Home-schooling gifted children can be intimidating, confusing, and a huge challenge to parents. As their parent, however, you are the best teacher for your child. You know your child better than anyone else, you have what it takes to succeed, and you have been chosen for this job! I have two gifted children myself, who were home-schooled independently from the time my youngest was in third grade until both boys graduated from high school. They both went to college and both earned full tuition scholarships to their first choice university. I fully believe that indeptendent home-schooling was the best preparation for college they could possibly get.
If you’re saying to yourself, “if you met MY student, you might change your mind,” I want you to know that I understand—I really do understand—what it is like to home-school gifted children. Years ago, I was sitting outside a university classroom waiting for my son to finish his piano lessons. As I waited, I was acutely aware that people were noticing me, because there weren’t that many parents waiting outside classrooms for their children at this university. While waiting there, I was actually stressing out about the topic of giftedness and curriculum choices. Was I doing the right thing? How could I possibly know what to do and how to handle it? How was I going to cope?
At this point, a man about my age walked up to me and said, “Are you waiting for a student?” and I said, “Yes, my son is in there playing piano.” The man listened for a second and then said, “Oh my! He is a gifted piano player, isn’t he? How old is he?” I said, “He is 14,” and, because I was stressed out at the time, I added, “He is actually more gifted in something else.” He said, “Really? And what is he more gifted at?” I replied, “Well, actually my 14-year-old is more gifted in political science than he is in piano.” The gentleman scoffed and said, “How is that possible? He cannot possibly be more gifted in something like that. How do you document something like that? That is not an area of giftedness that kids can have.”
I had to think about this. How, in fact, did I know that my son was more gifted in political science, of all things? After thinking for quite a while, I replied to this gentleman, “My son is 14 years old, and is working as a college level intern at a public policy think tank. He is presenting graduate-level economics research at a national economics conference, and he has published an opinion piece in the Seattle newspaper on social security. That’s why I think he is more gifted in political science.” The man looked completely dumbfounded. “Oh, well,” he backpedaled, “maybe he is more gifted in political science.”
While it made me laugh, this whole interaction did not change a single thing for me. It didn’t change the giftedness of my child. It did not change how I home-schooled him. It didn’t change anything about how my son learned or how I taught. It didn’t even really provide much of a label that was something I would use in the future. The point is that it doesn’t matter what other people think. It doesn’t matter how your child is labeled. What matters is that you know your child and you know what is right for them. Every child is unique and the only person who can really know that child well is the parent.