Educational Alternatives for GT Students
Decisions concerning educational decisions should always begin in discussions with the student/child. Changes not driven by the student will ultimately fail. This is especially true of GT students who can form strong opinions early on regarding their education. Parents often consider both their child’s educational progress as well as social-emotional well-being when deciding to look at various educational options beyond the traditional public school as sole provider of their child’s educational needs. Lack of provision for any gifted education programming may be a starting point to look for alternatives. Also, negative attitudes about gifted children may be a starting point for many parents.
It is critical that options under consideration be better than what is being offered by a student’s current school. The type of schooling is important as well and should be matched to student needs. The criteria for considering alternative educational opportunities should include a school philosophy which supports gifted students, teacher qualifications, and student interests. Practical considerations should include the financial costs involved, the physical location of alternate schools, and longevity of proposed programs/schools.
How can blended learning benefit gifted students? Blended learning is a combination of attending a traditional brick-n-mortar school and online/cyber options. It has certainly gained wider acceptance since the beginning of the Pandemic which made this type of learning often necessary. Blended learning can be a good option for GT students who enjoy socializing with age-peers but need accelerated or more intense academic options they can receive virtually. It can increase interaction with intellectual peers and mentors. Blended learning can provide greater opportunities for personalized and independent learning not available in traditional schools.
When are microschools and unschooling a viable alternative? Microschools are the modern-day version of a one room schoolhouse which offers mixed-age groupings, and low student-to-teacher ratios. It is a more expensive option requiring coordination with like-minded families in a localized setting. Unschooling is a rather radical approach to education but may be suitable for certain GT students who thrive in unstructured settings. These students experience interest-driven learning, are highly motivated, and receive strong parental support. Both microschools and unschooling require significant financial resources which are beyond the reach of most families. Even with unschooling, parents still need to be active participants in the process.
Are there any benefits to considering private/charter schools? Private and charter schools are not the same. Private schools generally require significant financial resources. Charter schools are generally supported by funding from local public schools. Private schools may be local or residential. Many offer to meet specific needs of gifted or twice-exceptional students. Some provide scholarships or financial aid similar to what is available in higher education. Parents may consider private or charter schools when they feel their child’s school is not meeting their needs or they aren’t thriving academically, but other alternatives such as homeschooling are not viable.
Many public schools today offer alternatives to the traditional classroom that are good options for GT students including magnet schools, in-district cyberschools, dual-enrollment, self-contained gifted classrooms, and Governors’ Schools. Public schools often offer extracurricular activities not available elsewhere including AP/IB classes, sports teams, STEM programs, and programming in the arts (band, art classes, theater, choral groups).
A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10 AM AEST/1AM UK to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Meta Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community.
About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: email@example.com
Success Strategies for Parenting Gifted Kids (book) | NAGC
Choosing the Right School for Your Gifted Child | The Davidson Academy
Finding Your Child’s Best Educational Fit (pdf) | NAGC
Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth | CTY Johns Hopkins
Twelve Cost Effective Educational Options for Serving Gifted Students | Davidson Gifted
Gifted Education and Support Options | Davidson Gifted
What is Blended Learning? | Western Governors University
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.