Gifted children face special challenges in school that the average student does not face. A common trait amongst children that are accelerated learners is boredom when schoolwork is not challenging enough.
Boredom can cause many problems that may reflect negatively upon the child. It is common for bored children to refuse to do work they believe is sub-standard to their intelligence level. This can lead to bad grades, labeling of the child (i.e. unintelligent, lazy, learning challenged), behavioral problems, and a slew of other unpleasant things that otherwise could have been avoided.
The nice thing about home schooling your children is that you have the ability to design a curriculum that is unique to each child. The rigid structure inflicted upon children by public and private schools is not necessary. It is important to make sure your child is meeting state standards in education each year. However, how you do this is entirely up to you.
The following article is a guide you can follow when home educating a gifted child.
- Know your Child's Strengths and Weaknesses. Since you are taking on the role of educator of your child, you need to know exactly what areas they are strong in, and what their problem areas are.
You can find this out through administering tests or through observation. The nice thing about tests is that you can find out what level your child is on for each individual subject. However, some children may not be willing to take the test if they feel it is redundant or boring.
In this case, the best route to go may be through observing your child as they do work in each subject. The problem you may run into is accurately judging which areas they really do not like because they are bored/it is too easy, and which areas they need to work on improving.
- Don't be Afraid to Try New Things. Do not just settle for one teaching style, one method, or one way to get your child to do their schoolwork.
There are thousands of ways to teach a child. The goal is to choose the right way for your child. With a gifted child, this may mean that they are doing intense research projects that involve hands-on activities. The key is to make their work fun for them and educational at the same time.
Here are a few teaching methods that are designed with a gifted child in mind:
- One of the best resources you will have is the Internet. With some parental supervision, a gifted child's curriculum can become a digital adventure. Through their learning, they have the ability to explore the entire world. Instead of reading about history, they can experience history through visual tours, a plethora of websites, and plenty of intense reading material fit for any and every grade level.
- Bring science to life by letting your Junior Scientist explore hands-on. Whether this means taking trips to the Science Museum, the Planetarium, or letting them build their own science experiments, the hands-on structure will ensure your child is anxious to learn.
- Make your child's curriculum incredibly detail-oriented. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals that your child will want to reach. Reward them with educational game time and computer time when they reach their goals. Some gifted children thrive under tight deadlines and strict schedules while others do not. So, this all depends on your child and their needs.
You should keep in mind that no method will work on every single child. Each child is different. Their needs are different. Their learning styles are different. Until you find exactly what style fits your child, you may need to try different methods and be open to what each one has to offer.
- Mixing and Matching can Really do the Trick. One of the biggest misconceptions parents have when they first start home schooling is that they must stick to one grade level for their child. This simply is not true!
This is a major benefit for gifted children because they may be a few grades ahead in multiple areas, on task in another area, and slightly behind in another.
If your child is in fifth grade, but is reading and comprehending on a high school level, then let them learn with high school materials. You can do this for every single subject your child has. Not only will it challenge your child, but it will also reduce their boredom overall.
- Praise Them When They Complete Their Work. If your child is stubborn, you may need to do a little creative thinking to get them interested in school. One of the reasons, besides boredom, that children do not like doing schoolwork when they are in a school system stems from the negativity that can surround their work.
If they do not do the work exactly as their teacher wants them to they are given negative grades, negative treatment, and negative punishments.
Children respond far better to positive reinforcement than negative consequences as a whole. If your child is not particularly happy with having to learn, then hearing they are not doing their homework because they are a troublemaker or not smart enough is not going to make them want to work either. In fact, negativity can make them hate learning altogether.
You need to put the positive aspects of learning back into your gifted child's home school. For instance:
- Instead of saying your child cannot watch their favorite television show as a punishment for not doing their homework, entice them to do their work by saying that, as a reward, they can watch their favorite show if they reach a homework goal by the time it is on television.
- Let your child work for positive reasons and, as they encounter this positive reinforcement and realize how happy you are that they are learning, school may not seem like such a burden to them.
Note: Depending on the state you live in you may be required to keep records, a portfolio, or your child may have to go through testing each year to ensure they are meeting the standards set by the government. Make sure you know what your state requires before you begin home schooling a gifted child.