What’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word “school?” Classroom? Teacher? Homework? What’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word “learning?” Classroom? Teacher? Homework? What’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word “academics?” Classroom? Teacher? Homework? Gee, I think we’re stuck in a rut here!
Let’s get off this merry-go-round for a bit and stretch our ideas about school and learning and academics. Especially as they relate to the gifted children. Ahh, that’s better. Take a deep breath in and blow it out. There are many, varied, sometimes complicated yet wonderful schooling options and educational choices available to students today. Don’t sell yourself short or stop at the first one that comes your way. Keep your options open and don’t write anything off!
1. Public School. Check it out. Find out what their GT, Pre-AP, AP or IB programs look like. How do they identify? How would your child be folded in? What opportunities exist for your child to succeed? Then comes the most important question. As you consider this option, is it a good fit for your gifted child? Not sure? Ask some parents in the program about its strengths and weaknesses.
2. Magnet or Charter Schools. These are public schools that have no zoning restrictions and have an application process and often waiting lists. However, besides the downside of having to drive your child there, it could be a fabulous match for your art focused child or your math and science geek! They typically have stricter dress codes with parents and kids more vested in the learning because of its specialty.
3. Private School. Some are church or religiously affiliated. Others not. They have an application process and typically have more rigorous courses of study. They often boast smaller teacher to student ratios and higher graduation rates. They may be more open to out of level testing or testing to skip courses so your child can take other classes of interest. Same questions still stand. Ask them. If everyone is treated exactly the same, it may not be the place for you or maybe that’s exactly what you’re looking for?
4. Homeschool. It takes a special breed of parent, who is not faint of heart or unorganized. It requires serious commitment to teach or find instruction for all areas of study. If your child is super social, this may be a stretch. Cathy Duffy’s book 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum is an excellent resource to help you match up your child’s learning style with your teaching style. I’ve read it cover to cover! There are outstanding homeschooling support groups and co-ops of sorts that pool resources for everyone’s benefit. If you’re interested, check into what it would take to make it happen. Tiany has an excellent post about options. Maybe you are cut out for it. It’s amazing what parents can do for their offspring.
5. Distance Learning. This option is gaining serious ground in popularity! This is referring to education opportunities online. This means, no matter where you are in relation to the source of the lessons, you have access to them. Leading the pack is Khan Academy followed by Connections Academy. There are also multiple clearinghouse sites that funnel you down to an online education (public or private) that meets your needs like K12. This is definitely an exciting and growing educational option for self-starters or families who don’t like to be tied down to one location. Of course it stands to reason that you will need to check with your state of residence for the exact requirements for this type of learning and what your child will need to be a certifiably high school graduate. Better to ask these questions sooner than later. But, oh, the possibilities!
6. Dual Enrollment. This is a fancy way of saying your child is able to take classes in two different grade levels concurrently. This could possibly even mean at two different campuses. Once your child hits junior high and high school, there are ways for them to “test out” of a subject by showing proficiency in it with an EOC (end of course) test. Your child would stay in their deemed grade level, but since they tested out of 9th grade Geometry, they could take 10th grade Algebra in its place. This opens doors for them to take higher level classes in that subject area as a senior high student or more electives in their preferred area of interest.
7. After Schooling. We all probably do this already. It is an intentional outgrowth of any of the above choices. After your child has completed a day at their school of choice, you have things planned for them at home. Maybe the school you selected was the “least-worst” option and your child’s after hours are filled with what was missing there. That could include academic classes they attend elsewhere or non-academic talents they are intentional about developing.
So, there you have it. Seven options to seriously consider when determining the best educational setting for your gifted child. Of course, all these options are available for typical students as well, you just have a different lens to look through as you seek out the most positive, academically challenging environment that will embrace the uniqueness of your child. Yes, believe it, school can look like that!
Share with us what educational option is or is not working for your gifted child and why?