Why Parents of Gifted Children are Turning to Homeschooling

gifted kids leaving school

Tell someone that your child is gifted and they’ll probably roll their eyes. They might wait until you’re not looking, but eyes will roll.

Tell someone that your child is at risk for not finishing high school, more likely to struggle with depression, at an increased risk of suicide, or even more likely to be incarcerated than the general population, and you’ll probably get more concern than eye rolling.

Of course most parents of gifted children realize that I’m saying the same thing. But many people have no idea.

Many people feel that the label of gifted is unfair – that is somehow implies that children who do not make often arbitrary sounding cut offs on IQ tests or other criteria are not smart, talented or in any other way special. And I would agree, it does imply that, and that has done a huge disservice to everyone, gifted children included.

The problem is that the label ‘gifted’ sounds a lot like ‘has gifts’. This problem is compounded by the addition of “and talented” to many gifted programs. So little Johnny goes in for testing for the “gifted” and “talented” program. Turns out he didn’t make the cut off. So now, as a parent what I’m hearing is “little Johnny has no gifts and is not talented”. See how I might find that off-putting?

The reality is that gifted kids are often difficult to understand, can be overly sensitive and unusually excitable. They can have a very hard time with injustice or unfairness and they think in ways that can make them hard for other children to get along with. They are often extremely intense. They can find themselves turned off of school completely after facing too many long days of being bored, and forced to be taught things they have already learned. They can struggle with depression, understanding big, heavy issues like poverty and world hunger on a profound level, but lacking the life experience and maturity to be able to cope.

Don’t get me wrong, they can also be amazingly empathetic, fiercely creative, able to solve problems far beyond their years and have many other remarkable qualities. Their intensity can allow them to absorb vast amounts of information when something is interesting to them. But the semantic mishap that has called this condition ‘gifted’ has left these kids and their parents accused of elitism and demanding too much from an already stretched school system. Because they are gifted people assume that they will do “just fine” without the extra help and support that they truly need.

Many parents of gifted students know first hand, they don’t do “just fine” without the proper help and support.gifted kids leaving school2

Sometimes their boredom translates into disruptive behavior. Sometimes it creates apathy for school, or worse, hatred. Some kids  become withdrawn or even depressed. Whatever it looks like, parents know something is not working. Parents of gifted children advocate for their child, for acceleration, alternatives, some kind of enrichment so that their child can get back to doing what they are supposed to be doing: LEARNING.

A lucky few have full time gifted programs that their gifted child can attend.

Some are given pull out classes. Once a week for an hour their child can move into a higher grade level of math or science.

Many are told that they could access some enrichment, that the school could provide alternatives that would engage this child better. But first he has to learn how to behave, that if he can’t do what is required of him in the classroom now they cannot even consider accelerating or enriching his curriculum. This is like offering to give medicine to a sick person on the condition that they get well first.

Others are told that, because their child doesn’t have a diagnosis, they really can’t do anything for him. Some are even told to go and “get” a diagnosis, so that funding can be allocated for their child’s education.

At some point along this path, many parents of gifted children find themselves exhausted and out of options. Needing to find some way to meet the needs of their children, homeschooling emerges as a viable alternative. Homeschooling offers the gifted child time to really explore their interests, it allows them to move freely through subjects that they grasp quickly and gives you the opportunity to address their unique set of needs.

Of course homeschooling comes with its own set of challenges, and its not for everyone. But for those of us who have spent time and energy trying to get our square pegs to fit into the school system’s round holes, the responsibility and effort of homeschooling, while at times daunting, are a welcome reprieve.

About Jennifer Charboneau

Jennifer Charboneau was born and raised in British Columbia Canada and moved to Arizona with her husband and three children in 2009. Alongside her husband Kevin she has started and run several businesses and continues to pursue her entrepreneurial goals while homeschooling their children.

Posted on February 3, 2014, in Education, Gifted children, Gifted education, Homeschool, Parenting, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. That sounds like it could have been written by myself, and my ‘gifted’ child has only been at school for 3 days.

    I hate the term gifted, and in the short time that we’ve officially known, I’ve already learnt to avoid using that term at all costs.

    I’ve worked closely with families of children with disabilities my whole adult life, and I can’t imagine that their challenges faced with day to day living raising a child with special needs is actually that different to mine, apart from one key thing: support!

    When preschool thought my child was autistic they made exceptions, accommodations to meet his needs when he became overexcited, and very intense. The moment they heard the word gifted, that stopped, even though his needs hadn’t changed, only the label.

    School has gone off to a bad start, eyes have rolled, information withheld about his needs or circumstances were not passed on and the promises that gave us hope last year from a principal are already fading, as without a diagnosis they can’t provide support for giftedness until he is 10- 5 years away.

    I know if he is to sit at school bored for 5 years, he will make their life hell through his frustration, and will be viewed as the ‘bad kid’. The damage this could do to his current love of life and learning, has me already considering the option of pulling him out of school.

    While I appreciate that children with special needs need support to succeed, I am already frustrates with a system

    • Angela it is heartbreaking to hear – so many struggles already and you are just beginning. Stay connected with other people who are in the same boat or who have been there in the past, knowing you are not alone will help a lot as will getting advice from those who have ‘been there done that’. I hope you’ll keep in touch through my blog too.

    • Angela,
      I have to admit that I too feel like this post speaks to me and my ‘gifted’ daughter, and I do sympathies and agree with you on the fact that special need kids get more support then a gifted kid, I agree it is unfair and unjust that just because the label changed the school and laws are not going to protect our kids! however, when you said
      “I’ve worked closely with families of children with disabilities my whole adult life, and I can’t imagine that their challenges faced with day to day living raising a child with special needs is actually that different to mine, apart from one key thing: support!”
      I sure hope you where only speaking regarding school issues… the reason I say this is because not only do I have a ‘gifted’ daughter but I also have a special needs son and the challenges I face with him do not come close to the challenges I have with my daughter. He has surgeries, medical issues, he cannot talk has 15 doctors, 5 therapies, among many more struggles to keep him thriving. I would not compare those types of struggles with my ‘gifted’ child. Now if you are only referring to school issues and struggles then I agree with you I have had a much harder time getting my daughter the help she deserves and needs than my son, the struggles to get her the support she needs are much harder because the law is not backing her up like they back up my son….

  2. Homeschooling is a great solution for many affluent and middle-class families…but unfortunately, if those who can afford to homeschool (one-income, two-parent households) do so, then there are very few stay-at-home parents left in the public school environment to advocate for better gifted education for all eligible students regardless of means. If everyone who is educated enough and has enough resources to homeschool does it, then less fortunate gifted children will suffer, since their parents often both work full time and do are not able to spend time down at the school advocating for better education for gifted kids. If all the parents of gifted kids would stay in the public school system, band together, and insist on change, change would come! Unfortunately, however, change takes time, and their children might suffer in the meantime, which is probably why most don’t do it. Our DDs go to a charter school 25 miles away from our home because it meets their needs better than the school in our local district. Since my husband and I both work, we didn’t have the time it would take to homeschool, or to bring about change in our local district. But if all the stay-at-home parents in our town were to speak up, vocally and repeatedly, then our public school could be better, and serve more gifted children well.

    • I understand where you are coming from Lisa, but I can’t (and won’t) sacrifice my children for the greater good. However, I do think that discussions like this one that raise awareness and bring people together to formulate ideas will help. I think that if schools and administrators and politicians understand that they are not meeting the needs of many kids (not just gifted kids) that change will start to happen. And while I’m writing today about gifted education, my personal feeling is that our entire educational system is in crisis. I would also contend that you do not have to be well off or have one parent able to stay at home to be able to homeschool (have a look at this book by Pamela Price http://redwhiteandgrew.com/).

      • I contend that you & Price aren’t very aware of just how much too many people in this country struggle. There are a lot more poor people around than most people want to acknowledge, and sometimes even with both parents working, one of the adults will have to take on an extra job. I’ve read the arguments that insist that working is more expensive than staying home, but those situations are all but contrived. And that’s not even going into whether or not a parent is even qualified to teach their children. Homeschooling is simply not possible on the scale that some contend.

      • I can appreciate your frustrations – and I think each situation is different and absolutely no one solution will work for everyone. When we started homeschooling I was working full time, my husband works from home and we were able to use an online curriculum and get things done that way. It was tough, and eventually I gave up my day job and took a job in the evenings. That was tough because we were all on different clocks…the house was a mess and I was pretty sleep deprived…but we got it done. I have since been able to give that up and it is definitely a luxury that I appreciate every day. That being said, I still do things like write and my husband and I own a business together that takes effort on my part. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we make it work – at a certain point during their public school careers we really felt like we had no choice. I write about my experiences because homeschooling has turned out to be a huge surprise for our family – I never thought I would (or could) do it and it has turned out to be one of the best things that has happened to us. I am also hopeful that by having dialogue about what isn’t working in the public school system, we can bring about change.

      • It’s not an either/or situation, Jennifer. Most public school systems will listen to parents who live in their district regardless of whether or not their children are actually in their schools — particularly when they point out that their children would be *in* their schools if the schools were up to snuff.

        This is why I get irritated by homeschooling parents a lot. It’s not that they choose to home school their children; it’s that they use it as an excuse not to engage the wider world around them and help advocate for the less fortunate.

      • I’m not sure where you are getting your information that homeschooling parents use homeschooling as an excuse not to engage the wider world around them and help advocate for the less fortunate? Many homeschooling families I know spend a great deal of time incorporating service in general into their family lives.

  3. Lisa, you can’t place the blame on everyone else when you ended your comment by admitting you are just as guilty. “Parents shouldn’t make decisions for their kids; they should stick it out and fight for everyone else’s kids too. But it’s OK for us to ship our kid to a charter school because we don’t have time to fight for other people’s kids.” Mmmm. Nope.

  4. It is definitely not up to me to be an advocate for everyone else’s children. I can provide care and support by fundraisers for the local schools and charity work (which we do) but I chose to homeschool for many reasons, most of which were listed in the post. No child should have to wait for the system to change if his or her parents are willing and able to alter his education and childhood experience. Most of the parents I know who homeschool are NOT affluent, some have 1 or 2 parents that are unemployed or working for peanuts, but the system is SO messed up for their children that they will not risk putting them back into the public schools. Yes, for some kids, school is a RISK. A risk of becoming a statistic. I will not take the chance that my kids will become statistics. Not while we are able to provide a different alternative. I foresee that once my children are grown and out of the house, that I will become an advocate and volunteer at local schools, especially for the lower income neighborhoods. In the meantime, I have a full time job teaching these kids not only what they need to learn but also how to enjoy learning in it of itself, and how to enjoy the life they are living.

    • I agree. I feel for kiddos who are stuck in a situation they cannot leave and whose parents are unable to make whatever changes might help them, but that is not a reason to allow what’s not working for my kids to continue.

  5. I am as guilty as everyone else, as we send our daughters to a charter school 25 miles that’s better — I admit it. But where we lived previously, our school was a neighborhood school that was also a charter — neighborhood kids went there, 20% lower income were bussed in, and the school was governed by parents, teachers and administrators. Most of the parents there could afford to send their kids to private school, or homeschool, but raised hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to make their neighborhood school great. I greatly admire what these parents accomplished, and it took years of work to achieve it. When we moved, I wanted to help contribute to our new school…but almost everyone there was satisfied with mediocrity, because the ones who were dissatisfied had left for private or homeschooling. I spent so many hours advocating for change at our new school before I realized that I could not do it alone and made the difficult decision to move on for the sake of our daughters (one had developed severe anxiety due to the school’s inability to deal with her gifted perfectionism). I also realized that in a small town, no one wants to complain because it is socially unacceptable and hurts property values. In addition, complaining puts your own children at risk. Teachers who feel threatened will often retaliate by mistreating the children of parents who complain.

    It was painful to leave so many underserved children behind, but frankly, you’re right — few people will sacrifice their children for the great good (although I have known some adamant public school advocates who have done it. I couldn’t do it.) It’s great that we all have the means and good education, to seek alternatives such as homeschooling, private, or charter schools. We might not be wealthy, but we can afford the gas it takes to carpool to school 25 miles each day with three other families.

    But we must remember that if everyone who has the means leaves, we should not be surprised that public education, funded by our tax dollars, will get worse and worse. True,
    we are in a situation that is not of our own doing — none of us had a hand in setting up the industrial-style mass education model that has dominated US education for almost 100 years, and utilizes many of the same techniques for social control as modern penitentiaries.
    We aren’t the first to leave, either; affluent families began moving to the suburbs for better schools decades ago, and those who couldn’t afford to leave had to stay behind. Now, state funding for schools (in most states, anyway) is so lacking that pulling out kids to homeschool or go to private or non-neighborhood charter schools is the new response. I agree that you don’t have to be wealthy to homeschool, but homeschooling (and school choice without transportation) is still the bastion of the privileged — people need a safe, clean, organized environment, and enough education to be able to teach their children at home. They need the money to drive them 25 miles each way if there isn’t bus service So many families don’t have the means, or even a high school education, to do that.

    I want to challenge each one of us to consider what we might do to improve the public education system after our children are grown. My plan is to move into serious volunteer and non-profit advocacy work to make sure that our tax dollars are used for effective public education for all children — gifted, average, learning disabled, twice exceptional, academically and/or emotionally challenged. A healthy democracy depends on quality public education. Everyone needs to be educated enough to vote intelligently and understand civic issues, and sadly, that is not the case right now in America.

    No, we’re not sacrificing our children today…but I hope you will join me in the future to work for the betterment of a system that might someday effectively serve American children. The future of our democracy depends on it.

  6. Just now read your response Tracey. I agree, there is lots to be done, and I know that once our kids are grown we all can really make a difference. 🙂

  7. As the mother of two now-grown children who were unschooled, I can testify that their school-free upbringing was the absolutely best choice we made for our kids. We didn’t have to label them “gifted” or fight for funding or advocate for their needs. We just raised them in the wider community according to their own interests and needs as just “kids”.

    • I admire your bravery – homeschooling (and unschooling) have gained a significant amount of momentum and become almost mainstream now. If you are the mother of two now grown children, you had to take a path that was truly on the fringe – I would have found that a huge challenge!

  8. Lisa Jones, I think you are under the impression that public schools work for the parents and the children. Public schools, a.k.a. teachers,principals and administrators work for the city and the State governments. Keeping my gifted kids in the broken system while begging and trying to demand services for my children achieves nothing but broken children. Any parent that keeps bugging, demanding, begging the school for more just creates enemies for themselves and their children. Your child will be treated with more negativity when you rock the boat.

    Changes can be made by lobbying your state for gifted funding requirements. Just as those with disabilities have laws that demand their needs be met, some states have laws that require that gifted kids have their needs met.

    I find it interesting that you think everyone else should be advocating for your child because you don’t have time.

    • Chickadee Deedee

      The American public schooling system is vastly diverse. You’re brash, simplistic generalization and presumption against the OP show that you’re probably jaded and biased against whatever district(s) pissed you off.
      If you cooperate with teachers (instead of “bugging,” “demanding,” or “begging”- what loaded words!) you might be very surprised by how very dearly we appreciate parent involvement. You must also understand the amount of pressure we are under to get every single student (especially students with disabilities) to pass constantly changing sets of standards that we have no access to in advance, with raising stakes and outright public disdain (such as yours). We do not “work for the city and the State governments” any more than we have to in order to keep doing what we’d rather be doing- teaching (not “achieving nothing but broken children”- which is not only unfair, but totally inaccurate, and proof that you are oblivious).
      It is the system, the economy, and the governments that are broken. Teachers and admin are variables. Don’t demand more paperwork and extreme legislation that can be easily abused by bully parents who believe their children are the only a priority a teacher should have. Perhaps instead demand smaller class sizes so that we may truly make your child a priority. Demand more teachers, greater variety in the curricula, wider student opportunities to create meaningful learning opportunities, etc. Demand greater access to technology and safe learning environments. Hell, demand that kids can be fed no matter their parents’ financial situation! Demand that they have access to organic, non-cancerous foods that don’t hinder brain function and mood levels! After we get those things, I’ll gladly discuss what personal faults every teacher and administrator you’ve ever encountered have displayed that have resulted in your child breaking.
      In the meantime, we (I especially) are doing the best we freaking can.
      If you don’t believe me, please- volunteer to teach for ONE day. In a public school. All by yourself. If your first day of this is anything like mine, you’ll be so exhausted and accosted that you will have lost sight in one eye and drive home in a daze.
      It’s easy to demand things and to be a seething blister of a presence. It’s much more meaningful to reach out, to understand, and to give a hand.

      • Chickadee Deedee

        Also, I apologize for the typos. I had a very long day and I’m battling a sinus infection.

      • Chickadee Deedee, I cannot speak for Bronwyn, but I will speak for myself and perhaps some other parents who have felt the way she feels but who mean no disrespect to all teachers. You are right, it is the system that is broken and blaming all the people who work in or around it is unfair. But having been on the other side, I can attest that working with teachers, co-operating and treading lightly only works in some cases and then only some of the time. In many, no matter how collaborative you are, your child is not going to get what they need. In many cases it only takes one administrator, or one unsympathetic teacher who doesn’t get gifted kids, or who just doesn’t like you or your child, to undo all the collaboration you have worked so hard to build for so long. And the sad reality is, there are not enough resources in education, so there is a sense that you have to advocate to get what you need. Ask almost any parent of a child with any kind of special need and they’ll tell you – you have to fight for anything you get. And we all know, the squeaky wheel is going to get the grease. The budget for gifted education in our school district right now is zero dollars. (Why even have a budget if its going to be zero dollars?) Teachers, principals and administrators are trying to work within a severely broken system which increases their stress and often, they are not all on the same page. We’ve heard teachers tell us the principal won’t support them, the administration won’t allow them to do what we need, that other teachers are terrible and that we shouldn’t let our kids go into their class. So yes, as parents of children who are being served by this system, we are a little cranky, and a little fed up.

        But, every once in a while a teacher comes along who cares as much as you do, and who understands as well as you do. Its not every day, but they are out there. The problem is, even teacher’s like you are getting fed up – I can see that from your comment. We are burning through people who want to teach like matches in a forest fire and the ones who live to teach, the ones who love to teach, they can’t last forever. We need to fix the system for everyone, the kids and the teachers and administrators who truly want to help them.

      • Chickadee Deedee

        I appreciate your compassionate response, Jennifer. I’m very accustomed to rudeness and presumption used against me, and I’m not proud to admit that being spoken to fairly does catch me off guard.
        “We are burning through people who want to teach like matches in a forest fire and the ones who live to teach, the ones who love to teach, they can’t last forever. We need to fix the system for everyone, the kids and the teachers and administrators who truly want to help them.”
        I couldn’t have said it better. I do love my job, but I am making plans to leave it. The problem is that I just cannot meet all of the demands I’m under without compromising individuals’ experiences, and my own failure to reach some of these kids is emotionally damaging me in ways I could have never anticipated before I took on this career. Today, I had a surprise walk-through evaluation in one of the most hectic weeks of my career (5 brand-new students, one on an IEP, one with a 504, and one who speaks no English and whose language is so rare my translator app cannot accommodate her- I teach freshmen English). Despite this week’s thousands of challenges, I was conducting a wonderful lesson in which each student took part in enlightening their peers in an investigative research report. The kids were quiet, well-managed, respectful, and they had impressive projects. I was so proud!
        The principal, in the four minutes he stayed, did not see several of the checklist requirements within those four minutes of student presentations, and I got a mediocre review. His biggest criticism? A student was wearing a hat when he walked in. I have 150 students throughout my class in a day. I have noticed when they are depressed, high on drugs, hurting themselves, or in violent moods. But I did not take care of that hat. I get a mediocre review.
        In the next period, a brand new student turned in a blank worksheet. Concerned, I asked him why he had not attempted it. He shrugged me off and shut down. I was managing a difficult class and my time to work with him ran out. My biggest concern walking away from that failed conversation? There was no way I would coerce this student to do well on any state exam, and his score could be a major mark against my performance as a professional, meaning that I could lose my job.
        If things do not change for the better, I will leave this profession after next year. I will not see the freshman I taught my first year reach their senior year of high school. It frustrates and angers me to tears, but I cannot live like this. (Not to mention I can hardly afford my apartment, bills, and basic needs.) Meanwhile, my gifted students drift on by, and I feel helplessly trapped in the tumultuous current of our schooling paradigm disaster. I am swarmed with work in a thousand directions, I am being brow-beaten by bully parents, and the state of Ohio is demanding stacks of paperwork where I “prove” I am doing the things I need to do in 200 words or less (meanwhile taking time out of my actual planning and grading).
        And everywhere I turn, I am bombarded with horribly abusive accusations against public school teachers as a whole.
        It is the saddest thing I can imagine, but I am worth so much more than this. And so are our children.

      • There are so many things about your comment that demonstrate what is wrong with education today. Many of the things you wrote struck a cord with me, but the thing that struck me most was the surprise walk-through.

        It occurred to me that you had more kids in your classroom than would be ideal (150 through your classes in a day), you had struggling learners, students who did not speak English in a freshman English class, special needs kids and 5 kids who were brand new that week. This is pretty far from what most parents, teachers and administrators would call the “ideal classroom environment”.

        But the fact that you had too many kids and that they were diverse and that their needs were great was not the compelling part of your story. The compelling part was that, in spite of all this, you were able to conduct a wonderful lesson. Your too many, overwhelmingly different and needy classroom full of kids were quiet, well-mannered and had completed projects that you called “impressive”.

        So while all those obstacles were being thrown at you, you just kept jumping. None of them hit you, none of them slowed you down, none of them stopped you from doing your work.

        What is stopping you from doing your work is a checklist. A list of things that someone thinks will measure just how well you can manage your classroom and just how much learning is going on.

        The problem with that checklist, is that no where on that checklist does it say “checked-in with student who I suspect is depressed”, no where on that checklist does it mention “noticed that a student has come to class in the same clothes 3 days in a row”, no where on that checklist does it ask whether you “took a student aside to talk about how well they are doing in this class and ask what their plans are for college”.

        The checklist isn’t going to acknowledge that the child who was wearing the hat was going to drop out of school completely, but that you were able to connect to him on some level and convinced him to come to just one more class, to give it just one more shot. The checklist won’t care about that.

        I do understand the desire to measure. The need to somehow account for the taxpayer money spent on education and to look for trends in the data that might help us improve how we do things. But it seems to me that we have undertaken measurement of teacher and student success on a grand scale without first truly understanding or even identifying what it is we ought to be measuring.

      • Hello again Chickadee Deedee,
        I’m not sure if you’ll remember me but we had a great conversation about education on one of my blog posts. I wanted to let you know that I had been working on a follow up post to the original and I (finally) got it done. I used a paragraph from our conversation and wanted to let you know. I hope you are still teaching, and I hope improvements are being seen on the horizon! Here is a link to the most recent post https://modernhomeschoolblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/a-checklist-for-exceptional-education/

  9. Wonderful post and discussion. I can certainly relate to what all you’ve said here, especially in our early years in education (thankfully, it’s gotten better as the kids have gotten older, and my oldest is back in public high school full time now).
    For us, after the first few years trying in vain to make public school work, homeschooling finally surfaced as our only viable option, and it’s worked out beautifully. Like you, I would never say it’s for everyone, that it’s even possible for everyone, or the best choice. It’s just nice to have choices, and I feel you’ve effectively outlined that option and its increasingly common motivations here. Thanks for the post!

  10. Chickadee Deedee

    As a teacher, I feel awful for the gifted kids who cannot be placed in my honors classes (after the first week we’re no longer allowed to move the students, and I can’t identify 150 brand new freshmen as gifted or otherwise in the most hectic week of the year). They are so bored; they pick up on things so easily, yet- we are FORCED to accommodate the lowest common denominator. They are the ones we worry about for the state testing. The gifted kids get no real care or accommodation (this killed me last year when I begged to have a student switch a study hall period to be in my honors class. It would have been impossible if the parents hadn’t stormed in to force the admin to honor my judgment).
    It is extremely hard for me to provide the gifted kids with the challenges that I deeply want to provide when I have at least 10 helpless students who are hanging off my arms and another 10 who are failing and couldn’t care less (which could cost me my job, so fostering the students’ accountability is out the window).
    If only we did things intelligently in public schools. If I could round up all my brilliant kids and guide them on their own learning experiences, and actually watch them GROW and legitimately get excited to, I would never retire. That’s what I saw myself doing as a teacher- thrilling and engaging the students who were just like me: gifted, depressed, and bored out of their minds. They can’t score any higher on the state tests, so they’re nowhere near priority.
    Regrettably, gifted kids are not who we are concerned for. We must focus on the lowest, most challenging and apathetic kids, because if I DID spare any time for the gifted kids, my test scores would flatline. I’d be out of a job.

  11. We had so much trouble with my oldest that when my youngest started reading at 4 I refused to send her to school. I had teachers tell me they were trained to teach to giftedness. I’m sure they were but they had 25~30 other students, some of whom had never even seen a book before, most of whom didn’t know their letters or sounds & many with behavioural issues. What was my child supposed to do while everyone else caught up, got trained & taught? She would have become the primary class behavour problem, just like her brother & as I no longer believed that the school could or would address her special needs I kept her home.
    She has been performing professionally musically since she was 9 & trained as a teacher aide to support her music. Her comments are insightful. *It’s a good thing you never sent me to school, mum. I would have turned into the most horrible child.* She acknowledges she would have struggled to learn & work [attention deficit], she would not have had the time or discipline for her music & her primary gift would have been squandered.
    we will always need schools but they are not suitable for all children.

  12. Catherine Gruener

    Your article was included in the Parenting Gifted Children Party (blog hop). http://www.positivedisciplineandgiftedchildren.com/2014/02/february-parenting-gifted-children-party.html As a courtesy we add you to our Pinterest Parenting Gifted Pin Party Board. http://www.pinterest.com/gruenerconsults/parenting-gifted-pin-parties/. Thank you for writing and contributing for gifted children.
    Catherine Gruener

  13. This is so true. An eerily similar chain of events is happening to my child right now, except the principals support him. My child is now completely identified with a gifted designation. We think his teacher thinks that means he’ll achieve high with outstanding teamwork, but he doesn’t. Why? He has all the symptoms of gifted children, including not being able to focus in class. Multiple times, he got kept in the classroom because of this symptom.
    And what you posted of the medicine without getting well first: so true. His principals are doing the best they can, trying everything not to hold him back, but his teacher is like your medicine metaphor.

  14. We have been homeschooling for K this past year, with the plan to enroll our daughter into a private school “for gifted, talented and high-ability scholars.” Sounds great, right? The local SENG coordinator is even a teacher there. However, after a two-hour observation/shadowing by my darling 5 year old, we received an email back asking us to “address” some of her intensities and social issues first, and that they would then love for us to reapply next year. It is exactly as you stated: “This is like offering to give medicine to a sick person on the condition that they get well first.” I was horrified, because I thought we had finally found a place she would really fit in. So, we will be homeschooling for the foreseeable future (and, no, we will not be reapplying next year, or ever). Just wanted to say thanks for putting this out there!

    • Kate, I feel your pain. I suspect it would be more painful having felt like you had found that place where your daughter could flourish, only to run into the same problems there. I find myself frustrated often, and in the same breath, so thankful that homeschooling is an option – imagine if it wasn’t??!! Thanks so much for your comment and good luck with homeschooling again next year 🙂

  15. Homeschooling is quickly becoming my only option to educate my children. I work from home and own my own business, my husband is well employed, but we can’t afford the only private school for gifted kids in our city.

    We live in Houston and currently my two boys – both highly gifted – are in a “gifted program” at their school in HISD. There are several other school districts in our area, some have implemented schools for the highly gifted. Houston’s gifted program at the elementary level is really not one at all. HISD identifies gifted as up to 15% of the students in the district. That is a huge number that includes a lot of children who really aren’t gifted, but are included in the program.

    This year my son’s 5th grade “gifted” class was changed from being a homogeneous classroom to one that included all students, regardless of whether they are identified as gifted or not. I was appalled to find out this week, that among his classmates, there is a 5th grade student who is reading on a 1st grade level.

    Gifted Education has suffered in HISD for years because of over-identifying students, lack of support or understanding from school officials and other parents, threats of eliminating funding and just the difficulty in figuring out how to handle these kids that are able to test well above grade level while a large portion of the student population can’t read at all.

    As I begin to search for middle school options for my 5th grader, I am considering all sorts of alternatives – including homeschooling and a university model school. My hope is that in an environment where my boys can explore their own interests and are not limited by the students around them, they will finally be able to excel in their education and reach their potential.

  16. Yes! That is it exactly.

    My husband and I chose to homeschool for these reasons. My husband is a great example of failing school despite giftedness. I adore him but he’s a very square peg! The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and we didn’t want our son to succumb to the same fate. The best method we knew to avoid it was to let him learn at his pace, follow his passions, and experience more real world situations.

    I’m loving reading your thoughts, so glad to have found your blog!

  17. Mayalisa Bordenkircher

    Oh my goodness, I so needed to have this reassurance today! We are there — we advocated ourselves to death over my gifted son, I am likely more educated on giftedness than anyone in our local district, and after the private school he was doing well with last year closed, and after a battery of cognitive tests as recommended by the pediatrician netted zero movement from the district, after four years of explaining that challenging him will likely “fix” most of his behavioral and attention issues as well as get him actually making an effort and doing the work and getting nowhere, we are DONE! Because this year’s teacher has helped him learn to love writing (a previous black hole of doom and destruction for us all), we will finish out the school year. We are supposedly in one of the best districts in our state; we have finally learned that the description only applies to students who fit a certain mold, and the new legislation requiring gifted education in all schools is so vague and poorly written that the end result is a joke. Next fall we embark on homeschooling, although I am not sure yet what form that will take and am marginally terrified that he will be well beyond my abilities to teach within a few years!

    • Don’t worry about him being beyond your abilities – so long as you have the ability to find him the right curricula and courses and resources you don’t have to actually understand quantum physics the way he does! You will be great at this. The time and energy you have already invested in your son’s education speaks volumes about how well you will do!

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