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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp.  All rights reserved.
about the book
The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Homeschooling Special Situations
Gifted Homeschooling

Early graduation isn't the only option for
gifted homeschoolers
...or is it?  
Much depends on the student.

by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006, 2007

"...I began homeschooling my child this year, and he went thru
three years of curriculum!  At this rate my child will be ready
for college at age twelve!"

This is a lament often heard in gifted homeschool support groups.  There
are several issues that new homeschooling parents commonly struggle with
in TAG homeschooling.  One of the most basic is the need to re-examine
the concept of a standard grade-level content and the associated "scope
and sequence" adopted for use in public schools.  

If you think of grade level content (as presented in school or in a
homeschool curriculum) as "the course work that a child needs to have
completed in order to graduate", then, yes, a motivated gifted child could
very well complete all the grade level content and high school graduation
requirements before the age of 18.  But if, instead, you begin to think of the
scope and sequence as "what the schools are able to cover with the typical
child from ages 5 - 18"... I think you will start to look at your gifted child's
homeschool education in a new light.

Public school curriculum, and any homeschool curriculum that is sold by
grade level, impose depth and breadth limits, as well as upper limits on the
amount of material a student covers each year.  Gifted homeschoolers
needn't be restricted by this narrowness of scope.

This is, in fact, one of the traits that universities find so appealing about
gifted homeschool students - their transcripts show a depth and breadth of
education that is way beyond what the scope and sequence require. The
standard college admissions question, "Did this student seek out the
highest challenges available to him/her?", often puts homeschooled
students in a much better light than their public school counterparts...
because we aren't tied to the mediocrity of grade level content.

Homeschoolers can extend learning into any number of interesting
subtopics and related issues, no matter where their curriculum leaves off.  
Adding depth and breadth to your lessons can allow your child to increase
his or her knowledge base in each subject you cover.

In addition to expanding the scope of learning, homeschoolers can progress
upwards, as needed.  If you have a very fast learner, a very ambitious
student, or lots of available resources for outside learning - your child's 6th
- 8th grade curriculum may be on par with what high school students are
learning (at least in your child's favorite subjects) -- but you will be "calling
it" middle school.  Then, in grades 9 - 12, you will record your child's yearly
achievements on your homeschool transcripts as high school credits, even
though it may be, in reality, mostly at a college level.  

Provided you can locate the materials, tutors, or mentors, your child's
achievements needn't be restrained by any upper limits.  Your student can
take advantage of college level lectures in many subject areas thru free
Open Course Ware from MIT and others, and from vendors such
The Teaching Company.  Also, your student can take advantage of
used college textbooks to supplement any topic of study.

Homeschoolers can take off on any interesting tangent, explore their
favorite topics in extreme detail, and study topics that typical students don't
have the opportunity or time to tackle.  Think of options such as multiple
foreign languages, music, art, theater, sports, model airplanes, community
service, travel, and non-paying internships.  A science-oriented student can
develop a research project and even enter it in national competitions.

Let's not overlook the joys of having free time, too!  Many teens need time
to hang out with friends, read for pleasure, listen to music, play video
games, work on fun projects, sleep long hours, and just "chill".  If your
student is bored, help him or her find productive ways to spend the extra
free time, rather than racing on ahead thru next year's curriculum ;-).  (Read
What do I do with all this free time?" for more ideas.)  Helping your teen
find outside work may be another solution, and a source of learning as well.

All the things your child learns and all the educational opportunities that you
are able to facilitate for him/her before "going off to college" can be
considered K thru 12 education - the scope and sequence of your very
small, very individualized gifted homeschool program.

So, you see, there may be no need to graduate a child early, and send him
off to a university at age 10 or even 16 -- *
if *, thru a combination of
homeschooling, outside classes and activities, tutoring, mentoring, and
distance education, you are able to continue to provide a challenging,
fulfilling education for him at home.  

Now, there *are* young gifted students who are READY to go away to a
4-year college, academically, emotionally, and socially before 18. An
extreme example is
Greg Smith .  At 16 he was a doctoral candidate in
math, and is working on his doctorate in Physics, with an eye toward a third
PhD, followed by Medical School.  But what if your child is only ready

If your child truly craves the college learning environment, then it is
an option you need to explore with him or her.  

We homeschool parents have a very difficult job-- trying to find what works
for each of our kids.  (And, of course,  that can change each year! ;-)  
Hearing about what other families have done can be interesting -- and may
suggest options you hadn't thought of -- but all kids are different, their
family situations are different, and the educational options available to them
may be very different.  Your student  might try taking just one or a few
college courses.  Maybe full-time enrollment would be feasible if your child
could still live at home while attending?  Maybe consider a community
college, instead of a 4-year college? Or online college courses?

If your child gets to the point where early college admission will be a
necessity in the next year or two -- you should join one or more of the
"homeschool to college" support groups (some are listed below). There you
will find the latest scoop on admissions requirements, homeschool
transcripts, and testing.  

There are also a few established
programs for early full-time college
admission -- created specifically younger gifted kids.  Check out this list --
Colleges With Early Entrance Progams to see if there are any in your
region, or any that focus on the fields your student is interested in.

Gifted homeschool students who are not ready for full-time college, but
crave higher level college course work, may want to
take just a few
at a local community college or 4-yr institution.  

For more
info on taking college classes early, read the Diner's article:
Gifted homeschool kids taking college classes?  

This article by Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, Ph.D. --  
Thinking About Early
College Admission?  presents a lot of research which may help with the
different areas of concern that parents and students may have.

FAQ's about Early College Admission -- this website was created by two
young people who went to college early

It is truly up to you and your student to explore all the options and pull
together the most appropriate learning experiences possible, given your
family's particular situation and your student's goals.  Each homeschooled
student's path will be unique -- which is really the ultimate benefit to being
homeschooled, after all ;-)

Related Resources:

Early College Entry Hall -- contact info for a support group for parents
with children 14 years old or younger, who are currently, and independently,
taking college classes on a college campus

Homeschool 2 college



Colleges With Early Entrance Progams

"Kids can be gifted and Have Learning Disabilities?"   It's true!

How to request ACT and SAT accommodations for learning
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