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Online schooling resources for gifted children?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I am sort of new to this forum (I used to post back when my daughter was 3, she is now 8 years old, so it's been a long time.


Anyway, my husband and I are trying to decide what to do about school for the upcoming academic year. She is going into third grade and has been utterly bored at school since 1st (she was way ahead in K too, but excited about all the new stuff, friends, etc, so she didn't care as much). We had her tested recently and she was just accepted into the Davidson's institute.


I have been wanting to homeschool her for a long time, but there have always been obstacles (pregnancy, then new baby, me going back to graduate school, etc). I feel very strongly about wanting to pull her out of school now. I feel it is a waste of time for her and she could learn better at home.


I have been thinking about doing a couple of online courses like CTY and the Stanford EPGY for her homeschooling. We need resources that are mostly structured as both my husband and I work (I actually go to school, but have to take a graduate assitantship to get tuition, so will have to put about 30 hrs per week all together, half of which may be flexible), so unfortunately we don't have a lot of time for lessons planning and for instruction. My husband is a tenured professor, so his schedule is flexible and can do a good amount of work from home. Are there any other resources similar to these online courses that I could look into? someone mentioned Laurel Springs in a different thread (apparently a private online school), which does have a gifted institute, but unfortunately it starts in 6th grade, so it probably wouldn't work for us.


I was wondering if anyone has a similar situation and could point me to resources. Basically, my husband does not believe homeschooling would be possible because of lack of time, while I think that structured courses could significantly reduce the work load for us, while still allowing us to homeschool.  Thinking about sending my daughter back to school this September just makes me sad, I feel they will likely just default into not doing anything for her, like it has been so far, though I suppose Davidson may help us advocate for her (which does not necessarily mean the school would agree to make changes to meet my daughter's needs, but it might be a little more likely).


I think this is an oversimplification of the situation and the factors to consider (such as my daughter's temperament, the fact that I also have a 1 year old and that it can be easy for me to feel overwhelmed) for homeschooling,  but I thought I'd start the discussion and provide more details as needed as we go along.


Any experience with the Davidson's institute and the guidance they may provide would also be welcome.


Thank you!

post #2 of 5
Does your daughter want to homeschool? How does she feel about things? What are her interests and passions? Is she likely to crave structure? Or might she do okay with less structure? Is she pretty good at occupying herself?

When you homeschool, especially an eight year old, and a gifted one at that, it doesn't take six hours a day to cover academics. It maybe takes two hours at the very most. We have always homeschooled, and I consider myself an almost unschooler. At eight, my daughter did math using dreambox.com (an online math curriculum that is gamed based.) She read lots of books, and together we watched science and history documentaries. She also took some classes in the community with other homeschooled kids. She spent a lot of her time doing things that weren't officially school, such as playing imaginary games. Kids learn so much without being taught. If we are used to the school paradigm, it is easy to forget that, but kids really are learning all the time, and free time -- and plenty of it -- can really open the door to very deep, magical, self-directed learning for a kid that age.

To the extent that you do want to use classes, there are some great ones. CTY is wonderful, but very expensive, so choose wisely. Not all the classes are great. The "canned" ones can be disappointing. Also check out onlineG3.com for humanities classes, and Athena's Advanced Academy for humanities, history, and science. Make sure to take a look at Giftfed Homeschoolers Forum. They have a web page, a FB group, an e-mail list, and they also offer online classes.

We recently joined DYS as well. (By the way, my mostly unschooled daughter scored comfortably above the DYS cut when she took the Explore despite very limited formal instruction.) Since we homeschool, we are more interested in the community it provides rather than for advocacy.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your response Babayaga, this information is useful and encouraging. I wasn't aware of the online G3 or Athena's advanced academies classes and this type of courses is exactly what I was looking for! They are so much cheaper than the CTY and EPGY courses, so that is also a plus, as money is indeed a concern.


In response to your questions, when DD was in first grade, she started begging us to homeschool her. She went through a phase of refusing to go to school because she was so bored and this is when she started to request homeschooling. As a result of this, my husband did a "homeschooling trial" with her in the summer (I had just had a baby, so I wasn't really up for it!) but decided not to continue in the fall because there was some fighting involved in getting her to stick to schedule sometimes (though in all honesty, I think that was a little of an excuse on his part, and that he wasn't ready to make the leap, so he didn't push it). Toward the end of second grade, she started asking for either a grade skip or homeschooling again, so overall she is keen on the idea of not going back to school.


I am not sure whether she will crave structure, but I feel she will need it. Left to her own devices, she would spend the whole day reading, watching videos, and playing video games. She is passionate about reading, but mostly chooses fiction. She loves everything animals and enjoys learning about them. I was actually thinking it would be wonderful if she could regularly go to a local farm and help (I assume we would have to pay, they have a summer camp and maybe they'd be willing to take her once a week, especially since they have an 8 year old daughter who is homeschooled). Anyway, I digress. To be honest, one of the concerns is her temperament. She can be very bossy, stubborn, and rigid. She gets ideas in her head about things she wants to do, or how they should work, and can get very temperamental when things do not go her way. She is very emotionally intense and this can be very draining for us. This is why I think a structured schedule would work better if we homeschool. She tends to do better when she knows in advance what is supposed to happen (that is, before she gets an idea on her head about how she will be spending her time; she can get very upset if we keep her from reading, for example, even when she's has been reading for hours).


I should add that at school she is very quiet and compliant. She has been known to make mistakes on purpose, so the teacher wouldn't "be mad" at her, and to be anxious about doing homework that she finds pointless, just because she doesn't want to "get in trouble". But at home is a completely different story. She can be quite defiant. Nevertheless, I feel that with enough structure, clear goals, engaging activities,  and knowing that homeschooling would not work without her cooperation, she would cooperate.


The other reason for a need of structure is that like I said before, my husband has to work, and I will need to be gone or working at home for about 30 hrs per week (unfortunately), so if we could supervise and direct rather than instruct, I think it would seem more doable. For example, there will be times when both of us will need to be away from home, and while childcare would not be an issue (we have a babysitter for our one year old son for those times), it would be better if DD could have assignments she could do independently then, instead of spending all the time reading fiction.


At the moment, my husband seems to be leaning against homeschooling, but I feel he's partially basing his decisions on the idea that it would require a lot of time and effort, based on the approach he took when he did the homeschooling trial last summer (which was very involved, as he planned the lessons and instructed her). I should probably remind him that two to three hrs per day would be sufficient.


Sorry I wrote too much, but thank you again, your response was very helpful. How do I join the gifted homeschooling forum?


Thanks again!

Edited by iot - 8/3/13 at 9:06am
post #4 of 5
I think a lot of new homeschoolers make the mistaken assumption that there has to be a lot of direct instruction. I swear in my six years of homeschooling, I don't think I have ever taught my kids one single thing! I have used a combination of unschooling, and online resources. For example, my nine-year-old son is doing math through EPGY. We are using an open enrollment group because it is so much cheaper than CTY, which uses the same product, but costs a lot more money. I have all of my sons websites that he uses a bookmarked on his computer. I tell him to do it, and he signs on and begins. He often needs some help from me, so I need to be around for that. We also have sites bookmarked for chess study, which is a serious interest of his. He does spelling using a CD version of Sequential Spelling. (I suspect dyslexia.) My son is not a particularly self-motivated kid, and I definitely need to be around to oversee his work, but I don't directly instruct. I also work part-time from home. I'll put several documentaries on our Netflix streaming queue and let him know that he can watch one of those while I am working if the rest of his schoolwork is done.

With both of my kids, but especially my daughter, I think of how we operate as a little like college. When I went to college, I got a fat course catalog before each semester. It was up to me to decide what I studied, when I studied it, and with which professor. Once I committed to the class, I had in a sense contracted to attend and do the work. Both my kids get to pick what they study to a large extent. I show my daughter the different options for online courses, and with a little guidance from me, she gets to pick. For example. I presented her with the option to study epidemiology through Duke TIP. Once she looked over the course on the website, she decided it wasn't for her. Physics through Athena's. she liked, and I signed her up. She did grammar through G3 last year. This year, she didn't want to do more grammar, but she loved the lit classes there so much that she is taking two of those. And like that.

G3 has a great set-up where there is a checklist for assignments. At 10, my daughter could sign herself on, do the live class, and then completely self-manage the completion of assignments. They make it very easy for the kids. So I do think you can create a significant amount of structure using online classes. And I guess my point about the college analogy is that if a child has chosen the courses, then it is more "her"project, and there is less of that dynamic where it is the parent trying to impose something.

Hope this helps.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thank you for this new info (and sorry it took me so long to reply!). The way you describe you have been able to make things work with homeschooling your children is more or less how I would envision a plan for my daughter in terms of taking some structured courses that require supervision and some involvement/help, but not much direct instruction. In talking to my husband, however, it seems more and more like the biggest obstacle to homeschooling our daughter would be her lack of self-motivation. We are afraid that even if she might be excited/interested in the beginning, her interest would wane and we will be having to "force" her to do the work, which of course would defeat the purpose to a great extent (besides being quite draining for everyone). I wish I could say I would keep her motivated for sure, but she is an intense little one and can be very stubborn. So I don't know, we are still thinking and trying to figure out what to do. He suggests that we could try to negotiate with the school to let her have one or two days a week for school enrichment (partial attendance to school), but we are pretty sure it would be next to impossible to get them to agree to something like that. Maybe Davidson can have some advice in this respect. We are still waiting for all the paperwork to go through so that we can talk to someone there.


Anyway, this has been very helpful, knowing that it IS possible to make the online learning work. Would you mind directing me to the gifted homeschooling forum that you mentioned before (I assume it's and mdc one, but I don't know how to find it).


Thanks so much again!

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