Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Benefits of Homeschooling for Gifted Kids

There's a great article on "A Bundle of Contradictions" entitled "It May Not Be Perfect . . ." It addresses the challenges that face gifted kids in many (if not most) public schools, and discusses the benefits of homeschooling for these kids.

I found this especially interesting in light of the fact that I originally chose to homeschool because of my highly gifted older daughter. When she was 3 1/2, I started looking into preschools - only to discover she already had all but one or two of the skills taught in Kindergarten in those schools. Not only was she extremely bright and already ahead academically, but the other preschoolers around her clearly saw her as a strong leader. I could foresee all sorts of problems for her if I put her in a school environment. I didn't think it would be fair to the teacher to saddle her with this leadership- and academically-gifted child who would likely only create discipline issues in the classroom; nor did I think it would be fair to my daughter to put her in a situation where she would be sitting around waiting for almost two years for the other children to "catch up." So I decided to homeschool her.

Of course it didn't occur to me at the time that if she was already two years ahead, she was likely to continue to move even further ahead as she was homeschooled! And today at age 11, she is easily completing pre-algebra and doing a two-year junior-high-level science course in one year. This means in the next year or so she'll be moving into high-school-level courses.

The blog post "It May Not Be Perfect . . . " points out the struggles encountered, both academically and socially, but kids like my daughter. It highlights the problems with the prevailing opinions that "the gifted child will get along fine" in school, and that "it is the gifted child who is "screwed up" and needs to learn to get along with other kids," and answers those opinions with truthful perspectives on what really happens to these kids in school.

I really appreciate this post, and its willingness to confront the critics of homeschooling on these issues. It's one thing to say that average children benefit from public schooling; it's something else again to claim that all children ought to be forced to face these situations. Parents choose homeschooling for many reasons, including properly addressing the needs of their gifted children. Critics of homeschooling ought to wake up and realize that all children don't learn the same way or at the same pace, and that homeschooling can be beneficial precisely because it gears the education directly to the needs of each individual child.

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