistakes. These are great learning opportunities for gifted children. So often, they are not used to making mistakes and failing. And this is a beautiful thing to learn from.
- Find the support YOU need. Maybe it is an online group, or it could be a local one of parents of gifted children.
There are definitely pros and cons to homeschooling your gifted child. As with all things, weigh them up, talk to professionals and friends. Work out what is best for your family and your child. There are some great rewards and beautiful benefits of homeschooling your gifted child. It is a way to truly let them shine.