|Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
|Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp. All rights reserved.
|about the book
|The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Homeschooling Special Situations
Why Try Homeschooling Talented and Gifted
Students? Because it works!
by Julie Knapp, copyright 2005
Homeschooling is a great way to meet the needs of gifted students.
What does gifted education look like in a school setting? Specialists in
Gifted Education have proposed, over the years, several models to
guide educators in providing gifted education in schools. Though they
differ in focus, they are mostly based on a few "best practice" options
that have traditionally been used to meet the needs of talented and
The easiest of these options is allow a child to progress thru the
curriculum at an accelerated pace. Another related option is to find
out what a student already knows (thru written or oral pre-testing) and
to eliminate the needless teaching of these topics, resulting in what is
called compaction or compression of the curriculum. These two
options, acceleration and compaction, often result in a level of
achievement that makes grade advancement (skipping a grade) an
obvious next step... and a high-achieving student may need more than
one grade advancement along the way.
Differentiation is an option which involves tailoring the learning
environment, curriculum, and teaching practices to create
appropriately different learning experiences for different students.
This is similar to the approach used many years ago by teachers in
one-room school houses across the US. For gifted children this
means adding complexity, depth, variety, and higher-order thinking to
the curriculum. It can also include student input and choice.
Four other gifted ed options provide learning experiences outside the
regular curriculum. Enrichment activities provide accessory projects
related to a school topic. Independent learning, where students
choose among several teacher-selected projects, can help address a
student's need to study a topic in greater depth. Self-directed
learning, where students pursue projects of their own choosing, and
toward their own ends, can help promote the gifted child's love of
learning. The last is mentoring, where a professional in a given field
spends time with a student to share interests, explore higher-level
concepts, and discuss career options.
Some schools have been able to meet the critical need for specialized
TAG instruction, and routinely provide these one or several of these
educational options. Many other school districts resist implementing
even the easiest of options. But even in responsive school settings, a
classroom learning environment may just not be the best match for a
particular child's learning style and educational goals.
Parents who find their school district unable (or unwilling) to provide
gifted programming for their student have begun turning to
homeschooling in record numbers. Homeschooling has truly become
a viable option for gifted education. It can even be the ideal academic
alternative for many gifted children.
Homeschooling allows children to learn at an appropriate pace and in
the manner that best suites their learning preferences. Parents can
compact curriculum and supplement it with resources and activities
that provide their children with opportunities for higher-level thinking,
and in-depth learning. Parents can encourage creative thinking and
foster student initiative. Parents can seek out professionals from the
community to provide tutoring and mentoring for their students.
Homeschooled children have the freedom to follow their interests and
can explore favorite topics in depth and breadth. Their curriculum is
not restricted by grade-level or tied to standard scope and sequence.
Children can regain their natural curiosity and reaffirm that there is joy
All of the recommendations for gifted education can be successfully
implemented in a home-based program. Perhaps more importantly,
learning can occur in a safe, flexible environment where students are
encouraged to engage their abilities. Parents can support their
attempts at new skills, foster their individual strengths, and allow
children to celebrate their accomplishments.
TAG homeschooling can provide an education that is tailored to the
individual intellectual, academic, social, and emotional needs of each
child. The best results are achieved when parents are dedicated to
helping their child succeed, willing to search out the most appropriate
resources for teaching their particular child, and open to new ideas in
education and learning. This type of parental advocacy might be met
with disapproval in some school settings... but when these energies
are applied to homeschooling, the results can be amazing!
It is hoped that the Homeschool Diner's Gifted Homeschooling
section will increase the awareness of homeschooling as a viable
educational alternative for gifted children of all varieties. Even if
parents decide not to homeschool, I hope this website will help them in
their quest to individualize and optimize their gifted child's education.