Gifted learners have unique needs that challenge the systems where they are meant to thrive. Their uniqueness leaves gifted families with the conundrum of how to navigate a giant maze of well intentioned support and suggestions which are fraught with dead ends and cryptic clues without a clear end in sight.
For many frustrated families of gifted children, they make the decision to leave the system and homeschool. In a recent survey taken by GHF in the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (GHF Learners) Discussion Group, we found that over half of the families came to homeschooling reluctantly. These courageous parents choose to create a path of their own. Their difficult journey set them apart from other families. Interestingly, these parents still have a lot more in common with other parents of gifted children who keep their children in school rather than not.
Like many families, we felt that we made our last major educational decision before college when we moved to a town with a great school system. We came to understand that within the world of these institutions it was important to either find a school system that fit our son’s particular niche or force him to conform to the system that he was in. The choice from the school system, whether intentioned or not, was to conform or fail, hence, becoming an “at risk” student.
Gifted Homeschool vs Afterschool
What binds families of gifted children is that they face the same challenges, are the ultimate authority, and need to take the lead in their child’s learning. Whether families choose to homeschool or “afterschool,” what they have in common is that they are now making the decisions in their child’s education. The misperception of homeschooling is the notion that these families sit around the hearth all day reading from school books recreating the school model.
Rather, what homeschool families are doing is a combination of approaches that is creative and focused on the particular needs of their kiddos. Homeschool families join together to make co-ops, seek out private teachers and professionals of all types, travel and explore what others are reading about, read the original documents at leisure, follow their passions, and live their lives outside of institutions.
On the other hand, many afterschool families are now doing the same thing except that they have found a way to use the school systems as a tool within their own educational models. More states are becoming supportive of this model. All of these families are setting a new trend which is learning to rely on institutions less and to rely on themselves, their own judgement, and resources more.
All of these families are synthesizing trends old and new such as autodidactism, self-directed learning, and passion based learning to choose through the a la carte menu of learning options to tailor to their own needs. Gifted families are looking to resources and sources that help them to support holistic development in their child. The home is becoming the center of education again.
Families are redefining Home Learning. In the 21st century, IMHO, the most important educational trend is the focus on Home Learning. By making the home the center of learning, we are all shifting focus away from depending on institutions to families as the center. The entire gifted community of learners and professionals need to come together on this understanding so that we can create a platform to integrate this type of learning into a large hub of resources with the learner at the center.
I believe that we all agree on the same desired end result: supporting the development of independent, strong, healthy adults who are empowered to care for themselves.