Homeschooling is increasing in popularity in many circles around the globe, and one of the fastest areas of growth is actually among families with gifted kids. While there are as many reasons for homeschooling as there are families that choose this option, the following are some of the main reasons gifted kids often end up at home, whether for a year or two or for a longer duration.
Gifted kids, my own included, are often asynchronous. They are years ahead in some areas, slightly ahead or “on track” in others, and even sometimes behind the curve. Schools, especially traditional public and private schools, are not designed to accommodate these drastically varied learning needs. Teachers often have little-to-no training in how to work with these students (I didn’t!), and many schools don’t offer flexibility, other than the occasional computer program. These kids are left languishing, waiting for their classmates while not getting support in the other areas because they “don’t qualify”.
2. Deep Dives
Another characteristic of gifted kids is their “rage to learn”. Once they find an area of interest, they want to dive deep, learn everything, and they will want to spend hours a day doing so, like my 6 year old did with chemistry a couple years ago. The traditional school model rations learning. You have to put your history away once the class is over and switch gears.
Homeschooling also doesn’t require a daily or even weekly routine, so deep dives into interests can be followed with abandon. My 8 year old sped through pre-algebra in about 3 weeks. During that time, very little other schooling was taking place, but in December and January he was studying and composing music for hours on end, and in February and March we spent the majority of our time reading stories together, discussing the various literary devices and structures in the text. It all comes together – eventually, and gifted kids tend to thrive when allowed to follow their passions.
Side note – if you haven’t checked out Google’s Bach composing doodle using AI – it’s pretty cool!
3. Not constantly “the other”
This, rather than the academic concerns, was one of the bigger reasons we chose to begin homeschooling. We saw our child, in those early years of identity formation, defining himself not by who he was but by how different he was from the other kids. Every day, the messaging he got from his classmates and teachers was, often unintentionally, how he didn’t fit in.
We want our kids to feel like their love of learning, their curiosity, their interests are normal. We want them to feel like they have peers. That wasn’t my oldest’s experience in the neighborhood public school.
4. Pacing & Rigor
Gifted kids, on average, need less repetition than the average student. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can move at your own pace, speeding up, slowing down, reviewing, and even taking a break as needed.
If you start a math unit (we’ve been switching between Beast Academy and Life of Fred) and discover your child already knows it, take the proficiency test and move on.
With the same token, gifted kids need rigor. They need to do hard things and be challenged with material they can’t just snap their fingers and understand. Otherwise, they never learn how to learn and will flounder later in life. Homeschooling allows you to find the right challenge level – one that’s not insurmountable but still takes effort.
The first question many homeschoolers often get from the broader community is, “What about socialization?”
We get to choose our friends, instead of being arbitrarily placed in a classroom with 25 other geographical and age peers who may or may not have shared interests, abilities, and values. Yes, socialization is hard, but it’s going to be hard for these kids no matter their environment.
We can find families, extra-curriculars, neighbors and mentors who come alongside us and help us gently coach our kids in how to connect with others. We’re not hiding at home, afraid to connect. Instead, we’re out there, almost daily, in community of people of all different ages, living life together, and it’s beautiful. Messy, but beautiful.
6. Lack of Programs/Services
Where we live in New York State, there is no gifted mandate and no funding. Other parts of the country and world are light years ahead of where we are, but here, in our district, there is nothing, not even a pull-out or support option. Kids who figured out algebra at 5 because that’s how their brains work are expected to sit through weeks of 2+2 lessons and behave appropriately. It’s not just unrealistic – it’s damaging.
Kids need to be met where they are, at least most of the time. Yes, there is something to be said for being bored and paying attention to others’ needs, but that should still not be the majority of the school experience.
This post has been part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop for July 2019.
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