Gifted children display many different ability levels … just like any other kid. In fact, intellectual ability is often a bone of contention in the gifted community. Are they really gifted enough to receive special services? Profoundly Gifted … High Ability … Mildly Gifted … or simply High Achiever? This then begs the question, can their needs be met in a school system that requires them to attend 13 years of instruction for which they have no need?
For many gifted students, the answer is an emphatic, “No”! They don’t need 13 years of spiraling curriculum, endless repetitions, and worksheets galore! They do not need to endure hours upon hours of direct instruction on material they already know.
On the other hand, there are exceptions. Students who are athletically talented certainly benefit from the years of practice and playing on teams. So, too, young musicians may benefit from playing in a school band or orchestra. If your child is fortunate enough to attend a school that provides an excellent gifted program or a STEM school with a curriculum they are interested in, it may benefit them to remain there.
But I’m going to take a wild guess that many of you are not satisfied with your child’s educational setting or its requirements. You may cringe when you hear the oft repeated myth that children need to be in school for 13 years of compulsory education because they will miss important social milestones and events such as the prom.
Then what’s a parent to do? There are actually some very exciting options to be explored within some public school systems … you just need to know what they are! Grade skipping, subject acceleration, dual-enrollment (attending college classes while still in high school), and early admission to college are all possibilities. In some locales, these types of programs are actually appealing to school districts who find it more economically feasible not to educate all students for 13 years. Forward thinking schools can also provide gifted students with ways to earn credit for prior learning through testing.
Of course, a parent can also choose to homeschool, charter school, cyber-school, or send their child to a private school. However, many families are not financially able to do this even with economic sacrifice. If you are able to go this route, explore your options early and thoroughly.
When deciding the matter, you must discuss it with your child first. If they don’t buy into the decision, it will not work. As is often the case with gifted children, they usually approach decisions with a great deal of maturity and understanding with regard to their own education that you don’t see in other situations. It is a decision that can make all the difference in the life of a gifted child.