Homeschooling a Gifted Child
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
I have a 2.8 year old, who regularly dazzles us with his reasoning,
observation and ability to grasp things. We have many in the family and
friend circle who have already labeled him gifted. To name a few things
He can easily do jigsaw puzzles up to 40 pieces without help after he
has seen them once.
He can relate things very interestingly. For example - when I told him
that what he sees in the mirror was his reflection, he told me that he
can also see his reflection in my eye! He was only 2.5 yrs old when he
did that. Or he will see a flower and tell us that it is a 'carrot
flower' since it is shaped and has color of a carrot.
His vocabulary is amazing, which is a constant source of wonder for us.
It is definitely much advanced than other kids of his age.
He had mastered his alphabet around 2 yrs of age. Recently when I gave
him a 'match the following' activity with alphabets on one side and
words on the other, he could match in one go.... same with words on both
sides.... he also asked me their sounds and identified them in sentences
- sometimes on his own, sometimes with help. All without any
instructions from me ....in one go.
He loves being read to, and can spend a long time in the library with me
reading different books (we are in UK right now).
He counts as a part of his day to day activities , on his own...like
"mamma, I ate 2 almonds, now one is remaining" ..then he will say "now I
ate 3 almonds, nothing left" ....and such things.
There are a lot more things which lead me to believe that he indeed
shows signs of being gifted - can vibe, play easily with kids of 4 yrs
age , has tremendous energy, asks non-stop questions (even like - why my
dad works in Infosys, but Vandana and Adi's dad work in different
My question is - I am tempted to homeschool him, since he responds very
well to whatever i do with him...we usually learn the fun way. See this
(link removed for privacy reason)
But I would like advice from an expert. Do you think homeschooling if
done right will help a kid like mine? Would you rather suggest a school
environment where teachers can understand if i tell them that my child
might have higher capabilities?
A: Thanks for the link (link
removed to protect privacy) - it was
heart-warming to see a child so advanced at a young age and how hard you
work to help him, and the poem is absolutely beautiful! I have no doubt that he is way above average and would
need differentiation education to cater for his advanced abilities.
Now, homeschooling is a very tough decision but for the right child, if
done appropriately, I believe it would definitely benefit him. However,
for now, it is a little early to tell or suggest homeschooling as a
schooling option. Have you tried playschools in the neighborhood? You
may want to find out if any of the schools in your area have provision
for gifted children. Speak to the principal and see how they can help
him. At this stage, I think it would be good for you to expose him to
other children to develop his social skills, confidence and self-esteem.
Only if it is working against him - he is deteriorating, feeling
frustrated, bored, burning out, etc, he should be removed immediately.
Some general reasons for homeschooling children are as the following:
Parents believe that the child could benefit from a better education at
home; school education not stimulating enough (usually for special
children, from children with learning disabilities to gifted children).
Unhappy with school curriculum - not challenging enough.
Religious reasons (ability to control the content of their children's
Schools or good schools not available where parents live.
Anxiety about the physical well being of their children in an
increasingly more violent school setting
A major concern about homeschooling is socialization which has been
debated a lot over the years. Stereotypically, the homeschooled child is
often portrayed as being shy, passive, and lethargic because of their
isolation from the normal socialization found in formal schooling, which
in turn is believed to affect the self-concept. Some critics also
believe that the homeschooled child is overprotecting from the real
world. However, studies have also found no difference in the self
concept of homeschooled vs formal schooled children. Another
breakthrough study on socialization of homeschoolers found that found
that all who had attempted higher education were successful and that
their socialization was often better than that of their schooled peers.
Having said that, you may want to look around to see if there is a
school that may cater for the needs of a young gifted child. And for
that, you would need to try it out and have a good relationship with the
school. If it doesn't work out, homeschooling may be an option. Only you
can decide here. Homeschooling is very complex and requires a lot of
effort and energy from parents.
Being quite costly as well, families
need to be financially well off where, as in most cases, the father
would be the sole breadwinner and the mother may need to quit her job
and be the full time educator with most time spent with the child.
Therefore, this decision needs to be taken carefully in view of all the
pros and cons.
As beautifully put by a researcher:
"Homeschooling for highly gifted children is sometimes an option when
nothing else works out--when the school cuts the gifted program,
eliminates any ability grouping, refuses to allow acceleration, or is
genuinely rigid in its stance. However, just as often, homeschooling
allows the ideal educational program for a highly gifted child to
unfold, by providing maximum flexibility in the spirit of the best
traditions and the strongest research bases we have in the field of
gifted education." - Kathi Kearney (2002).
Hope this helps with your decision and please do a lot of reading on
homeschooling to be prepared should you consider this type of education
for your son. Wishing you the very best & good luck!