parents have tried more than one type of schooling option in an
effort to find the right academic fit for their child. In the vast
majority of cases, parents felt a change of schools was necessary
for their child because the child wasn't receiving appropriate accommodations
for his or her advanced academic needs due to the child's giftedness.
"They did not understand my child's extreme needs..."
In some cases, parents felt that the school culture was unacceptable.
They mentioned teasing, and bullying by other students because their
child was different from the norm. "Bored bored bored. Teased.
And tortured." They even described some instances of teachers
that were hostile to their child. "AP teacher this year was
hell-bent on "proving" the child not-so-good in math."
parents decided to move their child due to special needs related
to learning disabilities (LDs). Although the questionnaire didn't
ask about learning disabilities, parents mentioned seven children
that had learning disabilities in sections on the questionnaire
reserved for comments. In two of these cases parents said their
child received accommodations for LDs. In the other cases the learning
disabilities were undiagnosed and went unrecognized by the school,
or if diagnosed, the school refused to provide accomodations for
the child's LDs. One parent who reported her child received accommodations
for his LDs felt the school situation was partially successful and
did not make a change. However, the other six parents in this group
tried, on average, three schooling options for each child.
total, thirty-two of the 109 children are still in their original
school placement. Some people have tried as many as five different
options, depending upon the success of the current placement and
their child's changing needs.
vast majority of people (97) chose public or private school as a
first option. Of those, 54 chose public school and 43 chose private
Only 15 of the 54 people who chose public school as a first option
stayed with it. None of these 15 people felt public school was a
successful environment for their child, and 4 felt it was totally
unsuccessful. Of the 75 ratings on the success/lack of success with
public school placements, only 5 were rated as successful. 30 were
rated as partially successful, and 40 were rated as unsuccessful.
the 88 public schools children attended, 66 were considered regular
public school by parents, 16 were magnet schools and 6 were charter
schools. In general magnet schools and charter schools didn't do
much better than regular public schools. Even though several of
these schools were supposed to be designed for gifted children,
they were not at an advanced enough level to meet the needs of the
students in the survey who attended them. Only one selective admission
public high school for gifted students, one Montessori charter school
and one Montessori magnet school were described as meeting highly
gifted children's needs.
Only 7 of the 43 people who chose private school as a first option
stayed with the original school. Four of those 7 felt the private
school was successful for their child, and the 3 parents that expressed
only partial satisfaction said the school was doing it's best. Of
the 61 comments on the success/lack of success with private school
placements, 21 were rated as successful, 23 partially successful,
and 17 unsuccessful.
Homeschool was chosen by 66 people, but it was only the first choice
in 10 cases out of 109 first choices. All 10 of the people who chose
homeschooling as their first choice have stayed with it. The other
56 people who tried homeschooling, tried public and/or private schools
first. Comments about homeschooling were overwhelmingly positive.
Fifty-five people judged it to be successful for their child, 6
said it was partially successful and only 3 felt that homeschooling
was unsuccessful. Fifty-two homeschooled children were involved
with a homeschool group, and 24 were in some kind of homeschool
of an eleven year old who felt homeschooling was not successful
said, "Her abilities are way beyond mine at this point and
she craves specialized teachers- which although we have three tutors
now it is not enough." It might be time for this parent to
investigate college classes, since twelve years old is the average
age that children in this survey started taking colleges classes.
Distance learning was used frequently, with 79 options checked by
parents. The single most popular distance learning program, checked
32 times, was Stanford's EPGY program. Summer programs and early
college both online classes and on campus classes were also popular
options for meeting the academic needs of highly gifted children
who are often ready for the pace and rigor of college classes at
a young age.
no educational option was an unqualified success with all the children.
In fact, a placement that worked well initially often lasted only
for a year or two before parents needed to find a different situation
for their child.
rare cases public schools were fairly successful in meeting the
needs of highly gifted students, but these were not traditional
public schools. They were either specifically for highly gifted
children, or were Montessori schools were the children were encouraged
to learn at their own pace. Public and private school gifted programs
were no guarantee of a good fit for the highly gifted child, because
most were designed to meet the needs of moderately gifted children.
As a whole private schools seemed to be more willing to try various
accomodations for highly gifted students, although a few private
schools let parents know that if they didn't like the school's offerings
they could go elsewhere.
received the most positive comments by a wide margin over public
school and private school. None of the homeschoolers used a packaged
curriculum exclusively. Instead, most homeschooling families chose
a flexible form of homeschooling that could change as their child's
needs changed, and utilized a variety of resources including tutors,
mentors, online classes and co-operative learning with other homeschoolers.
In addition, some families that homeschooled enrolled their child
in school part-time for social reasons or for classes they didn't
want to teach at home.
homeschooling families used a year or two of public high school,
or as little as semester, as a transition before moving on to early
college. Generally, in the cases where public high school was employed
for a period of time, it wasn't planned as a short transition phase.
Once enrolled in high school, families and students often found
that the classes lacked depth and were still too slow for the highly
gifted student's optimal pace of learning, even when the student
was significantly younger than high school age.
to the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, an organization
that serves the needs of highly gifted children, at any given time,
roughly one-third of the families they serve homeschool. Among the
families in this survey, over half (60) are homeschooling, 29 are
using public school, and 19 are in private school. (These numbers
indicate their current placement, or the final schooling option
they used prior to their child entering college fulltime.)
high percentage of homeschoolers in this survey may not be representative
of all families of highly gifted children. It is possible that families
homeschooling highly gifted children are more likely to use the
Internet email discussion groups where this survey was announced,
than the families who are successfully using public and private
schools to meet their children's academic needs. It is also possible
that the families who took the time to contribute information for
this survey have had an unusually difficult time finding the right
educational fit for their child in public and private schools. Personally,
I don't believe the latter is the case. In the past five years I
have participated in online email support groups and conferences
for families with gifted children, and the comments in this survey
seem to be representative of those online discussions.
any case, it is evident from all of the parents' responses that
educating a highly gifted child in a manner that addresses their
asynchronies and meets their academic, social, and emotional needs
can be a challenging endeavor.