Homeschooling a gifted tween
Homeschooling is often the best solution for children with exceptional abilities. If you have an unusually talented tween, middle school is a great time to begin homeschooling. If your child has been in a traditional school setting up until now, you may have experienced frustration with so-called gifted programs in the public schools.
You may want to bring your child home to give him the type of education that will challenge and support him during the difficult middle school years. If you’re not sure where to begin, there are resources out there to help you get started.
- What is gifted? The original definition of gifted meant that a child had abilities far beyond his years in one or more abilities or areas. A child who reads early is not necessarily gifted though, that can be a sign. A child who reads and comprehends materials written for people much older than him may be verbally gifted. This does not automatically mean, however, that that same child will have equal abilities in math, science or other areas. In recent years, public schools have begun offering “gifted programs” that are often a program where designated children are pulled out of class once or twice a week to participate in an advanced activity. These programs do not base participants solely on ability, nor do they distinguish between various abilities. Instead, these programs usually contain a racial and economic component as well. The result is that some children are excluded from programs because, despite their ability, their socio-economic status does not meet the school’s desired mix of students. In these instances, homeschooling gives you a chance to challenge your child without becoming involved in a battle with the school system.
- How do I best teach my gifted child? Like everything else about homeschooling, there are multiple ways to teach a child with exceptional talent.
- One of the most popular approaches with these children is an unschooling approach. Gifted children are often driven and will independently seek out ways to learn what they want to learn. If you decide on this approach, your job is to serve as a facilitator. Make sure your child has access to the information, mentors, and tutors to help him on his academic journey.
- On the other hand, gifted or not, middle school kids still have a long way to go in terms of maturity. They may need a more structured environment to succeed. You can choose any approach to homeschooling and tailor it to your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Your gifted six graders is free to pursue geometry or pre-calculus while still working on grade level with reading comprehension.
- What are other resources available for parents of gifted children?
- Duke University’s TIP program identifies and works with highly gifted children in grades 5-12. Contact TIP directly for information about applying and qualifying. If you are not on the east coast, research universities in your area for similar programs.
- Read this article from the University of Connecticut and it’s likely you will recognize some of your own experiences.
- Whether you are pursuing classical-style homeschooling or not, a visit to the Accelerated Learner forum at the Well Trained Mind is worth your time. Join other homeschoolers in active discussions about their gifted children. Browse through the archives to get solid information about resources online and nationally to further assist you.
- If you have a child who is gifted and has a learning disability, twice exceptional, this article is a good starting point.
- Finally, visit GiftedHomeschoolers.Org for additional resources which are continually updated.