Homeschooling is becoming an increasingly popular educational choice for many families today. Homeschooling presents an alternative to conventional schooling where the child is taught at home, rather than an established school. Oftentimes, parents opt to homeschool because they believe that their child will be better supported in a less traditional, more personalized teaching environment.
For parents of a gifted child, the decision as to whether or not to homeschool is a more difficult one. With special considerations to be taken into account, there are both pros and cons to homeschooling a gifted child.
1: Gifted Child Psychology and Emotional Wellbeing
Giftedness often comes with an array of unique social and emotional needs. Gifted children have unique characteristics which set them apart from their peers and can have an impact on their social and emotional wellbeing. Gifted children often feel isolated and misunderstood, which can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety and stress.
As a result, the social and emotional aspects of a gifted child’s education are often taken into account when deliberating whether or not to homeschool. For gifted children, the opportunity to work in a less academic and more social environment can be beneficial.
In a home setting, a gifted child can benefit from the close-knit environment and the opportunity to work at their own pace. Homeschooling provides opportunities for a gifted child to engage in learning activities, choose their own topics of interest and participate in activities of their own preference – all of which may help to foster positive feelings of creative accomplishment. Outsourced activities, such as joining a book club, taking part in art classes, or engaging in other activities such as writing classes or learning a foreign language, can all be beneficial for a gifted child, helping to develop their social skills and social interactions, something which can be difficult for gifted children.
2: Educational Benefits of Homeschooling a Gifted Child
Homeschooling a gifted child offers a number of educational benefits. When homeschooling, a gifted child can progress faster than they might in a traditional school setting, as they will have the opportunity to skip material they already have a basic understanding of, jump into higher level material, and develop a knowledge base more relevant to their individual interests.
Homeschooling also allows the parent or teacher more flexibility when it comes to adapting to their pupil’s needs, tendencies and proclivities. Many gifted children often experience boredom in traditional school settings due to the lack of challenge. Homeschooling can present the perfect opportunity to break out of that boredom and keep the creative juices flowing.
Parents and teachers have the flexibility to tailoring their lessons and activities around what their student is interested in and capable of. This teaches the gifted child to identify and explore their own interests, allowing their knowledge and understanding to grow beyond what would have been available in a traditional classroom setting. Gifted children have broad-ranging curiosities and often bridge several disciplines when learning.
In a homeschool setting, teachers can adjust their materials to a child’s inclinations, allowing the child to pursue higher-level subjects and widen their own understanding; in a traditional school setting, this can be difficult due to the limited materials available.
3: Pros and Cons of Homeschooling a Gifted Child
As with anything, homeschooling a gifted child has its pros and cons. One of the most common pros of homeschooling is that it offers a comfortable, safe, and nurturing environment.
Gifted students are generally inquisitive and can test authority from time to time, making it more comfortable for some parents to homeschool in the safety and comfort of their own home. This also provides more privacy and autonomy from outside stimuli, which can be helpful in areas of sensitive topics, such as sex education or family discussions. Additionally, homeschooling can foster a better relationship between parent and child, as the parent can serve as both a teacher and a mentor.
On the downside, parents of homeschooled children can struggle to provide the myriad of educational resources and opportunities that a public or private school offers. There may be a lack of social interaction and peers with similar interests, as well as an increased responsibility of the parent to source the necessary educational materials and provide a comprehensive education.
Furthermore, while homeschooling can offer flexibility to adapt to the child’s particular interests, it may also mean that certain topics may not be adequately covered or addressed.
4: “Wait-For-It” Curriculum
For gifted children, the “Wait-For-It” curriculum can be an ideal solution. This curriculum was designed with both educational and social development in mind, and provides flexible structure for parents and guardians to develop their own learning activities. This type of curriculum shifts the focus away from the less engaging aspects of formal educational structure and tests, and more on nurturing the child’s interests and learning about their world.
The Wait-For-It model allows for a gradual introduction to school material – providing enough structure to engage the gifted child, but with more flexibility and autonomy than in a standard school system. Mixed in with the traditional material is regularly scheduled social activities, field trips and peer mentoring; these activities and events are often quite popular with gifted children.
5: Balance, Structure & Freedom
When it comes to homeschooling a gifted child, structure and freedom remain two of the most important elements. Gifted children need to be challenged, and should be encouraged to explore and discover their capabilities. On the other hand, structure is important to ensure that foundational knowledge is covered and adequate education is provided, from basic literacy and numeracy skills to higher areas of thinking, such as critical thinking and creative solutions.
With a mix of structure and freedom, a balanced and stimulating homeschool education can give gifted children the best opportunities to achieve their potential. A balance between structured learning and exploration of the child’s particular interests allows the child to explore the subject or topic of their choice, while also ensuring that educational expectations are met.
This type of balance can also help to curb any bouts of boredom that may arise during the school day.
6: Access To Higher Education
One of the major concerns with homeschooling a gifted child is access to higher education. Gifted children are often highly motivated and can prove successful in more advanced studies as well. Therefore, ensuring that the homeschooled child has the ability to access college is an important consideration for parents.
Some colleges, such as Harvard, accept homeschooled students, but these usually require rigorous curriculum efforts and a high degree of personal commitment. Moreover, some states will only accept accredited programmes, and require specialised diplomas or certification to ensure that the homeschooled student is college-ready.
Therefore it is important for parents to research and understand the requirements of the higher education institution of their choice.
7: Benefits of Homeschooling in a Cooperative Community
Homeschooling in a cooperative community offers a unique opportunity for both parents and children. A cooperative environment allows like-minded parents to share ideas, knowledge and resources which can be beneficial in teaching and nurturing an individualized curriculum for a gifted child.
With a cooperative community, parents may find it easier to source educational materials and resources which are often not available to individual homeschoolers. Additionally, social opportunities may be more readily available, as the child is able to interact and build relationships with peers of a similar age and interest. This could be especially helpful for a gifted child, who may otherwise struggle to find stimulating and motivating peers in a traditional setting.
Consequently, cooperation between several like-minded parents can also present more opportunities for gifted children, such as debate championships, music festivals and school trips, activities which can be hard to come by for homeschooled children.
8: Personalized Learning Plan
In a successful homeschooling programme for a gifted child, it is important to find a curriculum that is tailored to the needs and abilities of the student. This can be hard to find in a traditional school setting, but in a homeschooling environment, parents have the freedom to tailor their child’s curriculum to their own particular interests and meet their learning needs at the same time. It is important to consider the child’s unique strengths and weaknesses, as well as their specific interests; the child’s learning should be adjustable according to their particular learning style and aptitude, so it is important to be aware of all of these aspects.
Furthermore, parents should be considerate of the child’s interests, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, while developing their learning plan and selecting the material to be used.
9: Homeschooling and Academically Gifted Children
Homeschooling is an excellent opportunity for academically gifted children. These children possess the ability to learn more quickly and in-depth than their age group, so it is important to ensure that their curriculum is tailored to their individual needs.
Traditional curriculums can be too simplistic for a gifted child, and as a result, they can lose interest very quickly. The ability to tailor the home environment to the needs of the gifted child can provide the optimal learning environment for them to continue to excel in the areas they are passionate about. Additionally, rather than focusing on a particular subject, the homeschooling environment can provide an opportunity for gifted children to practically apply their knowledge and consider their aptitude in diverse subjects.
For example, they can take foreign language classes, an art class, or join an academic club – all in a supportive and nurturing environment which allows them to excel.
10: Pros and Cons of Fine-Tuning a Curriculum
When creating an individualized curriculum, there can be both pros and cons in tailoring the curriculum to fit the needs of your gifted child. One of the main pros is that the child can delve deeper into their topic of interest, enabling them to gain a deeper understanding and appreciate the concepts much more. Additionally, the freedom in a homeschooling setting to mix topics can lead to a more creative curriculum which challenges the gifted child and develops their whole person.
From a con perspective, there can be challenges to tailor an appropriate curriculum which meets the educational requirements, especially when a child is advanced and is able to excel in a certain subject. This can mean a lot of research and planning on behalf of the homeschool instructor to ensure the curriculum is tailored for the individual in order for them to make adequate progress.
11: Time Management and Self-Discipline
Homeschooling a gifted child can be a challenge for parents in terms of time management and self-discipline. Time management is important to ensure that the curriculum is covered, and that the homeschool instructor has enough time to provide the appropriate one-on-one instruction. It is crucial for parents to be mindful of the amount of time homeschooling can take and manage the workload accordingly.
Self-discipline is also key, as gifted children often struggle with finding motivation and pushing themselves to work. This is where homeschooling can have its greatest advantage; by providing a supportive yet motivating environment, parents and teachers can help cultivate self-discipline and push a gifted child past their limit.
It takes support, dedication, and time to provide that kind of environment, and to set and achieve learning goals — but when done right, the benefits can be extremely useful.
12: Parent Participation
Parent participation is a major component in successfully homeschooling a gifted child. Parents must be willing to take an active role in evaluating the student’s progress, as well as being creative and resourceful in finding ways to challenge, motivate and inspire their student. Parents must also be mindful of their roles as parents and instructors, as well as paying attention to how their child is doing emotionally and socially.
As such, parents must also be willing to commit to the homeschooling endeavour, and be prepared to commit the necessary time and resources to ensure a successful experience. Lastly, parents need to be open to receiving feedback from the student in order to adjust the curriculum as the student progresses and develops.
13: The Decision To Homeschool
Ultimately, the decision to homeschool a gifted child is one that should be weighed carefully. Homeschooling can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both parent and child, but it also poses certain challenges. Parents must be mindful of the child’s particular needs, as well as the time and resources necessary to providing a comprehensive educational programme.
Above all, the choice to homeschool should reflect the student’s strengths and interests, as well as the parent’s belief in their child’s potential. When done successfully, homeschooling can provide an optimised learning environment for a gifted child, and equip them with the tools and knowledge to excel in the world beyond the conventional classroom.
Homeschooling can be a challenging but rewarding experience for both parent and child, especially for gifted children. With the right resources, curriculum and supportive environment, homeschooling can provide opportunities for a gifted child to develop their potential and learn in the most purposeful and engaging way. As challenging as homeschooling can be, with mindful preparation, the benefits can far outweigh the disadvantages.